Rahal eager to return to Mid-Ohio
Graham Rahal has fond memories of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course from his many visits as a child.
That was a decade ago, when the circuit his father competed on was Graham’s summer playground. It still is, but this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance takes on a different tone for the 19-year-old Rahal. The driver of the No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing returns in the big leagues.
“Mid-Ohio was always a place as a kid we went to and we would take our friends along and go play,” said Rahal, who grew up 60 miles away in New Albany, Ohio. “You could certainly get in plenty of trouble especially. Dad would stay in the motorhome (in the infield) so at night we’d always take the golf carts out and the security guys would get all mad. Memories of that place and Cleveland always stand out to me the most.”
Bobby Rahal made 16 starts (1983-98) at Mid-Ohio during the CART days. He posted eight top-three finishes, including victories in 1985 and ’86. He drove for his own team beginning in 1992.
“It’s going to be nice for me because I’ll have my friends and family there, which is something that rarely happens,” Rahal said of the extensive guest list. “And being that it is so close to home feels quite good.”
In September 2005, Graham claimed the SCCA National Formula Atlantic championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group Swift 014 at Mid-Ohio – 30 years after his father won the Formula Atlantic title.
“It will feel good to go back there for that reason as well,” he said. “Knowing that dad had won the same championship 30 years before then, that was definitely a cool feeling.”
Rahal, who became the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history in April on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., advanced 10 positions to finish eighth on the last road course (Watkins Glen International on July 6). He’s looking forward to competing for the first time in the IndyCar Series on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio layout.
“I think we have a shot to win at the end of it all,” he said. “Aside from them paving it, overall it’s pretty close to what it was (in 2005) and that’s pretty cool. I really enjoy the track; it’s a physical track. It can be quick and it can be at times a pretty daring track. I look forward to getting there and going through all the steps to see what we can do.”