The Rahal name is familiar to just about everyone in the sporting world, but for Graham Rahal, he feels like he’s just another guy with a passion for motorsports.
Being around motorsports from a young age might have been what influenced Rahal to become an IndyCar driver, but he just couldn’t stay from automobiles after seeing them for the first time.
Rahal began his career in go-karts but has since been successful in a multitude of different motorsports.
He’s won the 24 hours at Daytona, was the youngest champion of the Sports Car Club of America and has an IndyCar win under his belt as well.
While Rahal hasn’t won a race this season, he’s been close. We’re sure we’ll be seeing him on the top spot of the podium shortly.
21 QUESTIONS WITH GRAHAM RAHAL:
1. What age did you get your start in racing, and how did you begin your racing career?
I started when I was 10 when I started to race go-karts. For a lot of people that get into racing, no matter what type of racing it is, it’s entry level. I think a lot of people begin there. I started at 10, which nowadays is probably considered late. You have to start young, no matter the sport, I think.
2. Do you have a favorite childhood memory that made you realize this is what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
My dad, Bobby, won the Indy 500 and a lot of championships and races so I was always around the race track, but I have an addiction to cars. Automobiles are like my big weakness so racing was natural for me. It was something that I always really enjoyed and was passionate about. IndyCar in particular because of my connection with my dad and his path. It was something I’ve always been in love with.
3. You race for your father now. Do you think this is something that had made your relationship stronger?
My dad and I have always shared an extremely close relationship. I think a lot of people do, but racing is one of those cutthroat sports that a lot of times, when you get little-league-father syndrome going, it’s difficult to work with your sibling or parents or anyone like that, but my dad and I have always been really close. My nickname as a kid was “Shadow” because I followed him around everywhere he went. I think we have certainly grown, and we work very well together. We’re always on the same page so I think it’s worked out quite well.
4. What are your thoughts about IndyCar racing a road course at IMS?
I think that will happen. No one’s told me that but my gut feeling is we’re going to go racing there, and I think it’ll be very cool. IndyCar in Indiana is the equivalent to Alabama football in Alabama. It’s a big deal here. People are very passionate about it. The Indy 500 is the largest single-day sporting event. I think the month of May was a month full of IndyCars running around IMS, but that’s changed because of cost and other things. This may allow us to bring the month of May back. I think that’s exciting, and I hope it does.
5. Do you think rivalries and villains are good for IndyCar, or would you prefer to race without them?
I think they’re good for any sports. I think guys and gals bumping heads and having those family rivals are great for any sports. The fans find a lot of interest in that, like the Rahals versus the Andrettis and so on. I think that’s something fans pay very close attention to. I definitely think it’s good for a sport.
6. What can you say about how tough the competition is this season?
It’s been really tough. Our sport’s always competitive. I think we’re seeing that each and every weekend it’s extremely competitive. We’re getting guys and gals that the field is covered by the smallest margin maybe ever. You certainly can’t miss. If you make one little mistake, that could be the difference between being in the top five and the bottom five. That’s a tough thing to accept sometimes.
7. What is your opinion on aero kits?
I think they’re a good thing. I think it’s something that’s intriguing for the fans. We need a difference between our cars to attract fans. I’ll compare it to football – the players may look the same, but, when they have different jerseys on, people are talking about the uniforms and looks. We need that conversation to come back to IndyCar, about which cars look the sexiest and fastest. We’ve kind of lost that as of late.
8. Can you tell us some prerace rituals we can know about?
There are always a lot of superstitions. I always get in from the left side of the racecar. I always put on my right glove before my left. I always do my right-side seatbelts before my left. It’s kind of a tradition or routine for me. That’s really my only really routine. I can’t say I’m overly superstitious about anything, but these are some things I’ve become comfortable doing.
9. Are you disappointed that IndyCar will not be racing at Baltimore anymore?
I am. I’m disappointed because, frankly, I love Baltimore. I’ve started in the front row there, and have always been fast. I should’ve won it this year, but unfortunately got taken out. That’s a hard thing to accept. It’s been a track that I’ve been so good at. There are certain tracks that drivers are dominate at and suit their style, and that’s a track that has always been good for me. To know that one of my strengths is off the schedule is a little upsetting, but there’s nothing I can do.
10. We know that you postponed your NASCAR debut this season. Do you think that it’s something that’s an option for next season?
It could be, but I think the cars and series in IndyCar is faster and a sexier sport. I think the cars are cooler so I don’t ever really plan to leave it. I enjoy what I do. If there’s an opportunity, you always have to look at it, though.
11. What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
I’d say my first IndyCar win, which was in 2008 in my very first race that I ever competed in in IndyCar. I won, and that’s probably been my proudest accomplishment. I finished third in the Indy 500 two years ago, and that was good. Finishing third kind of stinks because you want to win it, but it felt good. It was a good day.
12. Which track is your favorite track to race at and why?
I have to say Indy. Indy has the history. It’s as simple as that. The fame and glory that comes along with winning the Indy 500 is particularly special.
13. We know you do a lot of charity work from the Graham Rahal Foundation to being the honorary chair at the Indy MuttStrut so why is it important for you to give back to the community and fans?
What the Graham Rahal Foundation does most is focus on kids. There are two things that are very close to my heart. I’ve always been very fortunate in my own life so I like to try and give back to support some families who are less fortunate, and make the lives of kids better if I can. Also, I grew up in a family full of animals and now I have four dogs. The mutt strut is kind of fun. It’s incredible to think you’ll have about 100,000 dogs at the speedway that day walking around. It’s been really fun and unique. You have to look back and help those who are less fortunate. I think each and all of us can do that. It doesn’t matter if you’re donating money or time. There are so many different ways to make life better. That’s what we try to do.
14. If we were to look in your fridge right now, what would we find?
You’d probably find some beer and Mountain Dew. I’m a Mountain Dew addict. You probably wouldn’t find a whole lot of food, because I can’t say I’m the best at planning ahead when it comes to grocery shopping. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to that, but you’d definitely find beer and Mountain Dew. I can guarantee that.
15. What are the top three songs played on your iPod right now?
Holy Grail- Jay Z and Justin Timberlake. It’s the one that I tend to play the most.
Bonfire Heart-James Blunt.
I have a wide variety of music I listen to.
16. We’re based out of Canada so we were a little surprised to see you follow hockey as close as you do. How did you get into the sport and which team is your favorite?
I’m a Columbus Blue Jackets fan. I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio so my sports are generally Ohio teams. I’m an Ohio State Buckeye fan. The NHL has always been a huge passion of mine. I have a few buddies who play in the league. I’ve always loved it. It’s a sport that’s full of contact and energy, and there’s always something going on. It’s a great sport to watch. It’s just fun. I think those guys, out of all the athletes I’ve met, are always the most down to earth and fun guys you can be around. I have a lot of respect for them and it’s just a fun sport.
17. If you had to choose, what would some of your guilty pleasures be?
Frozen yogurt or ice cream. I am an addict. I have the world’ biggest sweet tooth, ever. Also, my cars. I collect cars and that’s is really my addiction. I wish I could cure it, but I can’t.
18. If you could own any car ever made, what would it be?
Probably my favorite car ever made is a 2004-06 Porsche Carrera GT. It’s a super car. I already own one. Mine’s bright yellow. To me, it’s the coolest road car ever made. It’s one of those cars that will never leave my garage.
19. If you were a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, which one would you be and why?
I have no clue. I can’t remember any of them. I haven’t watched that since I was like 8 years old. I’m stumped on this question. I’m going to have to go look them up again.
20. We always have to ask this question. Are you single, taken or locked down?
I’ve had a long-term girlfriend so I’m taken. We’ve been together for two and a half years. I’ve always been a guy of commitment. Contrary to most athletes, I haven’t been the guy to date around.
21. Who would you recommend be our next Sports Babe of the Day?
I’m not a good judge of what a good-looking guy is but I would say one of the really good guys is my buddy Ricky Fowler. He’s a good dude.