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DATE News (chronologically)
09/21/07
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Rahal Challenges Chicagoans  The Champ Car World Series and rookie driver Graham Rahal of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing today will visit Chicago-area students and ask visitors at the Grand Opening of the 200th Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes store in the Calumet Park area, south of Chicago, Illinois, to take the Champ Car Hands on the Wheel safe driving pledge.

The day begins with young Rahal returning to High School, albeit for only an hour, to meet with students at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School this morning. The visit is designed to raise awareness on safe driving, talk about the dangers of texting while driving, and secure students’ pledge to practice safe driving techniques. Rahal will challenge the Advanced Automotive Class students of Frank Valentino to secure additional pledges from friends and family, and plans to treat the class to lunch if they reach their goal.

“Unsafe driving is an on-going problem that requires attention,” says Rahal, who currently sits fifth in the Champ Car World Series championship points race. “I have signed the pledge, and all other drivers in the Champ Car World Series and Champ Car Atlantic Championship did so as well. It takes great concentration and precision to handle a 750-horsepower Champ Car, but it takes that same level of focus to handle your every day car so we can keep our streets and highways as safe as possible. I hope that everyone follows our lead and takes the pledge to not be a distracted driver.”

States are beginning to ban drivers from texting while driving. Last week, California became the second state to do so after Maine, and other states also are looking at similar legislation. Two recent studies estimate that a third of young drivers text message from behind the wheel. On Monday, Champ Car Executive Vice President David Higdon will discuss the cause campaign at the annual convention of the National Organizations of Youth Safety (NOYS) in Alexandria, Virginia.

Following the morning high school visit, Rahal, the youngest podium finisher in Champ Car history and son of three-time Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal, will appear at the Grand Opening of the 200th Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes store at 1 p.m. Besides participating in the festivities, Rahal and executives from Sherwin-Williams will ask attendees and all Chicagoland residents to ‘Take the Pledge’, either in person at the Sherwin-Williams store or online at www.HandsontheWheel.org.

Rahal will be joined in the ribbon cutting ceremony in the presence of Chris Connors, The Sherwin-Williams Company Chairman and CEO, and Tom Habitzel, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes President.

Next for Graham Rahal and his fellow competitors in the Champ Car World Series will be a testing session in Sebring, Florida at the start of next week. The next race will take place in Surfers Paradise, Australia on October 21. The race will be shown in the U.S. on ESPN2.

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