CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca Preview - Goodbye "Bobby Ray"

LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY, Monterey, California (September 4) - When he drove a handful of NASCAR stock car races in the early 1980s, Bobby Rahal was, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, "Bobby Ray Hall." Folks down that way know their race drivers. The ...

LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY, Monterey, California (September 4) - When he drove a handful of NASCAR stock car races in the early 1980s, Bobby Rahal was, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, "Bobby Ray Hall." Folks down that way know their race drivers. The moniker was a good-natured way of letting the then bespectacled Yankee from Ohio know he was family.

A lot has changed in 15 or so years. Rahal's trademark glasses are gone after recent laser surgery. He and his wife Debi now have the children they dreamt of when he was starting his professional career. Lessons learned away from racing have been put to good use and he is today a successful businessman who includes among his holdings a number of automobile dealerships, in addition to Team Rahal co-owned with "Late Show" host David Letterman. But, what truly stands out, is that the promise of youth has been realized.

Bobby Rahal started out racing sports cars on road courses like Laguna Seca, where he will drive his final road race next Sunday, September 13, at the wheel of his Miller Lite Champ Car. Over the years since he won his first championship in 1974, driving a Lola sports car, Rahal has competed in virtually every major auto racing series in the world, including the Formula 1 World Championship. His victories include 24 CART races, the 1986 Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1981 and the 1987 Sebring 12 Hours. Three times he has been CART Champion (1986, '87 and '92), twice he has been CART "Driver of the Year" (1986 and '92) and he is certainly the most successful team owner/driver in motorsports.

What Rahal has done better than any other driver is win at Laguna Seca. Nobody else has won four Grand Prix of Monterey feature races. In 1984, '85, '86 and '87, he beat the track - one of the most demanding in the world - and every CART driver to win here in the Fall. As he approaches retirement from driving races at the end of the season, he just seems to be getting faster and closer to winning. Wouldn't it be great if all the racing fans who will be here for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey next weekend to say good-bye to him get to say it after a fifth victory?

GRAND PRIX NOTES

Popular bands "Red Beans & Rice" and the "Broadway Band" will perform on Saturday and Sunday in the Expo at the Raceway.

Advance sale tickets for all three days of the event can be purchased until 5:00pm (PDT) on Thursday, September 10, by calling (800) 327-SECA or (831) 648-5100. The prices for these tickets are less than if they are purchased at event gates. Super Tickets for both the event and the Paddock represent an up to 30% discount off comparable gate tickets, and can only be purchased in advance.

New MST Race Bus pick-up/drop-off points will be at Del Monte Center; Carmel Rancho; 6th & Mission, Carmel; and Carpenter & Valley, Carmel. These are in addition to points in Monterey: Monterey Conference Center, Monterey Transit Center, and the MPC parking area; in Seaside: Embassy Suites, Fremont & Canyon Del Rey and Casa Verde & Fremont; and in Salinas: Salinas Transit Center and South Nissen & Main.

Christian Fittipaldi is scheduled to make a personal appearance on Thursday, September 10th, at the K-Mart store on Canyon Del Rey in Seaside between 5:30 and 6:30pm.

"Race Nite on the Row" next Saturday, from 5:00pm to 9:00pm on Cannery Row, will feature "Jukebox Heroes" performing at the Steinbeck Plaza, other entertainment and race displays. It'll be the hottest place in town!

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi