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.”