INDIANAPOLIS -- Graham Rahal doesn't want to follow his
father into open-wheel racing in the United States. He wants to
drive in Formula One in Europe.
First, he'll take what he hopes is a minor detour. At 17 he'll
be the youngest driver in the Indy Pro Series at the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway's Liberty Challenge on July 1.
The IRL developmental series event is the day before the Formula
One U.S. Grand Prix, and Rahal knows the F1 teams will be watching.
He hopes to impress them, then catch on with a European
developmental program next year.
"I'm looking forward to my future," Graham said during a news
conference Tuesday at the Speedway. "Obviously, the [Indianapolis]
500 is something I want to do. I always have since I was a kid. But
my ultimate would be to compete here in Formula One."
His father, Bobby Rahal, won the 1986 Indianapolis 500, and
Graham appears on his way to a successful racing career. He became
the youngest to win a Champ Car Atlantic series event this year in
Graham knows Marco Andretti, the 19-year-old Indy 500 runner-up,
but he wants to go another route.
"It's nice to see [Andretti] perform well, but at the same
time, it doesn't swing my opinion toward going to Formula One,"
Graham said. "F1 is at the top of the sport. No matter what
Marco's success is, Marco's got to make his own path and I've got
to make mine. Certainly, he has gotten the recognition this year
because of Indy. I hope to go to Europe and make a mark, and that's
what's most important to me."
Graham will compete for the Kenn Hardley Racing with teammate
Bobby Wilson, who won the Indy Pro Series' most recent event at
Watkins Glen, N.Y.
"This is a great opportunity for Graham," Bobby Rahal said. "He's
on a good team, and his teammate is obviously one off the best guys
in the series. I think the team as a whole has got a good chance to
Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing in the IRL, is
glad to support his son's Formula One ambitions.
"Ever since he was a little boy, that has been what he has
wanted to do," he said. "I've got the reins pulled back half the
time, but he's doing such a great job, who knows where he's going
to end up?"