I asked IndyCar fans to share their best interaction with the drivers of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy. We'll be sharing the best of those stories over the remainder of the season. Today's story is from fan Rick Bell:
Growing up, I was never much of a Rahal fan. Back in the CART days, I was an Andretti fan, and of course there was a bit of a divide among fans between the two. So when Graham Rahal came into IndyCar, I wasn't particularly a fan of his--I guess you can chalk it up to old loyalties dying hard.
However, I’ve been able to make it to Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Mid-Ohio the last few years, and every time I've interacted with Graham, he's been absolutely great. Even in the middle of his rough patches this season, he took the time to talk racing and football when I saw him in the paddock. He seemed genuinely happy to chat with fans. At Milwaukee this year, he signed an autograph for my young nephew--who you can believe wanted a Graham Rahal souvenir before we left!
I think the best story, I have, however, is two years ago at Indianapolis, in the middle of the qualifying weekend, he spent a good 10 minutes joking and talking about the Ohio State Buckeyes with a group of us. There wasn't any pretentiousness, or anything else but a kid talking football with a group of fellow guys. That doesn't sound like a huge moment or anything, but we talked about that the whole way home, and last year a bunch of the guys at our campsite were wearing Rahal colors. No, he didn’t buy me a new truck or put my kid through college, but he did seem like a guy I could sit down in a sports bar and watch a game with, and I think that’s important, too, isn’t it? I guess it's true what they say--sometimes, it's the little things that matter! I know this has not been the season Graham wanted, but this old Andretti fan can't help but pull for the kid now.