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EPISODE 21: GRAHAM RAHAL

LIFE ON TOUR  

“There are two types of drivers in our world: those who have crashed and those who will crash,” IndyCar driver Graham Rahal told us with a smile. “Racing is all about taking risks and sometimes you just go a little too far.”

Earlier this year, we had the privilege to travel to Indianapolis for the Indy 500 to film Graham Rahal’s Life on Tour. Graham, who has been racing professionally for over 14 years, grew up around the sport as the son of legendary driver Bobby Rahal.

“I got into racing because of my dad,” he explained to us from his home in Zionsville, Indiana. “Growing up, my nickname was ‘The Shadow’. I followed Dad everywhere he went. For me, it was really just all I ever wanted to do. My one goal was to be an IndyCar driver, more than even just racing in general, IndyCar was really it for me.”


At TravisMathew, we absolutely love watching people achieve their dreams. Graham has been competing in the Indy 500 since 2008, when he was just 19 years old.

“The Indy500 is one of the longest-standing sporting events in the world. It’s the ultimate adrenaline rush, and for us, it’s what we all live for,” Graham related. “If you’re an IndyCar driver or even a driver of any other type of racing, the Indy500 is still the dream—it’s the pinnacle. It’s what you want to win! Everybody knows that whoever wins that race, their lives will never be the same.”

The Indy 500 is the world’s largest single-day sporting event with over 350,000 people in attendance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When Graham walked out with his wife Courtney Force (a race car driver herself) and their baby girl Harlan to a stadium filled with manic applause, it was a hallowed moment. All the training, the cardio, the lifting, the teaching your heart to maintain 170 to 180 beats per minute for a three-hour race—this was what it was for.


“Everywhere you look, everywhere—is full of people. People screaming, people excited… If there was ever a moment to feel like a hero, like a superstar in the highest order, it is that moment,” Graham shook his head in wonder. “But, once you get in the car, all of a sudden, this level of calmness runs through you. Because for the first time, maybe all month, it’s just you and the car. The focus is solely on going out there and winning the race. It’s really just you: man, machine, track. The nerves are there, the adrenaline is there, but it’s now just your time to focus.”

Graham started the 200-lap race in the sixth row, third position. From lap 100 to lap 118, Graham held first place before peeling off for a pit stop. Everything was looking great and the crowd wondered—could this be Graham Rahal’s year to win the Indy 500?

Seconds later, Graham’s wheel came off, sending the car spinning across the track before crashing into the wall. Thankfully, Graham was uninjured, but his hopes of Indy 500 victory were dashed.


“Indianapolis is a very strange race, and what I mean by that is you can almost speak of it as this live being,” Graham explained. “And Indianapolis writes its own book. Every single year is a different chapter. And sometimes it feels like she hand-selects the winner. There’s a winner that just doesn’t make a lot of sense at the time, but it does later in life.”

As someone who has spent his life around racing, Graham understands that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. And sometimes, things are just out of your control.

“For me, the positivity that I can keep through it all is that I do think my chapter, my time, will come,” he said with passion. “And I’ve been close, many times. And many times, I’ve wondered, why wasn’t it me? But…2022 is around the corner and we’ll have another shot at it.”