CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Fontana Preview

Last Ride Three-time CART FedEx Championship Series Champion Bobby Rahal's driving career will draw to a close with Sunday's Marlboro 500. Asked by a reporter this week if he fully realized that his record-breaking 17-year CART career was ...

Last Ride

Three-time CART FedEx Championship Series Champion Bobby Rahal's driving career will draw to a close with Sunday's Marlboro 500. Asked by a reporter this week if he fully realized that his record-breaking 17-year CART career was actually ending, Rahal said, "Ask me Monday!" "Saturday may be the first bad night's sleep I get the night before a race," he said. "I'm pretty sure it will be a nervous night. I don't think the real feeling will hit me until next year, though. When our drivers are scheduled to have their seats made and I don't have a fitting, it will be pretty real to me that I'm not a driver anymore. I think that will bring it to closure for me."

Playing The Percentages

In the 264 races that have made up Bobby Rahal's Champ Car career, he has amassed a truly stellar record. A quick glance at his career numbers (24 race wins, 18 pole positions) bears that out, but perhaps the more remarkable and telling statistics are the percentages. The 45-year-old Rahal has scored 88 podium finishes since his 1982 debut. That means he's finished on the rostrum in 33 percent of the races he's started. He's finished in the top five 119 times (45 percent of his starts) and in the top ten 177 times (67 percent of the time).

Sign Of The Times

A couple hundred generous and fortunate race fans will have the unique opportunity to sponsor Bobby Rahal's car for his last-ever race. For a minimum $25 donation to The Bobby Rahal Foundation, fans attending the Marlboro 500 will be able to add their signature to one of two special four-square-foot decals that will be mounted atop the sidepods of Rahal's car for his final drive. The program is an ironic one for Rahal, who has taken part in Saturday afternoon autograph sessions at each CART event during the 19-race Rahal's Last Ride campaign. "I thought it was time I turned the tables," he said. Fans interested in sponsoring Rahal's Last Ride may sign up at the Team Rahal merchandise trailer behind the California Speedway's main grandstand on Saturday.

Bobby Rahal, Esquire

Team Rahal owner/driver Bobby Rahal is a feature subject in the November issue of Esquire magazine.

Handford For Herta

Team Rahal driver Bryan Herta was impressed with his first race experience with the much-discussed Handford device, the high-drag rear wing CART introduced for July's U.S. 500 and will use once again at Fontana. "I think we proved with the U.S. 500 that we can put on a pretty competitive and entertaining show with (the Handford device)," he said. Herta, who was one of the initial series drivers to test the device, was surprised by the marked difference he saw between the test and the race. "The car in front of you punches a huge hole in the air, and that big draft sucks you in like a cult. It provided for a lot more passing than I initially anticipated."

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

Team Rahal's rookie Indy Lights team had its best showing of the season in the series' last superspeedway race in July at Michigan Speedway. Unfortunately, it also had its worst, most frightening moment there as well. Qualifying on the front row and running a solid second to eventual winner Tony Renna with three laps to go, driver Mike Borkowski's Textron Automotive Lola and that of competitor Airton Dare came together on the high-speed back straight. The contact sent Borkowski's car into a surreal half somersault which fortunately ended with driver and car right side up, though a little worse for the wear. The team will attempt to replicate its performance at the cookie-cutter California Speedway this weekend, "Except for that last part," Borkowski said with a grin.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Airton Daré , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta , Tony Renna , Mike Borkowski