Rahal eager to return to Mid-Ohio IndyCar Series drivers make awards show
1. Rahal eager to return to Mid-Ohio: Graham Rahal has fond memories of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course from his many visits as a child.
That was a decade ago, when the circuit his father competed on was Graham’s summer playground. It still is, but this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance takes on a different tone for the 19-year-old Rahal. The driver of the No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing returns in the big leagues.
“Mid-Ohio was always a place as a kid we went to and we would take our friends along and go play,” said Rahal, who grew up 60 miles away in New Albany, Ohio. “You could certainly get in plenty of trouble especially. Dad would stay in the motorhome (in the infield) so at night we’d always take the golf carts out and the security guys would get all mad. Memories of that place and Cleveland always stand out to me the most.”
Bobby Rahal made 16 starts (1983-98) at Mid-Ohio during the CART days. He posted eight top-three finishes, including victories in 1985 and ’86. He drove for his own team beginning in 1992.
“It’s going to be nice for me because I’ll have my friends and family there, which is something that rarely happens,” Rahal said of the extensive guest list. “And being that it is so close to home feels quite good.”
In September 2005, Graham claimed the SCCA National Formula Atlantic championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group Swift 014 at Mid-Ohio – 30 years after his father won the Formula Atlantic title.
“It will feel good to go back there for that reason as well,” he said. “Knowing that dad had won the same championship 30 years before then, that was definitely a cool feeling.”
Rahal, who became the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history in April on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., advanced 10 positions to finish eighth on the last road course (Watkins Glen International on July 6). He’s looking forward to competing for the first time in the IndyCar Series on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio layout.
“I think we have a shot to win at the end of it all,” he said. “Aside from them paving it, overall it’s pretty close to what it was (in 2005) and that’s pretty cool. I really enjoy the track; it’s a physical track. It can be quick and it can be at times a pretty daring track. I look forward to getting there and going through all the steps to see what we can do.”
2. IndyCar Series drivers make awards show visits: Helio Castroneves arrived at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course July 17 following a star-studded week at awards shows in Pasadena and Hollywood, Calif.
On July 16, Castroneves was a co-presenter on stage during the 16th ESPY Awards and was a correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight” on the red carpet prior to the event.
“It’s all in a day’s work,” he said July 16.
A day earlier, the Team Penske driver who is second in the IndyCar Series standings heading into the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance received the Auto Racer of the Year Award during the inaugural Univision Premios Deportes Awards in Pasadena, Calif. (broadcast July 20 on Univision).
"It is truly an honor to be recognized by the Latin community for my contribution to the sports world," said Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who is second in the IndyCar Series championship standings. "Being from Brazil, the Latin community in the United States is a tremendously important part of my life. To be considered one of the top Latin drivers competing in America is something I'm very proud of.”
Castroneves was joined at the ESPYs by WNBA player and award winner Candace Parker to present the International Female Athlete award.
Danica Patrick, a double ESPY nominee, also was a presenter during the show hosted by Justin Timberlake. Actor Forest Whitaker joined the Andretti Green Racing driver to hand out the Best Upset award. IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was nominated in the Best Driver category.
The ESPYs will be broadcast at 9 p.m. (ET) July 20 on ESPN.
On Sept. 22, Castroneves will be among the honorees during the 23rd Great Sports Legends Dinner in New York.
Joining the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion on the dais will be tennis champion Andre Agassi, NFL all-time receiving leader Jerry Rice, Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs and seven-time NBA All-Star Scottie Pippen.
Bob Costas will be the master of ceremonies for the event that benefits the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, a nonprofit organization that serves as the national fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio Presented by Westfield Insurance July 20 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with a doubleheader race weekend at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. The first Mid-Ohio 100 is scheduled for 5:25 p.m., on July 19. The second race will take plac eat 10:35 a.m., on July 20. Both races will air at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 24 on ESPN2 and live on indycar.com.