After breaking through with two wins, six podiums and a fourth-place finish in the season standings – both career bests – in 2015, Graham Rahal was poised for an even better season in 2016.
At least that was the plan and hope.
But as the Verizon IndyCar Series comes to a conclusion in Sunday’s season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, the plan will likely come up short.
Rahal enters this weekend’s action at Sonoma Raceway seventh in the standings. Even with double points being awarded in the race, Rahal will still fall short of his goal of winning the championship.
Yet there’s an interesting twist: If he has a strong run in Sunday’s race, and several drivers currently ahead of him in the standings falter, Rahal could still finish the year as high as third in the points.
Admittedly, that’s if everything comes together well. But at the same time, Rahal must do significantly better at Sonoma than he did in the previous race, also on a road course, at Watkins Glen, where he finished a disappointing and season-worst 21st after contact.
That’s quite the contrast from the race before Watkins Glen, when Rahal won the weather-suspended race at Texas, his first victory of the season.
Now with the championship battle lost, Rahal’s plan turns to winning the season finale and trying to turn what right now looks like a fair season finish to a strong finish in the standings if everything goes right.
“I am excited to get to Sonoma Raceway and just try to get another win this year,” Rahal said. “We need it, we want it and I think we can get it. We have nothing to lose, really.
“I think we should be very strong, but based on testing I think a lot of teams will be strong. Then again, when you show up for the race weekend, the cream rises to the top and I think we are in that group.
“My guys have been very focused amidst this busy, difficult season and I think we can get rewarded with a great result this weekend. I do not want to pressure ourselves, but I think we certainly deserve to be a top-five car at the end of the season.”
Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”.
At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.
Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California.
Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.
“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”
805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”
Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life.
The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general.
“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said. “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”
While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself.
“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”
Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.
Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg.
“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle.
“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”
The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective.
“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.
“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”