USA: Graham Rahal to race at USGP

Rahal's son to race in Formula BMW USA during United State Grand Prix INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 4, 2004 -- The son of one of the most successful drivers in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history will compete on the IMS road circuit during the ...

Rahal's son to race in Formula BMW USA during United State Grand Prix

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 4, 2004 -- The son of one of the most successful drivers in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history will compete on the IMS road circuit during the Formula BMW USA Championship races that are among the support series at the United States Grand Prix on June 18-20.

Graham Rahal, 15-year-old son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, will race at Indianapolis in the new open-wheel development series. Graham Rahal will drive on the 2.605-mile road circuit at Indy just three weeks after the team that his father co-owns, Rahal-Letterman Racing, won the 88th Indianapolis 500 with driver Buddy Rice on the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Rahal, a high-school sophomore from New Albany, Ohio, is in his first season of car racing after an outstanding career in karts. He finished third in the Stars of Karting national championship race last year against mostly older drivers from the United States and Europe.

"I know that many people believe that things were given to me because of my dad," Rahal said. "But I have had to maintain good grades in school and work at improving my abilities. Being the son of a racing star isn't easy, but I feel that I have the commitment and mindset to be successful in the sport.

"Of course, having my dad help me is not bad, either."

Formula BMW USA Championship races are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (EST) Saturday, June 19 and 2:15 p.m. Sunday, June 20 at Indianapolis. Both races are 30 minutes. Practice is scheduled for 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 18.

This is the first season of Formula BMW USA competition. Talented drivers from North, Central and South America race in the championship to begin the next step in their racing careers, which could lead to a spot in the Formula One World Championship and racing in the United States Grand Prix.

The championship, which has 14 rounds at seven North American venues, opened with two rounds May 29-31 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, with Andreas Wirth of Miami winning both races. Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, a winner in the Red Bull Driver Search program, won the pole for both races and finished second in the second race, just .502 of a second behind Wirth.

Formula BMW USA also will support the Canadian Grand Prix on June 11-13 at Montreal before coming to Indianapolis the next weekend.

All competitors race in state-of-the-art Formula BMW FB2 cars. A 140-horsepower, four-cylinder BMW engine powers the Formula BMW FB2 and propels the 1,003-pound car to speeds approaching 140 mph. A sequential six-speed gearbox feeds the power to Michelin racing slick tires.

Adjustable front and rear wings and suspension allow the FB2 a large setup range, and an F1-style steering wheel houses a comprehensive electronic display.

The Formula BMW FB2 sets new standards for safety. In addition to a carbon-fiber chassis meeting the FIA safety requirements of more powerful Formula 3 cars, the driver sits in a BMW-developed Formula BMW Rescue Seat. In the event that it would become necessary to extricate the driver from the car, the seat and driver can be removed from the car as one unit, lessening the chances for additional injury.

The seat and head surround have been designed to allow ample room for the wearing of a HANS Device, which is mandatory in the Formula BMW USA Championship.

Already established in Germany and Asia and recently announced in the United Kingdom, Formula BMW has become a very successful proving ground for the aspiring open-wheel driver.

The Formula BMW USA Championship offers a scholarship and prize packages totaling more than $500,000. Six talented young drivers, including Rahal, were awarded $240,000 in scholarships, $40,000 per driver. Additionally, total available prize monies top $260,000 for the championship.

Drivers also participate in an educational training program. BMW provides young drivers with training throughout the season, such as seminars to review fitness training and nutrition, vehicle dynamics and chassis setup, driving technique, public relations, media training, sponsorship research and sports management.

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Graham Rahal , Buddy Rice , Andreas Wirth , Matt Jaskol