Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bobby Rahal - Tribute Page

January 10, 1953
Bobby Rahal
(Photo: purduenila via photopin cc)
Born in Medina, Ohio, USA.
He is the son of sports car racer Mike Rahal and the father of IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal and father-in-law to drag racer Courtney Force.

Rahal began his career in SCCA feeder categories, eventually finishing second to Gilles Villeneuve in the 1977 Formula Atlantic championship. The following year, he competed in European Formula Three with Wolf Racing. Near the end of the season, Rahal raced for the Wolf Formula 1 team in the 1978 United States Grand Prix and the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix.

The deal with Wolf did not continue into the 1979 season, as Wolf signed up James Hunt for the one and only car available. Rahal began 1979 racing a Chevron in Formula Two, but returned to America mid-season and raced in the Can-Am series. During the next few seasons, he competed in various sports car events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the IMSA GT Championship.

In 1982, Rahal entered the CART series with the Truesports team, winning two races and finishing second in the championship behind Rick Mears. He continued racing for Truesports through the 1988 season, winning at least one race every year.

In November 1984Rahal competed in the one and only NASCAR race in his career. He substituted for Buddy Baker, in the 7-11 sponsored Wood Brothers #21 Ford, in the Winston Western 500 at Riverside International Speedway, completing only 44 laps before breaking a rear end gear.

In 1986, Rahal dramatically passed Kevin Cogan on a restart with two laps to go to win the Indianapolis 500, only days before his team owner, Jim Trueman died of cancer.
(Photo credit: omninate via photopin cc)
Bobby Rahal's March/Cosworth - 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning car.

Later that year, Rahal won his first CART championship, and successfully defended it the following year. In 1988, Rahal won the last race the Truesports team ever won, the Quaker State 500 at Pocono, the only victory for the Judd engine ever.

By 1989, Rahal moved over to the Kraco race team, but this association produced only two wins over three seasons.
(Photo credit: omninate via photopin cc)
Rahal's 1989 Indy Car

After losing the championship to Michael Andretti in 1991, Rahal (with partner Carl Hogan) acquired the assets to the former Pat Patrick Racing team, with Rahal becoming an owner-driver. The team was an immediate success in 1992, producing four wins for Rahal and his third CART championship, making him the last owner-driver to win the CART title, and the last driver to win a race in his own car until Adrian Fernandez did so in 2003. 

In 1993, Rahal attempted to develop his own Rahal-Hogan chassis, but reverted to the Lola chassis after failing to qualify for the 1993 Indianapolis 500. In 1994 the team brought the Honda engine into the CART series. Except for a second place finish at Toronto, he and teammate Mike Groff struggled to show the full potential of an engine that would soon dominate the series. 

In 1995 at Long Beach Rahal became the 10th driver in Championship Car history to start 200 races in his career. Despite no wins, Rahal finished a strong 3rd in the 1995 standings using the Mercedes engine.

Bobby Rahal's "Last Ride" - #7 Reynard Ford-
(Photo credit: omninate via photopin cc)
Rahal continued as a racing driver until his retirement in 1998. Meanwhile, Hogan left to form his own team and talk show host David Letterman became a minority owner in 1996. The team became known as Rahal Letterman Racing in 2004, when Rahal switched from CART to the IRL full-time.

In 2000, Rahal joined the Jaguar Formula One team in a managerial capacity. During this time, Rahal attempted to hire championship-winning aerodynamicist Adrian Newey, briefly believing that the deal had been completed. However, Rahal was fired after reportedly attempting to sell driver Eddie Irvine to rivals Jordan. Ironically, the team fired Irvine little more than a year after firing Rahal. Rahal was also the interim President and CEO of CART for six months during the 2000 season.

Rahal currently lives in New Albany, Ohio. His business interests include a network of car dealerships in western and central Pennsylvania.

Rahal was inducted into both the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2004, the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2010, and the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2013.

Bobby owns a 1975 Lola T360 which he occasionally races at vintage racing events.
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