Three Rahal generations celebrate at Road America next weekend when Snap-On Champ Car "Stars Of Tomorrow" Karting series competes. Graham and Kyle Rahal Continue Family's 46-Year Elkhart Lake Tradition on June 20-22 ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June...
Three Rahal generations celebrate at Road America next weekend when Snap-On Champ Car "Stars Of Tomorrow" Karting series competes.
Graham and Kyle Rahal Continue Family's 46-Year Elkhart Lake Tradition on June 20-22
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 13, 2003) -- When third generation racers Graham and Kyle Rahal hit the 15-turn, eight-tenths of a mile Briggs & Stratton MOTORPLEX karting track at Road America next weekend (June 20-22), the teenagers' participation in the Snap-on Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow" presented by RACER will mark a 46- year tradition.
Little did Mike Rahal know back in 1957 that he would start a family ritual that included his own racing, his sons' competition and now his grandsons' upcoming karting participation at the legendary racing facility.
"There had been races in the streets at Elkhart Lake for several years in the 1950s," said the 74-year-old Rahal, who'll be on hand next weekend to watch his grandsons in action. "Then I took my (racing) driver's school at Road America and was able to race over 20 years at that great place. I don't know of a better road racing track in North America. I raced the Road America 500 race ten times and the June Sprints some 20 years. Our family had some great experiences there. But I crashed and broke my leg there too. But I saw (sons) Bobby and Ian race there and now seeing Graham and Kyle will be very exciting. I guess I started a tradition dating back to 1957."
Graham, Bobby's 14-year-old son, and Kyle, the 16-year-old son of Bobby's younger brother Ian, have continued the Rahal racing tradition at Road America with a national campaign on the "Stars of Tomorrow" karting tour, the initial step in the Champ Car Ladder racing system.
"I was five years old when I remember going to Road America with my parents and watching my dad race," said Bobby Rahal, the three-time Champ Car champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner. "Of course, I raced many years at Elkhart Lake and so did my brother Ian. Then I remember taking Graham to Road America when he was five and Ian brought Kyle about the same time too. Our family has had many great times at the track. I saw some of the world's greatest drivers race at Elkhart Lake. It is a legendary place."
Of course, Rahal became one of those greatest drivers ever to race at Road America.
Now his son Graham, who'll compete in the ICC (125cc shifter) and ICA (100cc direct drive) divisions at Road America), and his nephew Kyle, who won the 80cc Junior class in the season opener at BeaveRun, Pa., will compete in the second event of the Eastern Division of the 2003 Stars national tour.
More than 150 karting racers will participate as part of the annual June Sprints, one of the largest SCCA races in the nation. The road races will take place on the four-mile road circuit. The MOTORPLEX is located near the renowned "Carousel" section of the road course and is considered one of the nation's top karting tracks.
"I'm excited to go back to Road America," said Graham Rahal, a rookie on the Stars of Tomorrow tour. "I used to run around the paddock area when my dad raced Champ Cars. I didn't really know what was going on that much but the track was s fun experience. When I was older, I followed my dad's races there and my Grandpa told me stories about his racing at Road America too. Now my cousin and I get to race there. I know we are anxious to drive the big track too someday."
The Rahals won't have an easy march to the podium at Road America as one of the strongest karting fields of the year is expected at the Briggs & Stratton MOTORPLEX. Last year's Stars event at the MOTORPLEX produced one of the best ICC races seen in years when Matt Jaskol and Kyle Martin raced nose-to-tail for 25 laps.
This year, Canadian Remy Maltais, winner of both ICC main events in the Eastern Division season opener last month at BeaveRun, leads the ICC field along with local Wisconsin star Bobby Wilson and Jonathan Branum. Canadian female star Juliana Chiovitti is also expected to compete in the ICC division at Road America.
Young Robbie Pecorari must be listed as the favorite in the ICA division at the MOTORPLEX after a dominating double-win performance at BeaveRun last month.
The Stars of Tomorrow series continues on June 27-29 in one of the most prestigious races of the year at Windsor, Canada as part of the 45th annual Bell International Freedom Festival when the karting community competes in the Dodge Freedom Grand Prix of Windsor.
The Dodge Freedom Grand Prix of Windsor, featuring all of the Stars karting classes in the Windsor streets, will be billed as a specialty event on the Stars calendar, not paying points towards the season championship. There will be a $10,000 purse for the race. The 2003 Bell International Freedom Festival will run from June 23 to July 6.
For the past 44 years, millions of Canadian and American families have celebrated their unique friendship during the International Freedom Festival.
"We were looking for a new attraction that has the high-energy, charged atmosphere that appeals to a youthful audience," said Matt Beasley, president of the Board of Directors for the 45th Bell International Freedom Festival (IFF). "Kart racing with the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow gives that kind of highly visual, exciting presentation."
Beasley said they expect 30,000 spectators per day for a cumulative crowd of 90,000 for the race weekend. The event will be kicked off with the biggest fireworks show in North America on Wednesday the 25th, where one million people are expected to watch from Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.
"We are honored to be invited to participate in the International Freedom Festival," said Bobby Rahal, Stars president. "This race has the potential to be the biggest karting event in North America for this year and years to come. Stars looks forward to building a fantastic event for those that will attend and participate."
The Champ Car 'Stars of Tomorrow' presenting by RACER karting series is the official first level in CART's driver development system and an officially sanctioned series of WKA/SCCA Pro Racing. Founded by racing star Bryan Herta and now owned in conjunction with a group of racing veterans, including three-time CART champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, the Stars of Tomorrow serves as the first step for the CART driver development ladder. Stars focuses on recognizing the skills of the drivers rather than the technology development within the machines, using FIA/CIK International standards. More information can be found at www.cartstars.com.
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