Photo: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Theodore Racing returns to IndyCar with RLL Racing

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – An iconic name in motorsports returns to the arena starting this weekend at Long Beach, as Theodore Racing – founded by Teddy Yip – will partner with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

The team’s release is below, with a formal unveil of the car to follow later today at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach:

Theodore Racing returns to the Verizon IndyCar Series to contest three rounds of the 2016 season; Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 100th running of the iconic Indianapolis 500.

Teddy Yip’s Theodore Racing will make its return to the IndyCar Series, America’s premier motor racing category, at Long Beach. Following a 31-year absence, the team will partner Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to support full-time driver Graham Rahal who will be joined at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Indy 500 by teammate, Spencer Pigot.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, held on April 17th, is a race Teddy Yip Sr. was instrumental in creating and one where he felt most at home. Teddy Sr. held one of his most flamboyant events at Long Beach harbour, launching his 1981 Formula One and Indy car challengers aboard the Queen Mary ahead of the Grand Prix.

Theodore Racing’s three-race campaign continues for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14 before peaking at the Indy 500 on May 29 where Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Honda will be entered under ‘Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Theodore Racing.’ Graham, who finished as top Honda driver in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series and is considered a contender for the 2016 Indy 500 victory, will display the Theodore Racing logo on both his car and race overalls in homage to the team’s entries of the 1970s and 1980s.

Teddy Sr. entered or sponsored Indy car teams and drivers between 1977 and 1984, achieving an Indy 500 victory with Tom Sneva in 1983. The decision for Theodore Racing’s return to America was taken by Yip’s son Teddy Jr., who has ambitions for his late father’s team to become a permanent fixture in the IndyCar Series paddock. Teddy Jr. revived the Theodore Racing name in 2013 when the team made a victorious return to the Macau F3 Grand Prix, an event the marque has now won a record eight times. 

Teddy Jr., who has also enjoyed success in the A1GP World Cup, Formula One feeder series’ GP2 and GP3 and the Le Mans 24 Hours, commented, “Indy car and American racing was extremely important to my father and in many ways it was his second home. This year’s Indy 500 marks an important anniversary, and it’s fitting that the Theodore name is an active part of the celebrations.

“Partnering with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing makes perfect sense. Bobby knew my father and much like myself, Graham is part of a new generation hoping to continue a legacy and make his own mark in the history books. The IndyCar Series is certainly on the up and many European teams and drivers are now looking across the pond to the series. We’ve achieved some success in Asia and Europe so I’m very excited to be America’s latest import and work with such a professional team and talented driver.”

RLL team founder Bobby Rahal, who celebrates the 30th anniversary of his 1986 Indy 500 victory this year, said “What an honor it is to have Theodore Racing back in Indy car racing and with us at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. We are so appreciative to Teddy Yip Jr. and his staff for entrusting the historic legacy of the Theodore name with our team. I knew his father and while I never actually drove for him, many of the greatest drivers that went on to Formula One, Formula 5000 and other categories, did drive for Teddy Yip Sr. and Theodore Racing.  We are really thrilled to have Teddy Jr. bring Theodore Racing back to North America, and especially for them to have selected our team to do it with.”

THEODORE RACING FACTS

  • Teddy Yip Sr. founded Theodore Racing in 1973, he went on to run 4 x future F1 World Champions – Ayrton Senna, Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Alan Jones
  • Theodore Racing sponsored and entered cars in a myriad of championships including Formula 1, IndyCar, Formula 3, Formula Atlantic and Formula 5000
  • Theodore Racing last competed in an IndyCar race at Portland in 1985
  • Teddy Sr. was instrumental in securing the inaugural Long Beach GP with organizer Chris Pook
  • Teddy Yip Sr. loved American racing and formed close friendships with Bobby Unser and many other legendary drivers. Bobby wrote the foreword in Teddy’s biography ‘From Macau to the World and back’
  • Teddy invited IndyCar drivers including Bobby Rahal to drive in the 1989 Macau Race of Champions
  • Teddy Yip Jr. revived Theodore Racing in 2013, winning on his Macau F3 return and achieving a record eighth victory in 2015 with Felix Rosenqvist
  • Teddy Jr. is passionate about Theodore Racing’s return to IndyCar and intends to grow his partnerships in the coming years
  • Teddy Yip Sr. was not present at Teddy Jr’s birth as he was at the 1982 Indy 500!

Rahal determined to regain winning touch in 2019 IndyCar season

Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher, INDYCAR
INDYCAR
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AUSTIN, Texas – Graham Rahal entered the room with a smile on his face and a chip on his shoulder.

It was IndyCar “Media Day” and Rahal wasn’t happy with the way last season went at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was less happy with the fact some aren’t considering him a serious threat in 2019. He playfully chided with one media outlet for failing to mention his team as one to watch in 2019.

“We use that as motivation to show everybody how we are viewed,” Rahal said. “We are here to win.”

Rahal just turned 30 in January but is entering his 13thseason in big-time Indy car racing. He entered the 2007 Champ Car Series season when he was just 17. He missed his high school prom because he was racing at Houston.

“That was the luckiest day of my life,” Rahal said. “I didn’t have to go to the prom. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Plus, I got my second career podium that weekend.”

Rahal drove to victory in his very first race in the combined IndyCar Series in the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was hailed as the “Poster Boy of Unification” and a future star. What followed was a seven-year drought before he captured his second-career win in a thrilling race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

He won two races in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2017. He was expected to contend for victories and possibly the championship last year but struggled through a disappointing season and finished eighth in the standings.

“I’m looking forward for chance this year,” Rahal said. “Last year was a tough one for me and for the team. I’m looking forward to what my new engineer, Allen McDonald, has done so far. He is an accomplished engineer and brings a different mindset to our program this year from what we had last year. He and (fellow engineer) Eddie Jones are very close friends and that will help us from the standpoint they are on the same page.

“We needed a bit of life brought back to the team.”

Rahal believes his challenges are to get everything in order before the season starts. The team has defined the areas where it was lacking in 2019. The team needed to improve in research and development after starting behind last season.

“I’m excited for what I see, and I know in the end it will all pay off,” Rahal said. “It’s just a matter of when.

“There is a lot to be excited about for us. We are in a great position as a team. We have great sponsorship and that will allow us to push forward and do the things we need to do.”

Rahal believes at 30, he has a long time ahead of him to win races and championships and maybe even the Indianapolis 500. In order to reach those goals, however, Rahal’s team needs to regain the competitive level he displayed prior to last year.

“We’ve been fortunate to win six times,” Rahal said. “A lot of people come into this sport and never win. I fully recognize there is no reason we can’t win a lot. I don’t care what anybody writes, what anybody thinks – I really feel that when it comes to race day, we perform better than 99 percent of the other people out there.

“As a team and for myself, we have to qualify better. If we can qualify better, we’ll be a thorn in everybody’s side. We know the rear of our cars just aren’t good enough. When we need to find that extra tenth or two, it’s just not there but absolutely, we want to win.

“I don’t come here year after year to just drive around. Our sponsors don’t invest in us year after year to not see us win. We feel that. But our cars aren’t good enough and we know that.”

Rahal believes the team has identified the problems with the setup of its car. It has a deep engineering staff but hasn’t had a chance to develop the damper program and other important areas that provide a competition setup.

Takuma Sato, the winner of the 101stIndianapolis 500 when he was with Andretti Autosport, scored the team’s only victory in 2018 with a win in the Portland Grand Prix. The two are back this year and have built a respect for each other.

“He’s a good guy,” Rahal said of Sato. “Other than Helio Castroneves, Takuma is probably the happiest man on the planet. He’s a great guy and fits in well with our organization. We pride ourselves on being a family and he fits in extremely well to that.

“We need to do a better job for him as a team. He won a race last year, but we can both do better to win with both cars.

“The Andretti cars are the best right now and the Penske cars will be good. We have a lot of space to close up on those two teams but hopefully, we can do it.”