Bobby Rahal

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Bobby Rahal
Bobby Rahal at the Barber Legends of Motorsport 2010.jpg
Rahal in 2010
NationalityUnited States American
BornRobert Woodward Rahal
(1953-01-10) January 10, 1953 (age 65)
Medina, Ohio, U.S.
Championship titles
1986, 1987, 1992 PPG Indy Car World Series Champion
1986 Indianapolis 500 Winner
Champ Car career
266 races run over 18 years
Years active1982-1998
Team(s)Truesports (1982-1988)
Kraco (1989)
Galles-Kraco (1990-1991)
Rahal-Hogan (1992-1995)
Team Rahal (1996-1998)
Best finish1st - 1986, 1987, 1992
First race1982 Indianapolis 500
Last race1998 Marlboro 500 (Fontana)
First win1982 Budweiser Cleveland 500 (Cleveland)
Last win1992 Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix (Nazareth)
Wins Podiums Poles
24 88 17
Formula One World Championship career
Active years1978
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1978 United States Grand Prix
Last entry1978 Canadian Grand Prix
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
1 race run over 1 year
Best finish91st - 1984
First race1984 Winston Western 500 (Riverside)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0

Robert Woodward "Bobby" Rahal (born January 10, 1953) is an American former 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.

Racing career[edit]

And it was frigid. A very cold day, and the race long – long for me. The longest I'd done before that was a 100-mile Formula Atlantic race, and this was a 200-mile grand prix. I just wanted to get to the end and get to the next race. It was a workman-like debut.

Rahal, speaking about his Formula One debut at Watkins Glen[1]

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.[1] 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.

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 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.[2]

IndyCar owner[edit]

Rahal driving for Team Rahal at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1996

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.[3] 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[edit]

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, but was unsuccessful. However, Rahal was fired after reportedly attempting to sell driver Eddie Irvine to rivals Jordan.[4] Ironically, the team fired Irvine little more than a year after firing Rahal, while Newey joined in 2006, a year after the team was sold to Red Bull.

Rahal was the interim President and CEO of CART for six months during the 2000 season.

His business interests include Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, a network of car dealerships in western and central Pennsylvania selling Acura, BMW, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Volvo.



At WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the back straight leading up to the corkscrew was named the "Rahal Straight" in his honor.

Personal life[edit]

Rahal formerly lived in New Albany, Ohio. Rahal is a graduate of Denison University. He now lives in Lincoln Park, near the lakefront of Chicago. He is the son of sports car racer Mike Rahal[7] and the father of Graham Rahal, who now races in the IndyCar Series.

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

Bobby also grew up in the Chicago suburbs and attended Glenbard West High School as class of 1971.

Motorsports career results[edit]

SCCA National Championship Runoffs[edit]

Year Track Car Engine Class Finish Start Status
1974 Road Atlanta Lola T290 Ford B Sports Racing 3 3 Running
1975 Road Atlanta March 75B Ford Formula B 1 2 Running
1977 Road Atlanta March 75B Ford Formula B 18 1 Retired

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position / Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Complete European Formula Two Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

American Open Wheel Racing[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

PPG Indy Car Series[edit]

Indianapolis 500 results[edit]

Rahal during the 1986 Indy 500
Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team
1982 March Cosworth 17th 11th Truesports
1983 March Cosworth 6th 20th Truesports
1984 March Cosworth 18th 7th Truesports
1985 March Cosworth 3rd 27th Truesports
1986 March Cosworth 4th 1st Truesports
1987 Lola Cosworth 2nd 26th Truesports
1988 Lola Judd 19th 5th Truesports
1989 Lola Cosworth 7th 26th Kraco
1990 Lola Chevrolet 4th 2nd Galles/Kraco
1991 Lola Chevrolet 4th 19th Galles/Kraco
1992 Lola Chevrolet 10th 6th Rahal/Hogan
1993 Rahal Chevrolet Failed to Qualify Rahal/Hogan
1994 Penske Ilmor 28th 3rd Rahal/Hogan
1995 Lola Ilmor-Mercedes 21st 3rd 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[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pruett, Marshall (11 December 2015). "Reflections: 1978 Formula 1 at Watkins Glen". Archived from the original on 13 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  2. ^ "1984 Winston Western 500". Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Lauda Criticises Rahal over Irvine Offer to Jordan". Atlas F1. 2001-08-28. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  5. ^ Lewandowski, Dave (January 8, 2013). "Notes: Rahal among five elected to SCCA Hall". IndyCar. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  6. ^ "Bobby Rahal to receive Simeone Spirit of Competition Award/". Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  7. ^ Cavin, Curt (August 20, 2012). "Family Playground: Mid-Ohio is home for the Rahals". Autoweek. 62 (17): 60–61.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Al Unser
CART Indy Car Series

1986, 1987
Succeeded by
Danny Sullivan
Preceded by
Michael Andretti
CART Indy Car Series

Succeeded by
Nigel Mansell
Preceded by
Danny Sullivan
Indianapolis 500

Succeeded by
Al Unser
Preceded by
Bob Lazier
Rookie of the Year

Succeeded by
Teo Fabi