IRL: CHAMPCAR/CART: Rahal returns to Indy 500 with Vasser, Letterman, Miller Lite

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Nov. 16, 2001 - 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal will return to the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" this May for the first time since 1995, as the owner of a Miller Lite-sponsored car driven by Jimmy Vasser. Rahal ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Nov. 16, 2001 - 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal will return to the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" this May for the first time since 1995, as the owner of a Miller Lite-sponsored car driven by Jimmy Vasser.

Rahal finished third at Indy in 1995, his last start at the Speedway. He had seven top-10 finishes in 13 career starts at Indianapolis between 1982-95. He retired from driving in 1998 with 24 career Indy-style victories and three series championships. Vasser, a six-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, will drive the Team Rahal car owned by Rahal and late-night talk show icon Dave Letterman, a native of the Indianapolis area.

"The Indy 500 is an American tradition, and we are very proud to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again with Miller Brewing," Rahal said. "Miller also has been a tradition at the Speedway and bringing them back, as well as David, to this hallowed ground is very special. Having a tremendous driver like Jimmy behind the wheel for Team Rahal and Miller Lite means we will be among the top contenders for the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy."

1996 CART champion Vasser, 36, has recorded two fourth-place finishes at Indianapolis, in 1994 with Hayhoe Racing and in 2001 with Chip Ganassi Racing.

"I have raced in the Indianapolis 500, and there isn't another event like it in the world," Vasser said. "The chance to race at Indy and represent not only a great company like Miller Brewing but a great team like Team Rahal is an honor. I think Bobby and Dave have assembled all the elements to be successful next May."

Team Rahal was formed in 1996 when Letterman became a co-owner of the race team with Rahal. The team traces its origin to Rahal/Hogan Racing of which Rahal was co-owner and driver and which competed at the Speedway from 1992-95 with Miller Genuine Draft sponsorship.

"Miller Brewing is pleased to return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2002," said Mike Welsh, Miller Brewing Company's director of event marketing. "It's the most famous auto racing event in the world and having Team Rahal and Jimmy Vasser in the race gives our Miller Lite brand an outstanding opportunity to win this prestigious event."

Letterman, host of CBS-TV's "Late Show," grew up in the Indianapolis area and attended the 500-mile race as a youngster. The 2002 Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 26, marks the first time Letterman will be involved in the race as a car owner.

"To be part of a team racing at Indianapolis is the kind of thing I dreamed about as a kid," Letterman said. "I couldn't hope to be in better company than Team Rahal. This is what springtime in Indiana is all about."

-IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Chip Ganassi