January 10, 1953 |
Medina, Ohio, United States
|Achievements||1986, 1987, 1992 PPG Indy Car World Series Champion|
|Champ Car career|
|266 race(s) run over 18 year(s)|
Team Rahal (1996-1998)
|Best finish||1st - 1986, 1987, 1992|
|First race||1981 Indianapolis 500 (Indianapolis)|
|Last race||1998 Marlboro 500 (Fontana)|
|First win||1982 Budweiser Cleveland 500 (Cleveland)|
|Last win||1992 Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix (Nazareth)|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|First race||1978 United States Grand Prix|
|Last race||1978 Canadian Grand Prix|
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career|
|1 race(s) run over 1 year(s)|
|Best finish||91st - 1984|
|First race||1984 Winston Western 500 (Riverside)|
Robert "Bobby" Woodward Rahal (born January 10, 1953 in Medina, Ohio) is an American auto racing driver and team owner. As a driver, he won three championships and 24 races in the CART open-wheel series, including the 1986 Indianapolis 500. He also won the 2004 Indianapolis 500 as a team owner for the winning driver, Buddy Rice.
After retiring as a driver, Rahal held managerial positions with the Jaguar Formula 1 team and also was an interim president of the CART series. Rahal was also a sports car driver during the 1980s, and made one NASCAR start for the Wood Brothers.
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 the 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 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. Later that year, Rahal won his first CART championship, and successfully defended it the following year.
By 1989, Rahal had ended his occasional forays into sports car racing and focused solely on CART. He moved over to the Kraco race team, but this association produced only two wins over three seasons.
Rahal competed in one NASCAR race in his career. In November 1984 he drove the 7-11 sponsored Wood Brothers #21 Ford (substituting for Buddy Baker) to a 40th place finish in the Winston Western 500 at Riverside International Speedway, completing only 44 laps before breaking a rear end gear.
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 (including AAA, USAC, and CART) to start 200 races in his career. Despite no wins, Rahal finished a strong 3rd in the 1995 standings using the Mercedes engine.
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 Team Rahal in 1996 and Rahal Letterman Racing in 2004, when Rahal switched from CART to the IRL full-time.
Other business roles
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 the interim President and CEO of CART for six months during the 2000 season.
His business interests include a network of car dealerships in western and central Pennsylvania.
Rahal was also involved in the development and testing of the Honda NSX. NSX chief engineer Shigeru Uehara and his team were present at the test track to fine-tune the car's handling according to Rahal's feedback.
- Rahal was inducted into both the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2004. He was inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame on March 2, 2013.
At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the back straight leading up to the corkscrew was named for Rahal.
Rahal currently lives in New Albany, Ohio. Rahal is a graduate of Denison University. He is the son of sports car racer Mike Rahal and the father of Graham Rahal, who raced for the Lebanon A1 Grand Prix team during the 2005-2006 season because of the Rahal family's Lebanese ancestry. Graham now races in the IndyCar Series. Bobby owns a 1975 Lola T360 which he occasionally races at vintage racing events.
Motorsports career results
|Formula One results|
|1978||Walter Wolf Racing||Wolf WR5||Cosworth V8||ARG
|Wolf WR1||Cosworth V8||CAN
American Open Wheel Racing
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)
PPG Indycar Series
Indy 500 results
|1993||Rahal||Chevrolet||Failed to Qualify||Rahal/Hogan|
(key) (Bold - Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics - Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)
Winston Cup Series
|NASCAR Winston Cup Series results|
|1984||Wood Brothers Racing||21||Ford||DAY||RCH||CAR||ATL||BRI||NWS||DAR||MAR||TAL||NSV||DOV||CLT||RSD||POC||MCH||DAY||NSV||POC||TAL||MCH||BRI||DAR||RCH||DOV||MAR||CLT||NWS||CAR||ATL||RSD
- "1984 Winston Western 500". racing-reference.info. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- Lewandowski, Dave (January 8, 2013). "Notes: Rahal among five elected to SCCA Hall". IndyCar. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- Cavin, Curt (August 20, 2012). "Family Playground: Mid-Ohio is home for the Rahals". Autoweek 62 (17): 60–61.
- Rahal Letterman Racing website
- Rahal's automobile dealerships website
- The Greatest 33
- Bobby Rahal driver statistics at Racing Reference
|CART IndyCar Series
|CART IndyCar Series
Rookie of the Year