When someone was born in the family known in the motorsport world, it's natural to become a racing driver. Graham Rahal knew that and decided to follow the footsteps of his father Bobby, the three-time Indy Car champion, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and former Formula One driver.
Graham Rahal was born on January 4th, 1989, in Columbus, Ohio. In that time, his father Boby was already a two-time Indy Car champion and Indy 500 winner. When Graham was three years old, Bobby won one more championship title.
Graham started his racing career at the age of 15
The young Graham had gasoline in his veins and he started to race at the age of 15. He debuted in the 2004 Formula BMW USA, finishing 7th in the standings, scoring one podium in 14 races. The next step in his early career was the 2005 Star Mazda championship and he scored his first victory. With five more podiums, he finished fourth in the final classification. The highlight of the season was Graham's victory at the annual SCCA National Championship Runoffs in the Formula Atlantic category.
Between the seasons 2005 and 2006, Rahal participated in the A1 Grand Prix Series, driving for Team Lebanon, as he had Lebanese origins. He raced at the last three rounds (Mexico, USA and China) and finished best in the 11th place.
2006 Atlantic Championship runner-up
In 2006, Graham Rahal moved to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship to drive the full-season schedule for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing. He won five of 12 races to finish as runner-up, behind Simon Pagenaud, who won only one race but collected sixteen points more than Rahal.
During that season, Rahal also appeared in some other competitions, such as the Indy Pro event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Rolex 24 Daytona and 12 hours of Sebring. At Daytona, he was driving Porsche 997 GT3 Cup for Tafel Racing. His co-drivers were Wolf Henzler, Robin Liddell and Johannes van Overbeek. They finished 16th overall and 6th in GT class. At Sebring 12-hour race, Rahal partnered Mike Rockenfeller and Klaus Graf in the Alex Job Racing's Porsche 996 GT3 and they took 6th place in GT2 class.
The younger Rahal for the first time in the older Rahal's car
In 2007, he returned to Daytona and Sebring. At Daytona 24-hour race, he competed in the Southard Motorsports Riley prototype but didn't finish the race. At Sebring, Graham competed for the first time for his father's team Rahal Letterman Racing. His co-drivers in the #18 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR were Ralf Kelleners and Tom Milner. They finished 6th in GT2 class.
In March, it was announced that Rahal would join Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in the Champ Car World Series, alongside Simon Pagenaud. In his debut race in Las Vegas, Rahal crashed on the first lap and retired. Later in the season, he reached four podiums to finish 5th in the points. At the age of 18, he became the youngest ever podium finished in the Champ Car history.
Rahal won the race in the IndyCar Series debut
Another historic moment followed in 2008. The team entered the IndyCar Series and Graham won his first race on the streets of St. Petersburg, becoming the youngest ever winner in the IndyCar Series. He was 19 years and 93 days old. Later in the season, he wasn't so successful and his best result was 8th place at Watkins Glen and Sonoma. At his first Indianapolis 500, Graham started 13th and finished 33rd. At the end of the season, he was 17th in the points.
Earlier in the season, Rahal didn't miss the 24 hours of Daytona. He was driving the Riley prototype for Michael Shank Racing, alongside Justin Wilson, Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri. The #60 crew finished the race in 6th place.
The youngest IndyCar pole-sitter ever
In 2009, Rahal only had the IndyCar Series in his racing schedule. He was driving the #02 car for the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. He set another record winning the pole position at season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, becoming the youngest ever pole-sitter in the series. He finished seventh in St.Petersburg. With two podiums later in the season, Rahal finished 7th in the final classification.
Four different teams in 2010
Rahal lost his seat in the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing for the 2010 IndyCar Series season because McDonald's canceled the sponsorship. Sarah Fisher Racing hired Rahal for three events at the start of the season (St.Petersburg, Alabama, Long Beach). At the 2010 Indianapolis 500, Graham was driving for his father's team Rahal Letterman Racing. He qualified in the seventh position and finished 12th.
On June 10, Rahal replaced the injured Mike Conway in the #24 car of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Iowa Speedway. After that, he returned to Newman/Haas Racing for six races and to Sarah Fisher Racing for one more race. In total, Rahal participated in 12 races for four different teams and finished 20th in the 2010 standings.
Sensational victory at Rolex 24 at Daytona
For the 2011 season, Rahal signed to drive the #38 car for Chip Ganassi Racing. But, before the IndyCar Series started, Rahal returned to Daytona 24-hour race after two years of absence and he won the race. The victorious car was the #01 Riley-BMW of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Rahal's teammates were Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Joey Hand.
Third place at the 2011 Indianapolis 500
In the first IndyCar season with Chip Ganassi's team, Rahal finished 9th in the points, scoring three podiums in 17 races, including the third place at Indianapolis 500. At the biggest American race, Rahal started 29th on the grid and made the biggest improvement of all drivers, finishing on the podium alongside Dan Wheldon and JR Hildebrand.
In 2012, Graham traveled to Australia to race V8 Supercars
In 2012, Rahal's only podium was second place at Texas Motor Speedway and he finished 10th in the standings. At 2012 Daytona 24-hour race, Rahal again partnered Pruett, Rojas and Hand in the #01 Riley-BMW, but this time, they crossed the finish line in the 6th position.
In October 2012, Graham traveled to Australia to join Rick Kelly in the V8 Supercars races at the Surfers Paradise. He participated in two races, finishing 8th and 11th.
Graham joined his father's team in 2013
A significant change in Graham Rahal's career followed in 2013. He joined Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to drive the #15 car for the full IndyCar season. He scored a podium with second place in the third round of the season at Long Beach, but later in the season, the results weren't good and Graham was just 18th in the points.
At Daytona, Rahal switched to BMW
The season 2014 started with 24 hours of Daytona. Rahal competed with RLL Racing's BMW Z4 GTE, alongside Dirk Muller, Dirk Werner and John Edwards. They finished 4th in the GTLM class. In the 2014 IndyCar Series, the results were similar to the previous year, with just one podium at the streets of Detroit and 20th place in the final standings.
Racing for the title until the end of the season
In the 2015 IndyCar Series season, Graham Rahal was the one of the championship title contenders. He won at Auto Club Speedway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Two races before the end of the season, with two victories and four more podiums, Rahal was second in the points. At Pocono Raceway, in a tragic race when Justin Wilson was killed, Rahal finished 20th, but he remained among six drivers who had mathematical chance to win the title. At the season finale at Sonoma, Rahal finished 18th and dropped to 4th place in the final standings.
The all-new BMW M6 GTLM was the car for the 2016 Daytona 24-hours race, but Rahal and his teammates didn't reach the finish. They retired after 360 laps. In the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series, Graham Rahal was again the leading driver of the Rahal Letterman Racing, in the #15 Honda powered Dallara DW12. With one victory (Texas) and three more podiums, he finished fifth in the points.
Video : Graham Rahal at Indianapolis road course