The Buffalo Motorsports Examiner spoke with second-generation IndyCar star Graham Rahal of Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing last week – find out where he came from here, what he’s doing here, and today, what his future holds.
The IZOD IndyCar Series recently announced the addition of a second May race at the mecca of auto racing, Indianapolis Motor Speedway – this one on the road course. The combination of oval and road and street courses on the series schedule is one of the things Graham Rahal likes about the series.
“(Switching from ovals to road courses) is undoubtedly a big challenge,” said Rahal. “But I think that’s what makes our series special. I just think that overall that’s what makes our series stand out from everything else in the world to a certain extent. It’s probably harder on the teams, though, than the drivers – they have to swap the cars out.”
The 2013 schedule had 19 races, including three double-header weekends – a concept Rahal likes for the fans.
“I think it’s a good concept, it works well,” said Rahal. “I think it’s fun, and I think IndyCar is a sport in which it’s extremely fan-friendly, and the best part is it’s good for the fans, period. The fans get to see more racing on a weekend – when they spend that money they get to see twice the amount of racing, and that’s really what you want. It keeps them coming back, and that’s what you want to do.”
Rahal would like to see a more balanced schedule in the future – something without so many gaps in the action – and wouldn’t mind seeing a few more races.
“I’d like to see more – I like racing, and it’s good for our sport to be out in the public eye more, and more often,” said Rahal. “This last lull in the action – to fans, they almost think that your season is over because you go quiet for several weeks. So I’d like to keep that a little more active, frankly, but it has served us well, being at 18 or 20 (races).”
“If we gain a few races that doesn’t scare me,” continued Rahal. “I think it would be smart for the series to be over by now. I think it would be good to just have all the racing finished – even NASCAR, to get TV ratings at this time of year is difficult with the NFL, so it would kind of be good for our sport to get it over with before now. We need to make our schedule a little more consistent and make it easier for everybody to follow.”
A fan-friendly driver in a fan-friendly sport, Rahal has modeled his Graham Rahal Foundation after Paul Newman’s Newman’s Own Foundation. The Foundation works with Alex’s Lemonade Stand and the Serious Fun Network (formerly Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps) and raises funds through a number of events.
“We did our helmet design contest,” said Rahal – the helmet will be worn at the IndyCar finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on October 19th. “It gives fans a chance to design my helmet for the season finale. It’s an enjoyable thing for everyone to take part in, it’s a challenge for them and ultimately it helps support the kids we support. Hopefully we can sell it off, make some good money and help some lives. This is our third (helmet design contest), but we also do other stuff that we auction off, we have a golf tournament that’s probably our biggest fundraiser of the year.”
Rahal enjoys the fan interaction, and it’s a big reason he plans to stay in IndyCar for a long time to come.
“I love IndyCar racing,” stated Rahal. “A lot of people have asked me if I have interest in doing other things, maybe going to NASCAR. Truth is, I love it right where I’m at – I’d like to be one of the influential guys who helps this sport grow, so that’s my focus.”
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