GRAHAM RAHAL TO DRIVE FOR MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING ATLANTIC TEAM IN 2006 INDIANAPOLIS (December 7, 2005) -- One of the brightest young American road racing stars is joining the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and Mi-Jack...
GRAHAM RAHAL TO DRIVE FOR MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING ATLANTIC TEAM IN 2006
INDIANAPOLIS (December 7, 2005) -- One of the brightest young American road racing stars is joining the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and Mi-Jack Conquest Racing with today's announcement that 16-year-old Graham Rahal will compete for the team in the 2006 Atlantic campaign.
The son of former Champ Car champion and distinguished Atlantic series graduate Bobby Rahal will drive an entry sponsored by Norwalk Furniture, Sparco, Robert Bosch, the CAR Group and Renier Corporation next season for the recently-formed Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic team.
The move into the Atlantic Championship continues a rapid rise for Graham Rahal in the open-wheel development ranks. After entering the world of racing through karting, Graham first showed his burgeoning talent by winning a national Stars of Karting competition in 2003. The following year he joined the inaugural Formula BMW USA series and finished third in the circuit's rookie standings. In 2005, Graham raced in the Star Mazda Pro Series, posting six podium results on his way to a fourth-place finish in the championship. He also became the youngest winner in the history of the series when he captured the checkered flag at Portland International Raceway in late July.
Continuing his impressive accomplishments this fall, Graham, a junior in high school, became the youngest driver ever to win the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. He established several Formula Atlantic records at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course while dominating the competition that his father won three decades earlier.
"I am excited about taking the next step up the ladder and racing in Atlantics with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing next season," said Graham Rahal, a native of New Albany, Ohio. "I think we should be very competitive and I hope to rack up some wins and get the championship. (Team owner) Eric (Bachelart) is a great guy, and my dad and I were impressed when we visited the Conquest shop. It's going to be a very competitive championship, but this will be a good situation for me and I am really looking forward to getting in the new car and going racing."
A stellar Atlantic series competitor from 1975-78, Bobby Rahal is happy that his son is continuing his racing development in a series that helped serve as a springboard for his legendary career that featured three Champ Car titles and an Indy 500 victory. Rahal is also excited to bring along respected engineer Don Halliday and Graham's driver coach Mike Zimicki to the Mi-Jack Conquest team next season.
"I have always liked Eric (Bachelart) as a person, and I am impressed with how he goes about his racing," said Bobby Rahal. "He's there to win, and I think it's going to be a very good environment for Graham, with everyone focused on racing and winning. We are fortunate to have Don Halliday and Mike Zimicki in the equation working with Eric, and I think Graham is going to have a good chance to be successful. Graham has always been a bit precocious as far as moving up quickly, but all credit goes to him because he's the guy standing on the gas and he has matured quickly, so hopefully this will be another strong season for him."
After the new generation of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, featuring a new Swift chassis design powered a 2.3-liter, 300-horspower Cosworth engine, was announced this summer, Bachelart and Mi-Jack Conquest Racing were one of the first teams to step up and announce that they were joining the new-look series. A former racer who claimed the 1991 Indy Lights championship, Bachelart and his team just completed their third season competing in the Champ Car World Series, enjoying strong results from Nelson Philippe and 2004 Atlantic Rookie of the Year Andrew Ranger.
"We are excited about having Graham join the team," said Bachelart. "He is clearly quite talented, and he is very focused on success at the race track so we feel as though we are going to be in a competitive position right from the start next season. We are happy to have this agreement in place and are working to finalize details with our second Atlantic car."
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. 2005 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. In 2006, competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion's bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.