Co-Owner, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
On Jan. 27, 2019, BMW Team RLL won the GTLM class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Robert “Bobby” Woodward Rahal was born in Medina, Ohio, in 1953, and started in SCCA’s Formula Atlantic Series and then European Formula Two. In an 18-year career spanning F1, Can-Am, Le Mans/IMSA, and CART, Rahal notched three CART championships, including the 1986 Indy 500 win, and wins at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races.
In open-wheel racing, Rahal started 264 races for five teams and scored 18 poles and 24 wins. He collected back-to-back CART championships in 1986 and ’87, and picked up his third in 1992. When Buddy Rice won the 2004 Indy 500, Rahal became only one of a handful of individuals to win the Indy 500 as both a driver and a team owner.
After retiring from driving in 1998, he joined Jaguar’s F1 effort and in mid-2000 he returned to the U.S. to be the interim boss of CART. Along with David Letterman and businessman Michael Lanigan, he is a principal in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing where Rahal has overseen the growth of the team from a one-car program to a multi-car, multi-discipline organization. He’s developed some of the top young talent in open-wheel racing, including Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick, Bryan Herta, Max Papis, Kenny Brack, Jimmy Vasser and Michel Jourdain Jr. He also brought Honda into North American open-wheel racing in the early ‘90s, that has produced for Honda 16 driver championships and more than 237 victories including 12 Indy 500 wins (2004-2018).
His team won the 2010 GT team and manufacturers championships in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with BMW and swept the top two spots in the 2011 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, earning the 2011 ALMS GT drivers championships for Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. In 2012, the team earned back-to-back Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring wins and was second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship. In 2013 BMW Team RLL earned two wins, seven podium finishes and four poles en route to second place in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. In 2014, the team joined the United Sports Car Series (USCC), later renamed the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has totaled 17 wins, 23 poles and 68 podiums and second place in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. In 2018, the team brought BMW its first victory with the all-new M8 GTE and followed up with back-to-back wins, six podiums and three poles over the two-car program. The 2019 season brings great promise for success. in 2018, the team entered the world’s first production-based electric vehicle race series – the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY — with a two-car effort for 2018-19.
Rahal was the driving force behind the new HMP Legends of Motorsports historic racing series that was purchased by an outside group late in 2011. Along with his leadership of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, he operates Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, a string of car dealerships in Pennsylvania, is President of the Road Racing Drivers Club, former Chairman of the International Motor Racing Research Center Governing Council at Watkins Glen (2015-2018) and is active in the community through the Bobby Rahal Foundation. He was Chairman of the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Foundation from August 2012 until the fall of 2016.