They’re racing’s burgeoning power couple, but rare is the opportunity when both Graham Rahal and Courtney Force actually are competing against each other.
Luckily, with a pair of Sonoma races on tap for both, the track organized a fun series of challenges to see who’d emerge victorious.
INDYCAR produced a video of the contest above, and the press release from Race Sonoma is below. Rahal was at the NHRA event in Bandimere this weekend, supporting Force.
Motorsports power couple Courtney Force and Graham Rahal are due to wed this fall, but before they say “I do,” Sonoma Raceway put them through their paces with a one-of-a-kind couples’ skills challenge on Wednesday, July 22.
Force, NHRA’s winningest female driver, and Rahal, currently second in Verizon IndyCar Series points, squared off on the drag strip and road course, and in an old-fashioned grape stomp.
First, the couple took to the drag strip to race Traxxas remote controlled cars. Force dominated the best-of-three matchup on the 1/8-mile strip, besting Rahal in all three races.
“This is definitely my comfort zone, so I’m really glad I could beat him out here,” said Force, who pilots the Traxxas Chevy Camaro Funny Car. “It was fun to be out here on the drag strip racing against each other.”
The couple then headed to the Simraceway Performance Driving Center, located near Turn 1 of the road course, where they utilized simulators to pilot Indy cars around the 12-turn Sonoma Raceway road course. Rahal outpaced Force by almost a full lap to take the checkers in the five-lap race.
“I couldn’t let her win this one,” said Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Mi-Jack entry for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “This was a great way for Courtney to understand what it’s like to race on this road course. It’s really challenging, and almost impossible to describe. And, I think we might need to get one of these simulators at home.”
The final challenge came down to an old-fashioned grape stomp in the Wine Country Winner’s Circle, where the drivers slipped off their shoes, rolled up their pants and stomped grapes for three minutes in authentic wooden barrels. Force took the win by collecting the most juice from the grapes in her barrel.
In addition to bragging rights “for as long as they both shall live,” Force also received a magnum of Korbel champagne from the raceway.
“This was really fun,” said Force. “We’re both really competitive, but we’ve never gotten to do something head-to-head like this. It’s neat to do this together and try out each others’ disciplines. And, of course, I’m very glad I won.”
Force and Rahal will both compete at Sonoma Raceway in their respective series later this summer. Force, who beat her father in the final Funny Car round in Sonoma in 2014, will take to the drag strip at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, July 31-Aug. 2.
Rahal, who boasts a best finish of fifth in Sonoma in the Verizon IndyCar Series, returns to wine country, Aug. 28-30, for the series’ season finale at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.