Rahal/Letterman Racing

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Rahal.com

Rahal Letterman Racing is owned by retired driver Bobby Rahal and racing aficionado Dave Letterman. The team traces its origin to the formation of Rahal/Hogan Racing in 1992, when Rahal realized a lifelong dream by forming his own race team. A three-time CART champion (1986, 1987 and 1992) as a driver, Rahal became the first rookie owner-driver in series history to capture a championship when he led his team to four victories and the season title in the team’s inaugural season.

Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion, concluded his Hall of Fame driving career in 1998 with 24 victories and 18 pole positions. He started 265 races and produced 177 top-10 finishes and 119 top-five finishes. Rahal, who was inducted into the International and U.S. Motorsports Halls of Fame in 2004, also captured the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring.

Letterman, an Indianapolis native who has become a television icon, was a regular visitor to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a child. The host of the CBS-TV “Late Show with David Letterman” had casual discussions with Rahal since they met in 1986 about his interest in getting involved in racing as a participant. In early 1996, the talk transformed into an agreement as Letterman became a minority-interest owner in Team Rahal.

The headquarters of Rahal Letterman Racing is one of the finest race shop facilities of its type in the world of motorsports. Encompassing nearly 60,000 square feet of space in suburban Columbus, Ohio, it houses, in two adjacent buildings, all of the personnel and equipment necessary to develop, field and maintain Rahal Letterman’s IRL IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series programs and in the past has housed the team’s Champ Car, Atlantic, Indy Lights and Formula BMW programs.

The building provides space for 65 race team members and associates attending to Rahal’s non-racing-related business enterprises. Each building features a lobby, which houses a retired car from the team’s livery and many of the trophies and images commemorating past triumphs. Individual areas of the shop are specialized for the preparation and maintenance of the race cars: the main race shop, located in the new building, is where mechanical work on the IndyCar program is done; the composites area, where body panels are molded and created; the machine shop, where tools and parts are made; the fabrication area, where sheet metal parts are formed; the shock room, where suspension testing and production are completed; and a paint booth, where the cars are finished and decaled.

Though purpose-built to house a state-of-the-art race shop, the original building was not always home to Rahal Letterman Racing. Built in 1984, the facility originally was designed for the Hilliard, Ohio-based Truesports Racing team whose driver, ironically, was an Indy Car youngster by the name of Bobby Rahal.

When the Truesports team disbanded in 1992, a then-new team owner/driver Rahal coincidentally was looking for a permanent home for his new racing operation he had inherited from the purchase of Indianapolis-based Patrick Racing. He leased the building and promptly moved his fledgling team there in November of that year.

Rahal Letterman Racing broke ground in 2001 on a multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art 22,000-square-foot race shop adjacent to the original location. The new race shop is the first phase of a planned 50,000-square-foot expansion that will comprise the team’s headquarters for years to come.

It is from this campus that Rahal Letterman Racing has carved a niche as one of the prominent teams in North American open-wheel racing.

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