Catching Up with Graham Rahal
For Graham Rahal, driver of the Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing No. 38 in the IZOD IndyCar Series, a trip to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is like playing in his backyard. After all, it’s less than a one-hour drive from his Dublin, Ohio home.
His father, Bobby Rahal, retired as a race driver in 1998 and drove the Team Rahal Miller Lite car to third place finishes at Mid Ohio in his final two races. Rahal was honored before his last race at Mid-Ohio in 1998 and took a lap with his family in an open-air convertible before the race.
Riding with him that day was the next generation of the Rahal family that would compete in IndyCar – his young son Graham.
“I would always take him testing there,” Bobby said of Graham. “His friends would come with him and they would go off and walk around. They did the same things I did 40 years earlier. It was our home track in a lot of ways. I love watching him, period but I love watching him there. At Mid-Ohio he has a lot of fans. It’s like the next generation.”
Ten years later, Graham Rahal would return to Mid-Ohio in the cockpit of an IZOD IndyCar Series Dallara/Honda for Newman/Haas Racing.
“Everybody assumes because it is my home track that I’ve raced there a lot but I’ve probably only raced there five times ever in my life. It was nice to go back and race there knowing that as a kid I used to terrorize that place and here I am driving it. We did everything there. When everybody would disappear at night we would take the ATVs and the Golf Carts and race them around. Those types of races are the best because everybody is camping out and having a good time. It’s in the middle of nowhere so there is not much trouble you can get in. I’ve been there all my life.”
While the Rahals have strong reason to consider Mid-Ohio as their “home track” they are happy to share their home with another one of the IZOD IndyCar Series biggest and most important names.
“It’s home for Honda and it’s great the support they have given that event over the years,” Graham said. “It’s great the turnout we get from employees from Honda. For a lot of reasons it’s a very important event on the schedule. It’s time to reverse our luck and I think we can do it. We can run with the guys up front and we have proven that.
“Now, it’s time to make it happen.”
This is a big weekend for IZOD, Honda, the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Rahals. So, let’s spend a few moments “Catching up with Graham Rahal.”
INSIDE IZOD – What do you like about IZOD fashion?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “It’s very Americana which to me is pretty cool. That’s how fashion wise I am. All the IZOD shoots I’ve been on there is nothing ever too flashy. They have some wild ideas and wild outfits they put together but it’s an American brand.”
INSIDE IZOD – What is the most fun aspect of being involved with IZOD?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “I think it’s what they have done for our sport. Promotionally they have taken us to a different level. I hope it continues and I hope they are proud to be a part of it and I hope they are getting something out of it. It’s always cool to go out and see what they do. I hope in the future we are part of more commercial shoots for them.”
INSIDE IZOD – You are a big car guy and for a while you were getting cars every few months. Has that settled down?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “I would say I’ve limited it right now. It’s a fun thing to do but it’s such an easy thing to do a lot of damage with. It would be pretty easy to say for me cars have always been a big passion of mine but it’s also an easy way to lose a lot of money. You have to be very cautious with cars. I would say that over time I’ve probably owned 35 cars. The thing is I say that and even at this time I have six or seven cars but people forget a lot of the cars I have are more inexpensive collector cars to me. My old Fiat 500 I’ve got and my new Fiat 500 I’ve got is because I had an old one and they are matching. My new one is a limited edition. They made 500 of them and mine is No. 89 which is the year I was born. It’s not how expensive they are; it’s more the meaning that I have.”
INSIDE IZOD – What are the cars you have now?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “My Acura MDX which is a nice perk of driving for Honda. I’ve got my old 1964 Mini-Cooper S, a 1969 Fiat 500, a 2012 Fiat 500. I’ve got a CLK Black Series. They only made 300 of them in the world. Mine is white and there are only about 20 or 30 white ones in the world.
INSIDE IZOD – At 22 how hard is it to insure all of these things?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “Luckily my driving record is clean. So while I’m under 25 they don’t hurt me too bad. Certainly you want to always be well protected and have your cars well protected. We have that handled. For me I try not to look at the cost of things. You try not to pay attention to that but the cars that I have I enjoy them and that is how you have to look at it. It’s so easy with cars to lose a lot of money if you look at the money side of it. But it’s all about enjoying it and where my career is this is where I spend a lot of my money on. I don’t have a family yet and when that happens all these things will change. Even with my dad and he has inspired me to do a lot of what I do with cars he has a great collection of old cars and a great collection of old race cars including some of the very first race cars he has ever driven. That is where my interest really got sparked.”
INSIDE IZOD – Do you have any motorcycles?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “No, I used to do the motorcycle thing but I’ve cut out of that over the last couple of years. The cost of ownership and for a nice bike it’s expensive and the amount you get to enjoy it in the Midwest is so slim and insurance is so high I can’t justify it. A car you can still have fun with it in the snow but a car is not the same.”
INSIDE IZOD – You are a born-and-raised Ohio boy. Do you feel you have never really left your hometown?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “Columbus is home for me and it always will be. I love being here. Like anybody’s hometown it’s a special place whether you live there any more or not when you go back you feel comfortable. To be able to race here — not too far from here – is a pretty good feeling. Mid-Ohio hasn’t been the best track for me in my career but I think we can turn that around this weekend.”
INSIDE IZOD – How many Graham Rahal fans or friends come up to Mid-Ohio?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “More friends and family than probably anywhere else. It’s always a good showing of people here and makes it a lot of fun for me. I’ve given away 30 some tickets for this weekend and I’ve got buddies that didn’t even ask for tickets and they are going. It’s cool when you are walking around the track and see a lot of people who are very supportive of the Rahal family. That makes it fun for us.
INSIDE IZOD – You are a big Ohio State football fan. What are your first memories of that?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “My youngest memories are going to the games with my dad. We used to sit in the press box and I loved that – going with my dad. I remember way back in the mid- to late-1990s we got to sit in the press box and do an interview with Jack Arute and that was a lot of fun. Fast forward now we still know Jack really well and certainly miss him being part of the IndyCar Series. Ohio State has always been a big part of my life and anybody in Central Ohio you have to be a fan because you are around it for so often.”
INSIDE IZOD – I know you haven’t given up hope they will have a good team this year.
GRAHAM RAHAL – “I don’t think they will be hit that bad. The NCAA has been in town and from what I’ve been told they found absolutely nothing. I feel good about where they stand. They will win 10 games this year and if they can do that – they have a few really tough games at Nebraska and at Miami and some really tough games. But if they can win 10 games that would be a hell of a year.”
INSIDE IZOD – When you are away from the track what are some of the things you like to do?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “For me golf is a big part of my life. I love playing. And cars. Girlfriends. Those things take up most of my time.”
INSIDE IZOD – What do you shoot as a golfer?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “Yesterday I shot one under par which was like I couldn’t believe it. But I shoot around 74.”
INSIDE IZOD – So if you weren’t a race driver you might be trying out for the PGA Tour?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “I might be trying out just for fun but I’m not a pro golfer. I know that.”
INSIDE IZOD – What are a few things fans don’t know about Graham Rahal that would really surprise them?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “There is this perception that he is a Rahal so he has to be high maintenance but the truth is probably the opposite. I’m very simple minded. People read about my cars but that is it for me. I’m happy to sit at home on my couch enjoying myself than anything else. I’m a simple person.”
INSIDE IZOD – Do you have any pets?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “I have three dogs. Two are Labrador Pit Bull mixes and one is a purebred Golden Retriever. There are like life to me. They are like my kids and they are so much fun. One is named Dove after Dove Chocolate because I love chocolate and one is Dogbeogee and the other one is Dude – that’s my Golden Retriever. I named him Dude because I was calling him that so much when he was a puppy and that fits him perfectly.”
INSIDE IZOD – Favorite food?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “Sushi. There are lots of good Sushi places here.”
INSIDE IZOD – What is your musical preference?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “I’m open to anything. I’ll listen to Top 20 stuff and some Country. I listen to anything that’s on the radio.
INSIDE IZOD – What is the last thing you loaded on your iPod?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “Deliverance by Bubba Sparks because I was watching the movie “Without a Paddle” and that is a great song.”
INSIDE IZOD – What is the best prank you have ever pulled?
GRAHAM RAHAL – “One time I pulled an April Fool’s Joke on my whole family that I was getting married to a girl I had only known for a week. That was completely false. It’s hard to get my family worked up. They all know me so well that it is hard to get anybody with a good prank but that one really got them going.” Inside IZOD