AP: Al Unser Jr. ‘Loving’ the ZAP Alias Electric Car in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE
Little Al loving a green-car competition
By John Marshall, AP Sports WriterAl Unser Jr. has lived a pedal-to-the-floor life, toddling around the pits as his famous father raced around the track, winning his sport’s biggest prize twice himself, becoming a teacher to the next generation of open-wheel stars.
So when he was asked to gear back during the Automotive X-Prize, a competition that’s supposed to be more innovation than acceleration, well, you know what happened.
“I just wanted to see what it could do,” Unser said.
Curiosity is what got Unser behind the wheel in the first place, pairing a man used to high-decibel, low-miles-per-gallon speed machines with a Star-Wars-pod-looking prototype electric car not much louder than a dishwasher.
Turned out to be a perfect match.
It started two years ago, when a friend told Unser about the Zap Alias, a prototype electric car that could hit freeway speeds and had a range of 100 miles.
The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was intrigued by a drawing of the car and contacted Zap, forming a relationship between one of the fastest drivers in the world and a company at the forefront of alternative-fuel transportation.
So when Zap needed someone to drive the Alias in the Automotive X-Prize, a $10 million competition to develop super fuel-efficient cars, Unser didn’t hesitate.
“I told them I’d love to be a part of it,” he said.
There is a certain irony to Unser’s pairing with an alternative-fuel vehicle.