multi-car ranks when
it added a second,
part-time car for Mike
Groff in 1993, but it
took several seasons
and an assortment of
to reshape the team
back into a winner.
Bryan Herta (ABOVE)
helped usher in
the beginnings of a
turnaround when he
arrived in ’ 96, and he
put the team back in
victory lane for the first
time in six years with
the first of his two wins
at Laguna Seca in ’98.
t’s a scenario familiar to everyone who
followed the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series
season. Multi-car programs from Penske
and Ganassi, an Andretti hovering around
near the front, and a Rahal wading into
battle all alone.
The difference is that this was 1992.
And it was Bobby Rahal, father of 2015
title contender Graham, who triumphed
in the championship fight. It’s a feat no
driver from a single-car CART or IndyCar
team has managed to emulate since.
Of course, the landscape was a little
different then. The prospect of a team
running four full-time entries was still on
the distant horizon, and while it wasn’t
uncommon for someone to turn up with
a large fleet for Indy – looking in your
direction, Dick Simon – the term
“multi-car” usually meant...two.
Bobby was embarking upon his
first season as an owner/driver with
Rahal-Hogan Racing that year and admits
that going it alone was partly through
necessity. Yet he never doubted that
he could be competitive.
“It was not unusual to have single-car
teams, and it was highly unusual to have
more than two,” he says. “My whole
career with Truesports was as a single-car
team, and I’d won the 1986 and ’ 87 titles
that way, so frankly it seemed kind of
natural. It didn’t feel like a disadvantage.”
That said, the final standings from the
1992 season forecast a future in which
successful one-car teams would become
the exception, rather than the norm. Only
one other solo full-timer – John Andretti –
finished in the top 10. And indeed, the
following year, Rahal-Hogan began to field
a second car of its own for Mike Groff, and
was running two cars full-time by ’94.
“That was me thinking as a team
owner,” says Rahal. “Two times the chance
to win! There were good parts to having
two cars, and not so good. Were we as
successful during those years? No. But
you could claim other reasons for that.
“Being a driver in a one-car team like
Truesport…in 1986 we won six races, and
I think we only had maybe 15 races that
year. In 1987, I won four. And that was
generally against multi-car teams. So I liked
having the one car. I liked being the focus.
And I felt that having that 100 percent
focus was behind us being successful.”
Rahal was flying solo in 1992, but that didn’t
stop him from earning four wins and beating
Michael Andretti to the championship - again.
100 percent focus...
Bobby Rahal was
heading into his first
season as an owner/
driver in 1992. He
ended the year
with his third
CART drivers’ title.
later, the sport is still
waiting for another
single-car team to
win a championship.
Signing off: Rahal lowered the curtains on the
driving chapter of his career at the 1998
CART season-finale in Fontana, Calif.
WHO bobby RAhAl
WHERE noRth AmERicA (And suRfERs pARAdisE)
WHEN 1992 indy cAR WoRld sERiEs