Rahal Letterman Wins 2004 Indy 500

February 2, 2012 by staff 

Rahal Letterman Wins 2004 Indy 500, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is an auto racing team that currently races in the American Le Mans Series and part-time in the IndyCar Series. Based in Hilliard, Ohio, it is co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, television talk show host David Letterman, and businessman Mike Lanigan.

The team was established in 1991 as Rahal-Hogan Racing, became Team Rahal in 1994, and was known as Rahal Letterman Racing from May 2004 until December 2010.

Following the 1991 CART season, Bobby Rahal left the Galles-Kraco Racing team. Despite consistent top finishes, Rahal actually won only two races from 1989-1991. Likewise, Danny Sullivan left the Patrick Racing team, following a dismal season with the Alfa Romeo engine. The two drivers essentially swapped rides. Sullivan joined Galles, and Rahal joined Patrick. By the winter of 1991, however, Patrick Racing started to collapse due to financial and legal issues regarding the Alfa Romeo engine. Rumors had surfaced that Patrick had based parts of the Alfa-Romeo engine on the Chevrolet Indycar engine.

Around December 1991, Rahal and new partner Carl Hogan acquired the assets of Patrick Racing. A new team was formed, known as Rahal-Hogan Racing. In 1992, the team won the IndyCar World Series title on their first try, with owner-driver Bobby Rahal driving the “tried-and-true” Lola-Chevrolet IndyCar.

In late 1992, Rahal-Hogan absorbed the Truesports racing team, which Rahal had been a part of from 1982-1988. The team moved its headquarters from Indianapolis to Hilliard, into the old Truesports facility. Along with the acquisition, they attempted to take over the two-year old Truesports all-American chassis program. Rahal began the season with an updated version of the Truesports chassis, with the intention of introducing a brand-new Rahal-Hogan (R/H) chassis later in the year. A second place finish at Long Beach offered some promise. The success was short-lived however, as the chassis proved uncompetitive on superspeedways. AfterRahal failed to qualify at Indianapolis, the team switched to a more conventional Lola, while team driver Mike Groff attempted to salvage a season out of the R/H. Eventually the team abandoned the chassis project.

In 1994, Rahal-Hogan introduced the Honda HRX Indy V-8 engine to the IndyCar World Series, but split with the manufacturer after Rahal finished a disappointing tenth place in the standings. At Indianapolis, the engine proved uncompetitive, and Rahal risked missing the race for the second year in a row. He borrowed two Penske-Ilmor machines, and finished third in the race. In 1996, Carl Hogan left the team, and started his own racing operation. As a result, the team changed its name to Team Rahal and Hogan started Hogan Racing.

In early 1996, Rahal’s longtime friend, and avid race fan, comedian David Letterman, purchased a small share of the team.

Over the next few years, the team would employ Bryan Herta, Max Papis, Kenny Br?ck and Michel Jourdain, Jr., getting closest to another title in 2001, when Br?ck finished 2nd in points. Rahal himself retired from driving at the end of 1998.

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