The Callahan Report: The End of an Era - Rahal to Retire after 1998
21 November 1997
COLUMBUS, OH: It doesn't seem that long ago when Bobby Rahal was a part of the changing guard in Indy style racing. After sixteen years in big time open wheel competition, Rahal announced today that 1998 will be his final year of competitive racing. At age 44, Rahal is the oldest active driver on the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) circuit.
In his press conference, Rahal said, "I promised myself that I would retire from driving when I thought I could be of greater value to my team as an owner than as a driver. I believe that time has come." Laughing, he said, "I'm asking my fellow drivers to take it easy on me and let me go out a winner."
Rahal will go out as a winner. The Ohio native won the PPG Cup in 1986, 1987, and 1992. He has 24 CART victories with the possibility of adding more in the 19 CART races to be contested in 1998. Rahal was a strong leader in several races this year (Brazil, Milwaukee, and Michigan) but had problems which kept him out of victory lane.
Rahal's most memorable and emotional year in racing was 1986. He won six races on his way to capturing the PPG Cup. It was the first year a driver earned more than $1 million in a single season. Rahal won the 1986 Indianapolis 500 less than a month before the death of his car owner and long time friend, Jim Trueman. In that same Indy win, Rahal was the first driver to run the race in less than three hours.
In 1992, Rahal was the first driver/owner to win the PPG Cup. He teamed with St. Louis businessman Carl Hogan for that Championship season. It was his first year as a team owner. Rahal has seen bad times as an owner too. In 1993, Rahal failed to make the Indy 500.
Rahal teamed up with talk show host David Letterman last year. The team also fields a car driven by the young and talented Bryan Herta. Rahal plans to continue in the sport as a team owner.
With Rahal's retirement there will be only one active driver in the CART series with an Indianapolis 500 victory. CART teams last raced at Indianapolis in 1995 when the Indy Racing League was formed. Al Unser, Jr., who continues to drive in the CART series, won the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 and 1994.