Rahal team pulls out of IndyCar? UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Rahal-Letterman Racing has removed all references to IndyCar or Ryan Hunter-Reay from the front page of their official website.
01/29/09 This statement for Rahal Letterman Racing is in response to a published newswire story that stated that the longtime race team had pulled out of the Indy Racing League for 2009. If used in print, it should be attributed to Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing.
“As I said in the quote from the story, as of this time we do not have any sponsorship that will allow us to compete in the IRL in 2009, but by no means does that mean that we are giving up. We are continuing to search for sponsorship to run the 2009 season and to run in the Indianapolis 500 and we feel that there is still time for us to put something together that will allow that to happen.”
In addition to its IndyCar efforts, Rahal Letterman Racing remains committed to its programs in the Firestone Indy Lights Series as a partner with Andersen Racing, its American Le Mans Series program with BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team as well as its new partnership with Formula BMW Americas. RLR PR01/29/09 Rahal Letterman Racing has pulled out of the 2009 IndyCar Series because it cannot find a sponsor to support its program.
RLR becomes the latest racing team to be affected by the reeling economy. The team won the Indianapolis 500 with Buddy Rice in 2004 and brought Danica Patrick to the IndyCar Series.
"At this time Rahal Letterman will not be in the IRL in 2009," team co-owner Bobby Rahal told The Associated Press in an e-mail today.
The team, which ran one car for American driver Ryan Hunter-Reay last season and won the race last July at Watkins Glen, will continue to seek sponsorship. RLR will concentrate on its sports car alliance with BMW in the American Le Mans Series.
RLR is co-owned by talk-show host and Indiana native David Letterman. AP Article/IBJ.com01/29/09 Bobby Rahal said today he is “reasonably sure” his race team will participate in this year’s Indianapolis 500, but it is doubtful it will be involved in the entire IndyCar Series season due to a lack of sponsorship. ["At this time Rahal Letterman will not be in the IRL in 2009," team co-owner Bobby Rahal told The Associated Press in an e-mail Thursday.]
Rahal Letterman Racing, which is based in Hilliard, Ohio, had Ethanol at its sponsor last year and won the July race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International with Ryan Hunter-Reay driving, but that funding will not be available from the promoters of the corn industry.
Rahal said his deadline hasn't arrived for such a decision, in part because the team could have its cars prepared to race within two weeks, but time is running out. The season begins April 5.
“Let’s face it, the economy is such that people are being awfully careful with their money,” said Rahal, who is the first team owner to say his participation is in doubt for the upcoming IndyCar season. “The environment is not good, and we’re being affected by it.”
As a driver or team owner, Rahal been involved in the sport every year since 1982. He won the 500 as a driver in 1986 and as an owner in 2004 with Buddy Rice.
“Twenty-six years; long time,” Rahal said. “But to be honest, unless pennies from heaven fall in our lap, I don’t see, at this stage, getting the appropriate level of funding to put forth a good, competitive effort for the season.
“Indy is a whole different (financial) animal, but we don’t want to just be there. We want to be competitive.”
RLR is co-owned by talk-show host David Letterman. IndyStar