Graham Rahal has used driving skill rather than marketing or branding to become one of the stars of the IRL series. Now in his third season of driving the 02 car for Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing, Rahal has become more comfortable with the team and the series. While doing so, the 20 year old Ohio native has set three rather impressive records in open wheel racing.
In April of 2007, then 18 year old, Rahal finished second at Houston to become the youngest Champ Car driver to earn a podium finish ever. In his first IRL start, on April, 6, 2008, at the age of 19, Rahal became the youngest winner of a major open wheel series race when he took the trophy at St Petersburg. This April, Rahal became the youngest IRL pole winner ever when he qualified first at St Petersburg as a 20 year old.
Rahal is chilling in Canada this week, preparing for this weekend’s IRL race in the Great White North. He took the time to answer a few questions for SRM.
What has to be your biggest moment in racing, so far?
“Winning at St. Pete in 2008, to become the youngest winner ever!”
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
“My father, without a doubt.”
The father is, of course, 1986 Indy 500 winner, Bobby Rahal.
What do you consider your highlights so far this season?
“It would have to be being on the podium at Richmond and a strong series of qualifying efforts all year.”
Any special projects?
“Yes, my charity, The Graham Rahal Foundation.”
Now, we have a little something new for the drivers and fans to have a little fun with. Until I can come up with a better name it’s being called the ‘Eight to Debate’. These same eight questions will be posed to different drivers in this forum.
Graham Rahal’s ‘Eight to Debate’.
Foyt or Andretti?
“Mario Andretti specifically. He is a great man and has accomplished amazing things.”
Petty or Earnhardt?
“Earnhardt, you have to respect what he accomplished.”
Indianapolis or Daytona?
“Indianapolis without a doubt, doesn’t compare.”
Monaco or LeMans?
“LeMans. The history and cars are incredible, as is Monaco, but LeMans is a wonderful event.”
Dirt or Asphalt?
Oval or Road Course?
Goodyear of Firestone?
“Firestone. Doesn’t compare.”
‘Days of Thunder’, or ‘Talladega Nights’?
“Talladega Nights, because, sadly, I haven’t seen Days of Thunder.”
We won’t hold that against you, Graham. Thanks for being the first in this series on young driving stars, and good luck in the future.