Bobby Rahal will be the honoree for the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2011, scheduled for March 11-13, at The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach. Indy Car legend Rahal has impacted the sport like few other drivers and continues today as a team principal in Rahal Letterman Racing.
“One of the great pleasures about Amelia is that we can honor the best of the best and Bobby Rahal certainly falls into the category,” says Bill Warner, Amelia Island Concours founder and co-chairman. “In nearly 20 years of racing, his record speaks for itself and he is still going strong today managing a successful racing team along with his son’s budding racing career. We are honored and excited to have him with us on Amelia Island.”
Robert “Bobby” Woodward Rahal was born in Medina, Ohio, in 1953, and worked his way up through the racing ranks starting with the SCCA’s feeder series to Formula Atlantic and then onto European Formula Two. In an 18-year career spanning F1, Can-Am, Le Mans/IMSA, and CART, Rahal notched three CART championships, including a win at the 1986 Indy 500, along with wins at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races.
One of open wheel racing’s most consistent drivers during his career, Rahal started 264 races for five teams and he took 18 poles and scored 24 wins. He collected back-to-back CART championships in 1986 & ’87, and picked up his third in 1992, and was twice honored with the prestigious Driver of the Year Award . When Buddy Rice won the 2004 Indy 500, Rahal became only one of three men to win the Indy 500 as both a driver and a team owner.
Following his retirement from competitive racing after the 1998 season, Rahal spent time with Jaguar’s F1 effort and in mid-2000, he returned to the U.S. to become the interim boss of CART. Along with late night talk show icon David Letterman, he is a principal in Rahal Letterman Racing where Rahal has overseen the growth of Rahal Letterman Racing from a one-car program to a multi-car, multi-discipline organization. Rahal has been responsible for finding and developing some of the top-young talent in open-wheel racing.
Among his current and past protégées are Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick and Vitor Meira. It also was Bobby Rahal who was responsible for bringing Honda into North American open-wheel racing in the early 90s, an involvement as a manufacturer that has produced eight championships and over 100 victories including three Indy 500 triumphs.
In addition, his team has joined with BMW North America in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and Rahal is the driving force behind the new HMP Legends of Motorsports historic racing series. Along with Rahal Letterman Racing, he operates Rahal Automotive Group, a string of car dealerships in Pennsylvania, and is very active in the community through the Bobby Rahal Foundation.
“I feel extremely privileged to receive this honor, especially at an event of the magnitude of the Amelia Island Concours,” Rahal said. “I have attended Amelia Island a number of times and Bill Warner and his talented crew never fail to put forth a first-class effort. I am humbled to be joining such a prestigious group of honorees and am looking forward to seeing many friends and some great cars at this year’s event.”
The 2011 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held March 11-13 on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The show’s Foundation has donated nearly $1.7 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996.
For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org.
[Source: Amelia Island Concours 2011; photo credit: Tim Scott / Fluid Images]