A career with racers: Drivers on David Letterman’s Late Night, Late Show (VIDEO)


There haven’t been too many constants in racing between 1982 and 2015.

But one of them is that drivers from any type of series have, at some point or another, appeared on David Letterman’s show.

Whether it was “Late Night” on NBC in the 1980s or from 1993 onwards on the “Late Show” on CBS, Letterman’s show was a staple for drivers – oftentimes those who won the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar series championship, whatever the iteration.

The impetus for this is that Letterman is a native Hoosier, a lifelong open-wheel racing fan whose passion for the sport also has had a business aspect. Since 1996, Letterman has been a co-owner in what is now Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, as he purchased a small share of what was then Team Rahal that year.

For one brief shining moment, Letterman was actually an in-race reporter during the Indianapolis 500. It was in 1971, and he interviewed Mario Andretti. That clip is below.

Several years ago, IndyCar put together a series of videos from a rare interview with Letterman. Those are linked here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

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Ahead of his final show tonight, we ran the gamut in looking through the archives on YouTube and found a bevy of clips of drivers on Letterman’s show, from the 1980s through to just last week.

Here they are, for your viewing pleasure:

2015: Graham Rahal finishes second at Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which means more free milkshakes from sponsor Steak ‘n Shake: 

2015: Graham Rahal finishes second at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, which marked the debut of free milkshakes from sponsor Steak ‘n Shake: 

2014: IndyCar champion Will Power on surviving the earthquake at Sonoma:

2014: Former Rahal driver Ryan Hunter-Reay after his dramatic win in the Indianapolis 500:

2014: Letterman’s “Todd the Intern” at Indy 500 Carb Day

2014: Two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi and the doctor who saved his life (TOP) and his ironman inspiration (BOTTOM):

2013: Scott Dixon after his third IndyCar championship (2003, 2008):

2013: Tony Kanaan on his elusive first Indianapolis 500 win:

2012: Sebastian Vettel on F1 in North America, post-Canadian Grand Prix:

2011: The late Dan Wheldon after his dramatic second Indianapolis 500 win:

2010: Dario Franchitti after his second of three Indianapolis 500 wins (2007, 2012);banner ad across video:

2006: Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Newman after the pair’s third straight Champ Car title (2004, 2005 and also 2007):

2005: Juan Pablo Montoya in his last full season in F1, driving for McLaren:

1998: Dale Earnhardt does “Top 10 list” after winning his elusive first Daytona 500

1996: F1 World Champion Damon Hill after his first and only World Championship:

1995: Jeff Gordon, the year he won his first NASCAR championship

1989: 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1978 F1 World Champion Mario Andretti (Mario starts at 24:00)

1988: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. (clip starts at 19:37)

1987: Bobby Rahal (clip starts at Christmas sleigh ride at 23:44, yes, really)

1986: Bobby Rahal after Indianapolis 500 win the same year (clip starts at 19:48)

1986: 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan (Danny starts at 26:26)

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.