The date was September 1, 1996 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Graham Rahal was 7 years old, and Marco Andretti was 9.
That was the last time the Rahal and Andretti names stood on the same IndyCar podium. Until today.
Back in the first year of the CART/IRL split, at the beginning of the start of the inexorable 20-year-old decline of the sport on the whole, it was Michael Andretti leading home Bobby Rahal in the penultimate round of the PPG IndyCar World Series season.
Today, Graham Rahal has won the MAVTV 500, Round 11 of 16 in the Verizon IndyCar Series season, but Marco Andretti joined him on the podium with third place.
Tony Kanaan, who raced against both their dads in his rookie CART season of 1998 (Bobby Rahal’s final season as a driver), sandwiched them in second.
Andretti’s No. 27 Snapple Honda was well set-up from the start of the weekend, rolling off the truck quickly as he qualified third. In the race, he led 10 times for 31 laps and ultimately ended in the same position.
Andretti’s biggest achilles’ heel during the race, it seemed, was that he was stuck on the wrong line when it came time to go for the win.
“It’s definitely crazy, pack racing’s always like that,” Andretti said post-race. “You’ve got guys that just don’t want to back off, guys going forward, guys going backward, inside, outside. I find it quite fun but it is extremely dangerous, but that’s what we sign up for. We put on a heck of a show for the fans, that’s for sure.
“We were pretty good but sort of shot ourselves in the foot there at the end. I shouldn’t have gone low, I should’ve known Graham (Rahal) was going to do that. I had a full head of steam. If I would’ve went high, I think we could’ve won the race.”
Andretti moved up to sixth in the points after this result.