SKUSA: Graham Rahal to debut at Homestead

Graham Rahal makes big jump in Karting; 13-year-old starts 125cc Shifter Class. Bobby Rahal's son begins SKUSA Florida Winter Series this week. HOMESTEAD, FLA. (Dec. 10, 2002) -- Graham Rahal knows he'll have some tough competition this weekend...

Graham Rahal makes big jump in Karting; 13-year-old starts 125cc Shifter Class.
Bobby Rahal's son begins SKUSA Florida Winter Series this week.

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (Dec. 10, 2002) -- Graham Rahal knows he'll have some tough competition this weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway.

The 13-year-old son of three-time CART champion Bobby Rahal makes the big move into karting's toughest division -- 125cc Shifter Karts -- this weekend (Dec. 12-15) in the opening race of the five-race SKUSA Florida Winter Series.

Rahal, an eighth grader at New Albany (Ohio) Middle School, showed his medal last year on the national karting series by placing seventh in the final standings for the 80cc Junior Shifter division including scoring a victory in Portland, Ore.

The 5-foot-11, 140-pounder just missed an opportunity to place in the top three in his rookie season on the national circuit when he suffered through a tough weekend at the SKUSA World Finals in Norman, Okla., in September.

"This move to the 125cc Shifter class is a big move for me," said Rahal, who currently holds down a busy school schedule with eight classes. "I'll be one of the youngest in the country in this class and I'm racing against some of the top karting drivers right now. Guys like Bobby Wilson, Kyle Martin and Preston Peebles are some of the top drivers in the nation. Now I'll be going against them. It's a challenge."

Rahal's father, the 1986 Indy 500 winner believes Graham has shown his abilities in the smaller class and deserves this new opportunity.

"Graham has learned a lot in the karts in the past year," said Bobby, who'll field cars in CART Champ Cars, Indy Racing League and Toyota Atlantic in 2003. "He is growing too and needs to be in the bigger and more powerful karts. I think he knows this series is very competitive and he'll need to be ready both mentally and physically."

Graham Rahal has already been training hard this winter.

"It's been a little tough staying off soda pop and pizza right now," said Graham. "But I am stronger and I have been training every day. I feel very good right now."

Rahal, who turns age 14 on January 4, will be joining one of karting's top teams in 2003 with the Montreal-based PSL Racing, a racing operation that has produced numerous karting champions.

"Going with PSL is a great deal for me," said Graham, who starts the Florida Series this weekend by competing in the Homestead Miami Speedway parking lot. "We have CRG chassis and strong 125cc motors. This class is just like the one in Europe and it's very tough. I know I'll learn a lot in this division."

The Homestead round is the opening event of the SKUSA Florida Winter Karting Series that also includes rounds at Ocala (twice), Gainesville and Jacksonville.

Last year at Homestead, Rahal won the Rotax Junior class and placed second in the 80cc Junior division.

"The Homestead is shorter than many of the other Florida tracks," said Rahal. "But it's pretty fast and I expect some good racing there. I'm anxious to get started."

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Series Kart
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Graham Rahal , Preston Peebles , Bobby Wilson