Last Time Around Bobby Rahal attended the very first race ever at Mid-Ohio in 1963. His father, Mike, was racing that day. "I just remember continually washing the dust off my dad's race car," he recalled. He came back often during his...
Last Time Around
Bobby Rahal attended the very first race ever at Mid-Ohio in 1963. His father, Mike, was racing that day. "I just remember continually washing the dust off my dad's race car," he recalled. He came back often during his college days at nearby Denison University to watch Can-Am and Formula 5000 races. Thankfully, Rahal has enjoyed more glory days than dusty ones at the region's signature road circuit. "I won the Lumberman's race here; I've won IMSA races here; I've won SCCA races here; I've won Championship Car races here," he said. "I just have great memories of this track. Great history." His driving history at the track will draw to a close with this weekend's Miller Lite 200. It's likely to be an emotional one for the retiring Rahal. "I'm not sure I'll get misty," he said. "But I'm not making any guarantees."
Home Course Advantage
If there is such a thing in Championship Car racing, Mid-Ohio comes as close to the definition as possible of being Team Rahal's home course. Located just 60 miles northeast of the team's Hilliard, Ohio, headquarters, the 2.25-mile road circuit has hosted more visits and more laps by the team than any other. "One of the big advantages to living in Columbus now and having the team's shop here is being so close to Mid-Ohio," said Herta. "We're able to test at the track several times each season, and always seem to run very competitively. That kind of familiarity breeds confidence, and that's something we'll need plenty of come race day." Rahal agreed, adding that this race offers advantages beyond just intimate knowledge of the track. "Mid-Ohio is a great race for our team and for the people who support us. It's great to be able to have so many of our employees, family members and friends up from Columbus for the race. It's also great having our friends at Miller Brewing Company play such a key part in the event. Their support means a lot to us."
It won't surprise most of his fellow CART competitors if Bryan Herta is a hard mark this week at Mid-Ohio. In three career starts at the central Ohio road circuit, he has never qualified outside row two. He also owns the official and unofficial track records, and looked well on his way to an inaugural series win when a tire exploded on his race-leading Shell Reynard last season. Does that reputation bring added pressure? "Being the track record holder and defending pole sitter doesn't do anything more than put a target on our backs. It certainly doesn't mean we'll have an easy time of things this week. It means we have a pretty good feel for this track, and a pretty good set up. It will be up to us to keep whatever advantage we've developed and turn it into points."
Team Rahal and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course are teaming up this week to host the first-ever Mid-Ohio Fan Fest Wednesday afternoon at Team Rahal's Hilliard, Ohio, headquarters. Pace cars and race cars will be on display at the team's shop, while team Champ Car drivers Bobby Rahal, Bryan Herta and Indy Lights driver Mike Borkowski sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. Ticket and prize raffles will be part of the festivities, with proceeds going to The Bobby Rahal Foundation. The event is expected to attract more than 1,000 fans.
Friends, associates and fellow competitors will honor one of Championship Car racing's great sportsmen this Monday, August 10, at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio, when Miller Brewing Company presents Out In Front, A Tribute To Bobby Rahal. The charity roast, to be hosted by ESPN SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne and feature tributes from racing greats Al Unser Jr., Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Rusty Wallace among others, will benefit The Bobby Rahal Foundation. For ticket information, call Karin Line at 614/529-7000.