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A Conversation With ... Bobby and Graham Rahal

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us in the Economaki Press Conference Room. Welcome to Saturday here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as we get things on track for the Indianapolis 500, the 94th running. It's our pleasure today to make this announcement for Rahal Letterman Racing. As you can see, we are joined by two men that need no introduction here at Indianapolis, but I'm going to give them one anyway.

On your far right, three time IndyCar Champion, the winner of the 1986 Indianapolis 500, and co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing, Mr. Bobby Rahal.

And directly to his right the youngest ever IndyCar race winner, and he will be driving the No. 30 Quick Trim RLR Special for Rahal Letterman Racing, Graham Rahal.

Gentlemen, a big announcement today, Quick Trim will be joining us as the primary sponsor on the No. 30 car. Bobby, tell us a little bit about this deal.

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, we're very pleased that we were able to come to an agreement with Quick Trim. There's a lot of interesting sort of aspects to this agreement. For those of you who may not be aware of it, Quick Trim is associated with Kim Kardashian, who will be in attendance, along with, I guess, her whole family, and the E Network, which I think is going to be great for us certainly as a team to get that kind of coverage, but also great for the series to receive that kind of coverage in something that you not normally would see it.

We're real pleased. They have been great to work with. It's sort of come at the last minute, frankly, like anything does. Of course, we only decided to enter the series, enter the race I should say, not so long ago and to commit to Graham. It's all been pretty hectic for Rahal Letterman over the last month or six weeks. But I'm very pleased, and I think we can be competitive on Race Day. For me, it's obviously a thrill to have my son drive the car for us and to be associated with this great product.

MODERATOR: Graham Rahal, as you all know, driving for Rahal Letterman Racing for the first time in open-wheel cars. He's competed with the team in sports cars, most notably getting a podium finish at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta a couple of years back.

Graham, tell us a little bit about your constant presence around Rahal Letterman headquarters over in Hilliard; but to strap in one of those cars for the first time, tell us a little bit about what's going through your head.

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, it's been a lot of fun to come and be a part of this. As you say, it's nice to have an experience that's been this kind of hands-on. I've been at the shop pretty much every day. I've been a big part of what's going on, kind of helping, trying to remember the things that I remember from what we did in Newman/Haas; and obviously, Scott Roembke, who runs the team, has been very up to date on what's going on.

But it's exciting for us to come together. As you say, I've never really driven for Dad; twice, I think, at Sebring, in Petit in the sports car a few years back. But this is a whole new experience, new adventure that we're -- basically, this month is something that's going to be a lot of fun for us.

I know that Dad clearly has had a lot of success here. If there's one guy that you would like to be involved with or someone that you can kind of take advantage of all the advice that they can give you, it's him, especially here. If you look at the record, you know, he won in '86 but finished second I don't know how many times, and third, I don't know. But seemed like more than half the time he was right up there in the top three. So I think that's pretty impressive. So we're going to try to pull from that; and clearly after my first two experiences here, we're going to try to turn some things around and make sure we get to the end.

MODERATOR: To further illustrate that point, between Bobby's driving career and his career as co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing, Rahal Letterman cars have started here at Indianapolis 32 times; 15 of those they've come home in the top 10. So a long list of successes with both Bobby behind the wheel and atop that pit wagon.

We'll go ahead and take questions from the media now. If you have a question, please hold up your hand. If you would be so kind as to wait for the wireless mike.

Q: If you could both address how interesting the dynamic is going to be not only working for the team but working for your dad, plus you've grown up with most of the guys you're going to be working with. Just how interesting is that dynamic going to be for the two of you?

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I think that we've always tried to, I think, separate kind of the business from the personal side of things. And certainly it's always been of Dad and my opinion that we needed to separate that for me to kind of make my own footsteps, so to speak, and kind of branch out. So it is something that we haven't done, as we said, and it's going to be interesting. But I do think, you know, obviously knowing everybody at the team from the top down as well as I do, because I am there all the time, I think that it's going to be a lot of fun for us because it's not like you're starting with a new team that you have no experience with, never seen them before or anything like that. I think everybody knows each other very well.

As I said, I think the advice that I can pull from Dad and, quite frankly, from Scott who -- I mean, Scott called Buddy's race here in '04 when he won. As Eric said, RLR has always had successful cars here. Even with Servia, before the fuel pump up, they got him up in the top 10 ahead of Townsend Bell and they finished fourth, and they only got one day of practice. So if you look at that, it's pretty impressive. So I think we're looking forward to today and getting everything kicked off.

BOBBY RAHAL: I think, for me personally, I always felt that Graham would come drive for us at some point. I never felt it was going to happen quite this quickly, particularly last fall when it looked like things were set.

No. 1, I'm thrilled to be back here for the 500. I really wish we were part of the series in its entirety. We're working very hard to make that happen. We've worked very hard with the IRL and everybody we could to do what we could to get here and to return to the series, and that's certainly our goal.

Getting back to the Graham equation, you know, I think we knew it would happen at one point or we thought it was a strong possibility. But, as I said, I didn't quite expect it this quickly. When Scott and I, when I said we need to get the car ready and we need to -- and, you know, we're going to put Graham in the car, I think the reaction by the team was everybody was really excited. And then a split-second later everybody is going, “Oh, we better make sure this is a good program, we've got the boss's kid in the car.” Not that we've ever come here without a good program.

It does present some dynamics that we've never really faced before. But I'm very confident in the people we have in the team, starting with Scott Roembke, and many of the people that are the mechanics. Ricardo Nault was the chief for Buddy's winning year and has been with our team for quite some time. And there's a number of other people that are part of our team that are going to be here all month, the next two weeks, I guess, is maybe a better way of putting it. So there's a lot of experience. And I think we can help give Graham a great car. At the same token, we've seen in the past you've got to have a guy who can stand on the gas to really create a great car. There's no question I think Graham has shown his ability to do that. So all in all I think, for me personally, I think it

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