Get To Know: Graham Rahal
It was fun in “Cool Runnings”. A ‘down on their luck’ underdog team that ran a bobsled despite errors of naivety. A heart warming story in the end, and maybe one of the reasons it’s one of Graham Rahal’s favorite movies.
I’ll be damned, though, if it was fun when it happened to him. It wasn’t naivety- just an error that can occur when the stakes are high and the seconds are ticking. No one person’s fault, really.
Just part of a team’s bad luck- not knowing a wheel wasn’t fastened before ordering the car back on track. Two turns later, and the Honda that had charged from fifteenth to the lead was resting along the retaining wall. If the driver was going to match the feat of his father‘s 1986 Indianapolis 500 win, it was going to have to be another year.
Graham Robert Rahal was born in Ohio in January of 1989, just a little under three years from the day his father took the 70th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Bobby Rahal taught the world about loyalty and dedication that day, gracefully tempering his celebration while sharing it with car owner and dear friend Jim Trueman. Trueman’s frail body surely needed that swig of milk- his colon cancer overcoming him eleven days later. Yet, there in Victory Lane, he relished in the win of the man he’d stood by from the beginning. “Couldn’t have been better”, he mustered the strength to tell his driver.
Graham Rahal knows the story. He knows it well. He knows of that loyalty, that dedication, and he shows it every chance he gets to talk about from where he came.
His beloved Ohio State Buckeyes. His passion for the Columbus Blue Jackets. His admiration for the Mid Ohio Sports Car course. It’s as though he wants the world to always know. OH- IO.
He’s had lots of opportunity to tell the world where he’s from. The kid named for 1966 Indy Champion Graham Hill was the 2nd youngest starter in IndyCar history when he made his debut at 18, a season later he won St. Pete, the youngest driver to ever take the checkered flag. Yet, with all the races, all the travel, his home gets just as much of his heart.
He and wife Courtney, a successful racer and daughter of NHRA legend John Force, are parents of Harlan and Tinley. The young family is complimented by Rahal’s love of dogs, and the couple runs the ‘Graham and Courtney Rahal Foundation’ to help children with medical needs.
He graduated from High School with a 3.8 grade point average, and admits, “for the effort I put in, the result was great!”.
Today, some of his efforts outside the car go towards results for others, inside one. He opened Graham Rahal Performance, a custom auto tuning and performance parts company, at age 27.
His father Bobby once said, “It’s good to be Graham”. While that may be true, it’s a fortune that’s largely self grown. He’s always got time to meet with a sponsor or chat with fans, and no driver does more to promote the sport. Through it all, he’s never shied from where he came.
He still watches “Caddyshack” and is a scratch golfer who has won Pro-Am tournaments. But, there’s still one itch the 33 year old has yet to quell.
To take that swig of milk like his Dad did with Jim Trueman.
All while being a man true to himself.
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