Racing at the Best Places – Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal grew up at race tracks across the U.S. that included a lot of days at the mid-west circuits.

Mecca of Speed: Welcome back to Road America you are a very busy man this week.

Graham Rahal: Yeah, it’s been busy but it’s been good. It’s cool to see everybody, a lot of people here; a good buzz is in the air.

Mecca of Speed: When you or other drivers give ideas on how to improve the Indycar series, how much does the governing body listen?

Graham Rahal: I don’t know, but I hope that they listen. We try to influence the series to go to places that are great. There are a lot of people involved in the series today and some of them have never even been here. Some probably didn’t realize the size and capacity of Road America. It’s really cool to be here and see all the fans.

I hope that we can influence the series more in the future. It’s hard; everyone has their own agenda. Mine has always been to go race at the best places and this is definitely one of the best.

Mecca of Speed: When you moved up from the Atlantics to ChampCar you drove for Newman/Haas, how was that transition to a premier team at the top level of the sport?

Graham Rahal: It was great. Newman/Haas was one of the best and most successful teams for so many years. It was an honor to drive for them. I wish they were still around; it was an amazing team that was great to have as part of this series.

It’s a shame they are not racing anymore. I always had a lot of fun with that team. I wish I had the opportunity to continue to grow with that group of people. It was a great organization where I learned a lot. Bourdais was my teammate, but more than that there were a ton of good guys on that team that I was able to learn from.

Mecca of Speed: As a single car team in a series with multi car teams including three large multi car teams, does RLL hope to expand to a fulltime two-car team in the future?

Graham Rahal: It all depends on sponsorship. As a team it would be great to run a second car if we could properly gear up for it with the proper recourses and people. We have learned in the past that you can’t do this on the cheap or run a second car just to run it. You need good people and a great driver in the second car. You have to work together in order to benefit everybody.

With a one-car team it’s been good to focus our efforts on the one car. A lot of these teams would like to run more cars if they could do it properly. However some of us have seen that focusing on one car, putting all your energy in one car can be beneficial as well.

Mecca of Speed: With the aero kit additions last season, what is the level of adjustments you can make to the car?

Graham Rahal: There is a lot going into these cars right now. There is a lot of adjustability putting us on a huge learning curve. Combined that with the challenge that this is the most competitive Indycar has ever been has made this a tough season. You can go back to my dad’s era or beyond and this is the closest field we have ever see.

You have no margin for error and have to be on your game at all times. We do the absolutely best that we can every week. It’s not like it used to be with five or six guys that have a legit chance of winning every weekend and maybe a few more if it’s their weekend, so to speak.

You look up and down the paddock and almost anyone of these guys could win on a given weekend. It’s hard to believe even guys like Hawksworth or others people are not familiar with but are still extremely talented drivers. With all things going their way, they could challenge for victories.

Mecca of Speed: Currently a lot of drivers have commented on how much grip the currently Indycar is developing. For perspective how does it compare to the ChampCar you last drove here?

Graham Rahal: I would say the ChampCar had just as much grip in the end. The ChampCar was a very efficient car that cornered really well and was defiantly very fast on the straightaways.

You have to find the balance in the current car. You don’t have the horsepower so you have to trim it out. Drive a bit more on the ragged edge through the corners in order to gain the speed on the straightaways, which is difficult.

I’m not going to say that these cars have a ton more grip that the old car. If you run it in the high downforce package it’s got a lot of grip, but here we don’t do that because you would be so slow on the straights.

Mecca of Speed: You picked up a Ferarri F40 recently, have you had the opportunity to get a lot of seat time in it?

Graham Rahal: Not a ton, I’ve driven it a few hundred miles. I sent it out to California where it’s getting worked on to perfect it a little bit more. It’s a great car, something I really enjoy driving.

As far as cars are concerned, in my eyes the Ferrari F40 and the Porsche Carrera GT stand alone as the greatest road cars ever made. The F40 is a pretty special car.

Mecca of Speed: Have you gotten Acura to give you an NSX.

Graham Rahal: I got one! It’s done with the production build and I may pick it up next week. I helped with the development of that car and absolutely love it.

The original NSX was an iconic car as the first everyday super car. The new one is built with the same idea in mind. I fully intend to have it at my wife’s house out in California. It’s the only car I plan to have there as my daily driver.

Content credit Graham Rahal and John Vatne. Photo credit John Vatne.

7/10/2016