Road America Memories Bobby Rahal practically grew up at Road America. His fondest childhood memories are of enjoyable summer weekends following his father, Mike, from their Chicago-area home to sports car races at the circuit. Now in...
Road America Memories
Bobby Rahal practically grew up at Road America. His fondest childhood memories are of enjoyable summer weekends following his father, Mike, from their Chicago-area home to sports car races at the circuit. Now in his final season as a driver, he returns to Road America for a final drive at the track that, perhaps more than any other, piqued his youthful desire to go racing. "I've been going to Road America since I was four," he recalled. "I started going up there with my dad when he was racing. We'd walk around the entire track watching the 500-mile race. It seemed like every college kid within 500 miles would show up in Elkhart Lake. It was like Woodstock. I saw the greatest drivers in the world there - Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Jim Hall, Peter Revson, Mark Donahue - every name you can think of. When I think of myself as a little boy watching racing, I think of Road America."
How Do You REALLY Feel?
Unless you've got some time to spare, don't get Bobby Rahal started about Road America. "If there's one word to describe Road America, it's fabulous," he'll say. "It's four miles of the greatest track in North America - certainly one of the greatest in the world. I don't know anybody who dislikes this place. It just gives a racing driver everything he wants in a race track: slow corners, fast bends, fast corners, long straightaways, you name it. What a great place to race."
On A Roll
Coming in to Road America this week, Team Rahal drivers Bobby Rahal and Bryan Herta have impressive streaks going. Through last week's race at Mid-Ohio, owner and driver Rahal has earned ten (10) consecutive points-paying finishes. Only twice in 16 Champ Car appearances at Road America has Rahal failed to score. Herta's streak is of the qualifying kind. With a single exception (Toronto), Herta has qualified in the first three rows at each road course race this season. In three career CART starts at Road America, the 5th row is as far back as Herta has qualified.
Team Rahal and driver Bryan Herta tested nearly 400 miles in a day and a half at Road America in late June. Despite a first-day accident and unpredictable weather conditions, Herta still managed to top the existing track record on Firestone's control tire. "The conditions were pretty extreme," Herta said. "It was awfully hot on the second day, which is good for a tire test and pretty comparable to what we'll see there this week, I think." Herta's top test time of 1:42.2 compares favorably with Mauricio Gugelmin's pole-sitting, record-setting run of 1:42.5 one year ago.
Bobby Rahal's had big weeks before, but this one will go down as one of the biggest. He signed more than 1,500 autographs during three separate fan signing sessions beginning Wednesday. After an emotional podium performance Sunday in the Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, five hundred family members, friends, associates and fellow competitors honored Rahal Monday evening at a charity tribute in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Hosted by ESPN SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne and featuring racers Al Unser Jr., Rusty Wallace and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, the event's live and silent auctions alone raised $40,000 for The Bobby Rahal Foundation. The following morning he flew to New York City to sit along side team partner David Letterman as a guest on Letterman's LATE SHOW.