CART Online (November 20) -- Three-time PPG CART World Series champion Bobby Rahal will close his driving career at the conclusion of the 1998 season, the two-time Driver of the Year and Indianapolis 500 winner announced today at his team's ...
CART Online (November 20) -- Three-time PPG CART World Series champion Bobby Rahal will close his driving career at the conclusion of the 1998 season, the two-time Driver of the Year and Indianapolis 500 winner announced today at his team's Hilliard, Ohio headquarters.
"I promised myself that I would retire from driving when I thought I could be of greater value to my team as an owner than as a driver," Rahal said. "I believe that time has come."
Rahal, who has served as both owner and driver for Team Rahal since its inception, will focus full time on the owner role and his expanding business interests after the 1998 season's completion.
"The demands for my attention from all our business enterprises have grown through the years," Rahal said. "I take that as a sign of their success. And though they will require more of my time in the future, I still have the kind of desire it takes to drive, to compete and to win. I intend to go out on top."
Rahal will field Reynard Ford Cosworth Indy cars on Firestone tires for himself and teammate Bryan Herta in next year's 19-race PPG Cup campaign. He enters the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship as a team owner for the first time in 1998 and recently announced Gloy-Rahal Racing, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team in which he owns an interest. Rahal also serves on the CART Board of Directors. Among his non-racing-related enterprises are namesake Honda, Toyota, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz dealerships.
"Bobby is finishing an heroic career with dignity and grace," said Team Rahal co-owner David Letterman. "The sport is lucky to have him. I'm lucky to have him as a friend and partner."
"Every race fan in America will miss seeing Bobby on the track," said CART President and CEO Andrew Craig. "He is one of the sport's all-time greats and a truly world-class competitor."
Miller, Rahal's sponsor since 1992, will use its famous Lite brand to commemorate Rahal's final racing season - RAHAL'S LAST RIDE - throughout the 1998 CART season with special celebrations at each venue on the 19-race tour. The company will be a contributor to a newly established Bobby Rahal Foundation, a not-for-profit endowment created to generate and distribute charitable funds raised during "Rahal's Last Ride" tour. The foundation will identify worthwhile organizations within the race markets making up the 1998 CART season.
As a driver, the 44-year-old Rahal ranks second all-time in career CART earnings, and 11th in career wins (24) and career poles (18). He is the leader among active drivers in starts (246), ranking him seventh all-time. He joins retired driver Rick Mears as CART's only three-time PPG Cup champions (1986, '87 and '92).