Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, three-time IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, has joined the list of featured speakers during the 4th Annual Race Industry Week, Monday through Friday, Nov 27 – Dec 1.
Rahal was born in Medina, Ohio, in 1953, and worked his way up through the racing ranks starting with the SCCA’s feeder series to Formula Atlantic and then onto European Formula 2. In an 18-year career spanning F1, Can-Am, Le Mans/IMSA, and CART, Rahal notched three CART championships, including a win at the 1986 Indy 500, along with wins at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races.
One of open-wheel racing’s most consistent drivers during his career, Rahal started 264 races for five teams and he took 18 poles and scored 24 wins. He collected back-to-back CART championships in 1986 & ’87, and picked up his third in 1992. When Buddy Rice won the 2004 Indy 500, Rahal became only one of a handful of individuals to win the Indy 500 as both a driver and a team owner.
Following his retirement from competitive racing after the 1998 season, Rahal spent time with Jaguar’s F1 effort and in mid-2000, he returned to the U.S. to become the interim boss of CART. Along with former late night talk show icon David Letterman and businessman Michael Lanigan, he is a principal in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing where Rahal has overseen the growth of the team from a one-car program to a multi-car, multi-discipline organization.
Rahal has been responsible for finding and developing some of the top-young talent in open-wheel racing. Among his current and past proteges are Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Christian Lundgaard, Takuma Sato, Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick, Bryan Herta, Max Papis, Kenny Brack, Jimmy Vasser and Michel Jourdain Jr. It also was Bobby Rahal who was responsible for bringing Honda into North American open-wheel racing in the early 90s, an involvement as a manufacturer that has produced 18 drivers’ championships and over 268 victories including 15 Indy 500 triumphs (2004-2022).
Along with his leadership of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Rahal is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, a string of car dealerships in Pennsylvania, is president of the Road Racing Drivers Club, is on the Board of Directors for the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, and is very active in the community through the Bobby Rahal Foundation. In addition, he was Chairman of the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Foundation from August 2012 until the fall of 2016 and was Chairman of the International Motor Racing Research Center Governing Council at Watkins Glen from 2014-18.