Time to give a shout-out to 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner, three-time CART champion and current IndyCar Series team owner Bobby Rahal, who celebrates his 61st birthday today.
Outside of his famous exploits in American open-wheel racing, Rahal also ran a pair of races during the 1978 Formula One World Championship and later returned to F1 for a relatively brief turn as team manager for Jaguar in 2000. Additionally, he made numerous forays into sports car racing during much of the 1980s.
But the ’86 Indy remains his signature victory. As the race headed for its climax, Rahal, Rick Mears and Kevin Cogan were the main contenders but with a handful of laps remaining, it appeared Cogan was set to drink from the glass of milk – until Arie Luyendyk’s spin with six laps to go brought out a caution.
With Rahal running second behind Cogan, the green came back out with two laps to go and Rahal managed to get the jump. Cogan was left to fend off Mears for second as Rahal pulled away to the win.
The triumph was an emotional one for him and his Truesports team, whose owner Jim Trueman was nearing the end of his battle with cancer. Trueman was in attendance for Rahal’s victory, and while he sadly passed away just days later, he was able to experience a moment of pure joy at the Brickyard with his driver.
Currently, Rahal oversees the Rahal Letterman Lanigan operation, which is seeking a second driver to race alongside his son, Graham, in the upcoming IndyCar season.