Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has been in the news a lot this year, primarily due to its new commercial partner of the National Guard, and new (old) second driver Oriol Servia on a part-time basis along with Graham Rahal.
Then they had a transporter fire on the way to St. Petersburg for the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener, needed to turn around and head back for a new one, and Graham Rahal successfully threw down in practice on Friday. He ended 14th in the race, which was an unrepresentative result given a monster start from 21st up to 10th.
And then today happened… and the racing world got Rahal-Rolled.
Although the 1998 season was billed as “Rahal’s Last Ride,” 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy car champion Bobby Rahal has decided to come out of retirement to participate in the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500. Details of the sponsorship for the No. 61 entry, to be fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, will be unveiled in the near future.
Funny, but it ain’t happening. It was just an April Fools’ joke.
That’s not to say people weren’t tweeting about it when it happened, including former INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. Here are some tweets that came in after that announcement.
Happy April first .. I don’t believe it … Would love to see just don’t believe it @DaveFurst @RLLracing @BobRahal
— Randy Bernard (@RandyRFDTV) April 1, 2014
This from Rahal’s former competitor and another team owner, Jimmy Vasser.
@BobRahal April Fools?
— jimmy vasser (@jimmyvasser) April 1, 2014
This was Porsche factory sports car driver Patrick Long’s reaction.
@RLLracing@BobRahal is today April 1st???
— Patrick Long (@pLmotorsport) April 1, 2014
Veteran race reporter John Kernan tweeted this out, and Florida-based reporter Brant James said he read through most of the press release.
April Fools? @RLLRacing sent this out – Bobby Rahal to Attempt to Qualify for the Indianapolis 500 http://t.co/KQ6IY8prIA trying to find out
— rpm2night (@rpm2nightcom) April 1, 2014
I suppose @RLLracing and @BobRahal can take amusement in that I pulled my car over and read to the quote. #IndyCar
— brant james (@brantjames) April 1, 2014
Fans wanted in, too.
@RLLracing if this wasn’t April 1 it would be awesome news to see @BobRahal back on the track.
— Todd Novak (@YinzerStuckInOH) April 1, 2014
@DaveFurst @RLLracing @BobRahal i told myself i would not believe anything i read today, yet i still found myself believing this,nicely done
— Tommy McDaniel (@tmcdaniel92) April 1, 2014
@RLLracing @BobRahal @michaelandretti both of u should, 1 last hurrah, so u can battle it out with ur sons! With mgd, and Kmart as sponsors
— sean hall (@goosehall63) April 1, 2014
Even Graham Rahal tweeted about it… before giving away the joke at the end with a smiley face.
I’m excited dad will be drivin at Indy w/ me in his No. 61 Biolectrix Prostate Donut Cushion machine! I’m sure he will get comfy quickly! 😜
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) April 1, 2014
As it is, the number, 61, is Bobby Rahal’s age. He hasn’t raced in North American open-wheel racing since 1998 and his last Indianapolis 500 appearance was in 1995, when he finished third behind winner Jacques Villeneuve and Christian Fittipaldi. Villeneuve is making his return to the race for the first time in 19 years in a third Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry.
The team has stated it is unlikely to run a third car for the Indianapolis 500 anyway, and Honda can only likely accommodate one more engine lease anyway beyond its current number of 17 at the Indianapolis 500.
Anyway, that was your morning fun and games. Fun as it would be, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning driver and 2004 winning owner has plenty on his plate with the RLL IndyCar and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship BMW programs, and other activities such as bobsled and the Road Racing Drivers’ Club.