Hometown Hero Mid-Ohio (August 5, 1998) - For Bobby Rahal, Sunday's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is two occasions - a homecoming and farewell party. Rahal, born in Medina, Ohio, has spent most of his 18 years in the FedEx...
Mid-Ohio (August 5, 1998) - For Bobby Rahal, Sunday's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is two occasions - a homecoming and farewell party. Rahal, born in Medina, Ohio, has spent most of his 18 years in the FedEx Championship Series driving for teams based in nearby Columbus. He is currently the owner of Team Rahal, which is based there.
On the other hand, this 45-year old, three-time series champion with 24 wins and 18 poles in CART, is hanging up his helmet at the end of the season, although he will continue to run the team along with his co-owner of late-night television fame, David Letterman. Rahal's sponsor, Miller Brewing, has dubbed his final season, "Rahal's Last Ride." His last ride at Mid-Ohio will be Sunday's Miller Lite 200, which begins at 2 p.m. ET. The race-day telecast will be shown on ABC-TV, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
"When I go to Mid-Ohio the crowd reaction is unbelievable and, -- so I guess -- if nothing else because of that you've got to say that's my home track," Rahal said. It's more than the mere proximity to the twisting 2.25-mile road course from his race shop. There's a great deal of history for him. "I don't think there's any question in the sense that it's played such a huge part in my life," Rahal said. "I've won a lot of races there. I should have won three in a row in CART."
It takes more than just a fast car to get success here. "Mid-Ohio is a very difficult race track because it is always challenging you and it's always making you maximize every square inch," Rahal said. "At a lot of tracks maybe you don't have to do that to be up front, but at Mid Ohio - because it's so tight in so many ways - you have to just work hard. I think physically Mid-Ohio is the toughest track we race on. Because the speeds are greater, it's like a slalom course. What a slalom course is to skiing is what Mid-Ohio is to racing."
He emphasizes just how an important the driver is at this circuit. "Mid-Ohio is today - even given the fact that equipment today is so critical - it's still a race track where a very, very, good driver with a less-than-great car can have an influence," Rahal said. "Where most circuits if the car is off, I don't care who you are, you're not going to be able to make it look good. I've always considered it a driver's circuit."
Which is ideal for somebody with Rahal's talents. In 15 career starts, he has recorded a pair of victories (1985, '86), five other podiums (3rd in '83, '91 and '97, 2nd in '84 and '87), two pole positions ('83, '85) and led at least one lap in every event from '83-88. "I think if you ask anybody, they'd say the same, Mid Ohio is just one of those circuits that tests you every second," Rahal said.
Source: CART Online