He's still active in pro auto racing as a team owner, yet being an auto dealer influences the way former champion driver Bobby Rahal looks at the world. When talking about racing, he often refers to his current experiences as a dealer.
The 1986 Indy 500 winner drove professionally for 17 years. He now owns two race cars on the pro circuit (including one driven by Indy winner Kenny Brack and one co-owned with David Letterman).
He also owns a 9-store dealership group based in Mechanicsburg, PA. That dealer perspective shaped his racing comments at a press conference with Brack at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the Indy 500.
“Honda is audacious in it's own quiet way,” he says of that auto maker's racing and other-world efforts. “They're dedicated to technology and progress. I appreciate that as a Honda dealer.”
Rahal, who's also a Toyota dealer, sees Toyota's and Honda's drive for success as different but achieving the same results on and off the track. “We represent both in our dealership group, and they sell themselves. They're there to be the best. It raises the bar for any company that seeks to compete with them.”
As a racer turned dealer, Rahal thinks there's something to that adage, “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday,” meaning that auto makers' auto racing participation can presumably spur consumer interest in their showroom products.
“It's that,” says Rahal. “It's also quality, reputation, high CSI, reliability. All play a role.”