Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) will celebrate its 30th anniversary with the start of the 2021 season. The team, which began competing in 1992, will field two cars each in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and GTLM-class of the International Motor Sports Association’s (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year.
The team’s two-car BMW Team RLL lineup in IMSA will open the season on January 30 and attempt to win their third consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona title to kick off the anniversary year while the team’s two-car NTT INDYCAR SERIES lineup of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato will open their season at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 11 where they are also the defending pole and race winners.
In the first year of competition in 1992, Bobby Rahal brought then-named Rahal Hogan Racing its first victory in Round 2 in Phoenix and went on to win another three times in Detroit, New Hampshire and Nazareth to secure Rahal’s third Indy car title and the team’s first. Since then, highlights include wins in the 2004 and 2020 Indianapolis 500 races, with Buddy Rice and Takuma Sato, respectively, and 500-mile wins by Jimmy Vasser (2002) and Graham Rahal (2015) at Auto Club Speedway, among others. BMW Team RLL brought the team GT titles in 2010 and 2011 as well as back-to-back wins in the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring wins in 2011 and 2012 and Petit Le Mans in 2017, among others.
The team name changed from Rahal Hogan Racing in 1996 to Team Rahal when late night television icon David Letterman, who met Rahal after his 1986 Indy 500 win, became a partner. His name was added in 2004 and the team became known as Rahal Letterman Racing. Since 2011, the team has competed as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with the addition of businessman Mike Lanigan as a co-owner.
Between programs in the CART / INDYCAR SERIES, Toyota Atlantic, SCCA, American Le Mans Series, IMSA, GRC and FIA Formula E, the team has earned 54 victories, 65 poles, 215 podium finishes and three series championships (1992, 2010, 2011).
To celebrate the anniversary, RLL has created a commemorative logo that will be present on team equipment and merchandise. The team will hold celebratory events throughout the season and will highlight key moments of their history on their social media channels.
Also in 2021, the team will build a 115,000 sq. ft. facility on 13 acres southeast of the downtown Indianapolis area in Zionsville and will consolidate its existing INDYCAR SERIES operations in Brownsburg, as well as its IMSA operations in Hilliard, Ohio. The new building will feature office and event space as well as automotive R&D and light manufacturing operations to support the dynamic functions of RLL’s racing teams. The new headquarters is expected to be fully operational by early 2022.
Bobby Rahal, Team Co-Owner: “I’ve got to say that when we started out in the fall of 1991, I never imagined that here we would be 30 years later. It has been an interesting 30 years – a lot of ups and a few downs which is part of racing. There were so many great experiences and relationships built over the years. Personally, I have been very fortunate that I have been able to segue from being a driver into being an owner/driver and now just an owner. It has been a lot of work but I have been fortunate over the years to have a loyal support system. Our 30 years is really a story of all the people like Scott Roembke, Tim Cindric, guys like Jim Prescott and Clay Filson, who have been with me through the entire period and many others that contributed to Rahal/ Hogan, Team Rahal, Rahal Letterman Racing and now Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. It’s been a great 30 years and I am very proud of that. There aren’t many people who manage to make it 30 years in this sport, let alone more. And we’re on our way to our 40th year. We have a lot to be excited about and proud of, going forward.”
David Letterman, Team Co-Owner: “In the world of motor sports, there is no one luckier than I am. My association with Bobby, Mike and the entire RLL organization has been a true blessing. Irrespective of the pursuit, this is the team you want. I can’t thank these men and women enough for their hard work, dedication and friendship. Since becoming a part of the organization in 1996, there has never been a moment that I have not been flattered by my association with Bobby Rahal. As a native Hoosier, I could never believe winning twice at Indianapolis and twice at Daytona would be part of my life. Congratulations on 30 years of racing, and many great seasons to come. All credit to the team.”
Michael Lanigan, Team Co-Owner: “I am very proud to have been working with Bobby and David for over 10 years now. They both have the same philosophy as I have regarding the business side as well as their commitment to winning. Our team has grown over the years and the new shop illustrates our commitment to excel.”
About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2021, the team begins its 30th year of competition and will attempt to add to its 29 Indy car wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship. The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 88 podium finishes as well as a second-place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. The team was also the 2020 Michelin Endurance Champions. For 2021, the team will compete for back-to-back Michelin Endurance Championships.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!