Monday, August 3, 2015

A Rahal of hope

You probably missed this yesterday, mainly because it's IndyCar and, except for one day out of 365, IndyCar would be a good place to take it on the lam if you were on the FBI's Most Wanted list. Nobody's gonna look for you there because nobody knows it exists, except for the day of the Indianapolis 500.

(And, OK, yes, that's an exaggeration. But not a really huge one).

Anyway ... IndyCar staged a race at Mid-Ohio  yesterday, and the local guy won. Graham Rahal, a son of the Buckeye state through and through, came from the seventh row to take the checkers on Mid-Ohio fabled road course, and now there are two races left in the IndyCar season and he's just nine points back of frontrunner Juan Pablo Montoya in the title chase.

Nothing whatever against Juan Pablo, who would certainly be a worthy champion. But don't think everyone in IndyCar doesn't have their fingers and toes and perhaps other appendages crossed hoping Graham catches him and claims the title.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, would give the sport a bigger charge, because IndyCar needs an American star and Graham Rahal is that potential star. He's personable, he's funny, the cameras love him and he loves them back. The son of a racing legend (Bobby), he's engaged to the daughter of another racing legend (Courtney Force, drag racer and progeny of NHRA Funny Car icon John Force), He's even got the right sponsor (Steak and Shake). What's more American than cheeseburgers and milkshakes?

If he won, and IndyCar marketed him right (always a big if), he'd likely be the American star the sport has allegedly been missing since A.J. and Mario and Mears hung up the driving suits.

 IndyCar tried to make Danica Patrick that star, but she didn't win and frankly didn't have the personality for it. And IndyCar's other American with pedigree and star potential, Marco Andretti, doesn't have the personality for it, either. Nothing whatever against him, but the spotlight's just not his natural element. He's an introvert like his grandfather, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, his father.

So, yeah, Graham Rahal is the One. If in fact there is a One who can lift IndyCar into the public consciousness again in an era when the public consciousness has so many competing forces tugging at it.

Better a One than no one, though.


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