Theodore focusing on RLL partnership first before further expansion

Photo: IndyCar

Theodore Racing paired the past with its future when announcing its partnership with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing this past weekend at Long Beach.

Both team principal Teddy Yip Jr., son of Teddy Sr. who founded the team in 1973, and partner and past Theodore Racing driver David Kennedy are keen on seeing the team’s name and presence expand within INDYCAR, now that the announcement was made over the weekend to adorn Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Honda.

“I’ve been wanting to get involved in North American motorsport since I got started,” Yip told NBC Sports in Long Beach.

“With the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, the anniversary of Bobby’s win there, it was just the perfect time.”

The aforementioned 30-year anniversary is Bobby Rahal’s 1986 win in the ‘500.

Rahal, whose career included a stint in Europe in the 1970s as well as two Grand Prix appearances in 1978, was a contemporary of Kennedy’s – the Irishman who made it to F1 in 1980.

Kennedy reflected on the relationship between the two of them.

“Bobby is a direct contemporary of mine, as we cut our teeth together in Europe,” Kennedy told NBC Sports. “We were both immigrants in motorsport. We got on really well even though we were passionately racing against each other! Bobby came to see me and a colleague of mine about 15 years ago in Ireland. And we’ve followed each other since.”

Rahal wound up writing the foreword to Teddy’s biography, “From Macau to the world and back.”

Both Yip and Kennedy hinted that a further expansion of the relationship beyond the logos and appearance during the month of May with RLL likely would be IndyCar-focused first, rather than perhaps following Trevor Carlin’s lead in doing an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires or other Mazda Road to Indy program.

“Not so much,” Kennedy said about the MRTI prospect when asked. “Where we are is where we want to be.

“If we grow it with Bobby, there’s no reason it can’t become a full technical partnership.”

Yip added, “This is a toe in the water. I won’t rule out anything; I’m exploring all options.”

Theodore Racing, though, does have a strong pedigree of talent that has come through its ranks.

Four future World Champions – Ayrton Senna, Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg and Mika Hakkinen – drove for the team.

In recent years, Felix Rosenqvist and Alex Lynn have won for the team at the legendary Macau Grand Prix.

Yip and Kennedy, who’ve also run the Status GP team in GP2 and GP3 (Yip as team principal, Kennedy as a shareholder in partnership with Mark Gallagher and others), have seen success with that team in those championships as well. Status operated the A1 Team Ireland team when Adam Carroll won the 2008-2009 A1 Grand Prix title.

So the pedigree is certainly there and for Yip, who’s 33, racing has been a passion almost from the start.

“I couldn’t tell you how old I was, but probably one of my earliest memories, just being a little kid running around the garage at the house in Macau prior to the Grand Prix,” he said. “My dad used to prepare the cars at the house and drive them down to pit lane. I was just there, running around and getting (in) the way. That’s a fond memory.”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.