Rahal Letterman Racing


Rahal Letterman Racing

Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) is an auto racing team that currently races in the IndyCar Series. It is co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and television talk show host and comedian David Letterman and is based in Hilliard, Ohio.

CART IndyCar World Series (1992-2003)

The team formed in 1992 after Rahal and partner Carl Hogan acquired the assets to the former Patrick Racing team in late 1991. At the time, it was known as Rahal-Hogan Racing. The team won the IndyCar World Series title on their first try, with owner-driver Bobby Rahal, with Rahal driving the "tried-and-true" Lola-Chevrolet IndyCar.

In 1993, Rahal-Hogan absorbed the Truesports racing team, which Rahal had been a part of from 1982-1988. The team moved its headquarters from Indianapolis to Hilliard, into the old Truesports facility. Along with the acquisition, they attempted to take over the two-year old Truesports all-American chassis program. Rahal began the season with an updated version of the Truesports chassis, with the intention of introducing a brand-new Rahal-Hogan (R/H) chassis later in the year. A second place finish at Long Beach offered some promise. The success was short-lived however, as the chassis proved uncompetitive on superspeedways. The team was dealt a massive blow when Rahal failed to qualify at Indianapolis. The following week they switched to the more conventional Lola, while team driver Mike Groff attempted to salvage a season out of the R/H. Eventually the team abandoned the chassis project.

In 1994, Rahal-Hogan introduced the Honda HRX Indy V-8 engine to the IndyCar World Series, but split with the manufacturer after Rahal finished a disappointing 10th place in the standings. At Indianapolis, the engine proved uncompetitive, and Rahal risked missing the race for the second year in a row. He borrowed two Penske-Ilmor machines, and finished third in the race. In 1996, the team changed its name to Team Rahal. Over the next few years, the team would employ Bryan Herta, Max Papis, Kenny Bräck and Michel Jourdain, Jr., getting closest to another title in 2001, when Bräck finished 2nd in points. Bobby Rahal retired from driving at the end of 1998.

Around 1998, Rahal's longtime friend, and avid race fans, comedian David Letterman, purchased a small share of the team.

IRL IndyCar Series (2004 - Present)

The team changed its name again to Rahal Letterman Racing in May 2004.

For the 2005 season, RLR's three drivers were Buddy Rice, who won the 2004 Indianapolis 500 while driving for the team, Vitor Meira, who finished second in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, and Danica Patrick, who finished fourth in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, and had the highest finish of any female driver (3 previous) in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

Also in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, former team member Kenny Bräck, who was replaced by Rice when he suffered a serious injury in 2003, replaced Rice when he was injured in pre-race practice. Rice was able to recover in time to race in the next IndyCar race.

The Rahal-Letterman team had high hopes for 2006. Meira had left the team after the 2005 season to join Panther Racing. He was replaced by Paul Dana who brought an Ethanol sponsorship. [ [http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/02-24-2005/0003072393&EDATE= Remy to Sponsor Paul Dana in the Ethanol Hemelgarn Indy Racing League Entry] , PRNewswire, February 24, 2005]

The team placed three cars in the top nine for the Toyota Indy 300 during March 25, 2006, qualifying (Patrick third, Rice sixth, Dana ninth), and expected good things to come the next day for the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Unfortunately, tragedy took place during final practice Sunday morning. Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter crashed in turn two and the car slid down the 20-degree banking. Dana, who seemed to not receive the signal from the spotter, ran into the gearbox section of Carpenter's car, sending Dana's car flying on the backstretch. Dana died in the hospital later that afternoon, and the entire team, including Patrick and Rice, withdrew immediately.

Patrick and Rice raced together at St. Petersburg, Florida with the third car vacant out of respect, but effective the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 at Motegi, Japan, Jeff Simmons was added as the team's third driver. In mid 2006 the team switched from Panoz to Dallara chassis.

Prior to the 2006 Monterey Sports Car Championships, Rahal Letterman Racing announced that the team will be fielding a Porsche 997 GT3-RSR in the American Le Mans Series in 2007.

For the 2007 IndyCar Series, RLR fielded two cars, one for Simmons and one for IndyCar veteran Scott Sharp. They were unable to find sponsorship to field a third car for 2004 Indianapolis 500 Champion Buddy Rice, who moved to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. However, with Simmons struggling, RLR released him and picked up former Champ Car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay impressed many with a 7th place finish at the Honda 200. Consistent finishes gave Ryan and the team the Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year award despite making only 7 starts.

Other racing

Rahal Letterman fielded a Porsche 911 GT3 in the American Le Mans Series in 2007. In 2008 they will field the BMW's works-backed M3, based on the new V8-powered E92 coupe chassis. They will continue to compete in the GT2 class. [ [http://www.speedarena.com/news/publish/sportscar/article_8439.shtml BMW, M3 Returning To American Le mans Series With Rahal Letterman] , IMSA Press Release, February 6, 2008]

Champ Car drivers

IndyCar drivers

*Paul Dana was killed in final practice for the March 26, 2006, Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and never officially recorded a start in the IndyCar Series with the team. After sitting out the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Jeff Simmons was named to drive the Ethanol #17 entry for the balance of the 2006 season. Midway though the 2007 season, Simmons was released and replaced with Ryan Hunter-Reay.

References

External links

* [http://www.rahal.com/ Rahal Letterman Racing official website]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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