CHAMP CAR STAR GRAHAM RAHAL TO DRIVE BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM CAR
HILLIARD, Ohio (December 14, 2007) Open-wheel racing star-in-the-making Graham Rahal may reside in New Albany, Ohio, but he is fast becoming a fan of Las Vegas, as the Nevada city will again serve as a launching pad for his skyrocketing career.
The 18-year-old Ohioan will fulfill a lifelong dream and again follow in his legendary father's footsteps as Graham is to drive a Formula 1 car for the first time from January 7-10 at the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park in Las Vegas. The younger Rahal, son of three-time Indy Car/CART champion Bobby Rahal, will drive the BMW Sauber F1 Team car in a series of exhibition runs in Las Vegas in support of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
"It's a great thrill for me to be driving a Formula One car, even though it's not on a proper racing circuit," said Rahal, who turns 19 on January 4. "It has been a dream of mine to drive an F1 car and I can't thank BMW enough for giving me this opportunity."
The chance to reach a career goal in Las Vegas is nothing new to Rahal, as he made his Champ Car World Series debut in Las Vegas this past April, piloting the #2 Medi | Zone Champ Car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR). The New Albany native qualified 10th but was taken out in a first-lap accident. He would go on to score four podium finishes in his rookie Champ Car season and finished fifth in the championship, becoming the youngest driver in Champ Car history to finish in the top five of the season standings.
Rahal is no stranger to BMW, having burst onto the open-wheel scene in 2004 by racing in the Formula BMW USA series, where he finished seventh in the championship. He went on to Star Mazda competition in 2005, then moved to the Toyota Atlantic Series in 2006 where he led the series in wins, poles and laps led en route to a second-place standing in the championship. From there he moved into Champ Cars with NHLR, where he teamed with four-time series champion Sebastien Bourdais.
"I could not be more proud of Graham and what he has accomplished, and I think he is just scratching the surface of what he could do in this sport," his father Bobby said. "I waited a long time for my first shot in an F1 Car (1978 at the age of 25) and I am excited about the opportunity that BMW is presenting to Graham."