CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Thoughts on Bobby Rahal

Bobby Rahal retires following the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota after a 17 year FedEx Championship Series career. Here are impressions and best wishes from co-drivers, co-owners, former competitors and teammates. Congratulations on a...

Bobby Rahal retires following the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota after a 17 year FedEx Championship Series career. Here are impressions and best wishes from co-drivers, co-owners, former competitors and teammates.

Congratulations on a great career, we look forward to its continuation as a car owner.

MARIO ANDRETTI: "Bobby was the type of competitor I really had to deal with race in and race out throughout my career. He was an incredible driver and his record speaks for itself. If I had to win a race, Bobby was always a guy I had to deal with at the end. He was always tough to beat."

AL UNSER JR. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes): "Bobby has been my best friend in racing with CART over the years. Actually, our wives became close first and Bobby and I became very good friends from there. We were teammates in the early 1990s and competed wheel-to-wheel many times. We have so much in common - he's a college graduate, I barely got out of high school; he goes to country clubs and plays golf; I go to hunting lodges; he owns several car dealerships and businesses, I make my snowmobile go faster; he has four children, I have four children. There's something that matches. He's going to be missed on the race track for his driver etiquette and as a competitor. But we wish him the best as a team owner."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford): "Bobby and I have had some great races together and I'm going to miss him. We had some good times racing each other and I can say in all the years we've never had any problems on the track. I'll race Bobby into any corner and know I'll come out of it okay. I think that says a lot for the type of driver Bobby is."

ANDREW CRAIG (CART President and CEO): "Bobby is a business leader with our company and our series. He has brought leadership, insight and great style to our company. He has brought statesman-like qualities to our board of directors and our series overall. Bobby was very busy this year with his retirement season from driving and running his racing team. But he stepped forward to participate in our board to take CART public this year. He been a true champion both on and off the track and we, at CART, salute him for a legendary career that will continue as a car owner."

ROGER PENSKE, owner, Marlboro Team Penske: "I'd like to congratulate Bobby on a outstanding career as a driver. Since I've known Bobby for many years, he's always been a first class guy. And he has taken his racing and started to use it as a common thread into his other businesses. He's been a great driver and a great supporter of CART. And one that we've needed in CART as we built the organization over the years."

BRYAN HERTA (Shell Reynard Ford): "Bobby has been much more than a teammate to me. He helped me in the early part of my career and gave me advice at the beginning of my CART career. I've learned more from Bobby off the track as a person and a professional. He is all class. He was one of my heroes as a kid and I never thought I'd have the opportunity to work with him. I've had a great time driving for Bobby and I look forward to the future with Team Rahal."

MAX PAPIS (MCI Reynard Toyota): "Bobby is one of our sport's greatest drivers and ambassadors and it is a special honor to take over the driving chores of his famed racing car. Opportunities like this one with Miller Lite and Team Rahal come along only once in a lifetime."

CARL HAAS, co-owner, Newman/Haas Racing: "He has been a good friend for a long time. He has been a stalwart of CART. A great addition to our open-wheel sport. A strong driver and a strong personality of sport. He's done it all and he is a great person. I wish him well as a car owner."

STEVE HORNE, owner, Tasman Motorsports Group: "He has certainly had a tremendous career, one of the best in modern day Champ Car racing. Our combination of working with Bobby has helped propel me to the level of our team today. I remember going to our first race with Truesports at Phoenix (1982) and we were completely lost. But we were able to stick together and win Cleveland four races later. We were successful in working together for two consecutive championships. But the thing that sticks in my mind is Bobby's craft to race. The guy had a sixth sense of how to win."

DAN GURNEY, owner, All American Racers: "Bobby Rahal, the driver, is letting go of the steering wheel, which he has used to win many races and three [FedEx Championship Series] championships as part of his long and very successful career in the cockpit. I'm thrilled to see him retire from racing in such good shape. He sets an example that many young drivers will try to emulate in the future."

BARRY GREEN, owner, Team KOOL Green: "Bobby's been a great friend of mine for many years, both on the race track and on the golf course. I had the pleasure of working with him in 1989 at Kraco Racing and in 1990 at Galles-Kraco, where he contributed a lot to our winning the championship with Al [Unser] Jr. I've fought out many championships with him, especially when I was running Michael Andretti. We've had many great battles, and he's been a lot of fun to race against. I've got to take my hat off to the guy; I mean, he is always a factor on the race track. He's got great race smarts; Bobby can start anywhere on the grid and be a threat [to win]. He'll just soldier on, and very rarely does he ever make a mistake. Bobby is a tremendous ambassador for the [FedEx Championship] Series, and someone I think I try to model myself after in many ways."

RICK MEARS: "Now that Bobby is finally retired he can look forward to all the "perks" that go along with retirement - [being] grand marshal at races, membership in the CART Champions club, filling in for drivers when they can't make their sponsor appearances and [being] team referee. The only downside now is that he'll have less time to work on his golf game."

BOBBY UNSER: "He had a hair back in those days (1980s) and he had glasses too. He was a real good race driver. Always one to beat on any type of track."

DANNY SULLIVAN: "We came through the ranks together from F-3, Formula Atlantic, F-2, Can-Am and champ cars. Bobby and I had some great wheel-to-wheel battles and I can't believe he's hanging up his helmet. He's been one of the best on and off the track. We had a lot of fun racing each other and wish him the best as a car owner. I'm sure he'll be successful there too."

MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes): "Bobby's just an all-around class act. To me, 'Uncle Bobby' is the only guy who went through two generations of competitive drivers, and he's still going strong. He was just as tough against Mario [Andretti] and A.J. [Foyt] as he is against Michael [Andretti] and Al [Unser] Jr. We'll all miss him as a driver, but it will be good to see him around as a team owner. He's a very competitive and a very fair guy. He's definitely someone you can race wheel-to-wheel with all day, because he knows what he's doing."

MARK BLUNDELL (Motorola PacWest Mercedes): "I'm very sad to see Bobby leave the race track. On the other hand, I'm very glad we'll still be seeing him on pit lane in a different role. Bobby's a great ambassador for the CART series and motor racing in general. He's had a fantastic driving career, and I hope he enjoys his new career as much as he did his old one."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Reynard Honda): "First of all, Bob is a real gentleman. In any dealings that I've had with him on the business side of things, he's been completely honest. And on the track, he's a very competitive guy, as he proved in Toronto in '97, when he had our coming together in the first corner. He's a fantastic competitor, the series is going to miss him and I'll miss racing against him, because he's one of the guys that's there all day long."

PAUL TRACY (KOOL Reynard Honda): "Competing against Bobby Rahal has been an honor for me. He's a fantastic racer, a guy that even at this stage of his career is one of the hardest competitors on the track, and one of the toughest guys on race day, regardless of his starting position. It was good to see his team win at Laguna Seca [with driver Bryan Herta]. You could see the joy on his face and how proud he was of his team, and I was happy for him."

ROBBY GORDON (MCI/ Panasonic Duskin Reynard Toyota): "I think back over the last few years and the one guy that I really never had an altercation with is Rahal. Consistently fast and smooth, Rahal is the perfect example of a first-class act and one of the most effective owner/drivers ever. At one time, I was hoping he would hire me, only time will tell if that was good for me or not. Bobby here's looking at you - from my rearview mirror."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Kmart Swift Ford): "It's a great loss for the sport, no doubt. I think Bobby's was one of the biggest names in motor racing in the last 20 years. Especially here in the United States. It's sad to see someone like Bobby retiring, but at the same time, I'm happy for him because I think he had a great career. He accomplished a lot. I think he can pass on the experience of everything he accomplished to new drivers that are coming up, and he can dedicate himself to his team. He's definitely a very strong figure in the sport. As far as driving is concerned, it's definitely going to be a very big loss. One of his races that I remember most was in Rio [de Janeiro] last year. I actually wasn't racing in the event [due to a broken right leg sustained several events earlier in Australia] but I watched it. He was leading the race, but he ran out of fuel one lap from the end. That was really sad for him."

TONY KANAAN (LCI Reynard Honda): "When I started racing in go-karts, I was already watching him race in Champ Cars. He was always my reference, for sure. I wish him the best of luck in his retirement. I didn't have much of a chance to race against him, only this season. I have a lot of respect for him. I'm glad he is still going to be around as a team owner, and I am still going to try to beat him."

ALEX BARRON (Castrol-Degree Reynard Toyota): "When you hear the name Bobby Rahal, a lot of history and success comes to mind. Now that I've had the opportunity to race with him, I know why he's earned the nickname, 'Mr. Consistency.' He's a definite leader and will be truly missed by his fellow competitors and all Champ Car fans."

DON "SNAKE" PRUDHOMME (Rahal's Miller Lite Teammate): "I known Bobby for some time now and he has been one of the coolest guys I've met in the racing world. We've made several Miller television and radio commercials together and he has always come across to me as class. Whether is on the track or behind the scenes the guy is one of the classiest drivers I've ever met. He asked me about retirement and how not driving effected me. I told him he would enjoy being an owner. I think he'll do a great job in that role."

RUSTY WALLACE (Rahal's Miller Lite Teammate): "Bobby and I have worked together for Miller for awhile now and we've had some great times together. Whether it was 'Don't Drink and Drive' commercials in Phoenix or commercials with Larry Bird, we've always been able to laugh and have a good time. Over in NASCAR, you hear that the CART guys are kind of snobbish but Rahal was never that way. And the more I got to know Bobby the better I liked him. He's just a first-class guy."

MRN

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta
Teams Team Penske