Graham, thanks so much for your time. First off, can you tell us about the big charity event at Dallara coming up on March 9?
GR: Our event on March 9th is going to be great. I attend a local group called Cars and Coffee in Indianapolis on Saturdays. They’re a large group of car and racing fans with big hearts. They were invited to tour the Dallara Indycar Factory and decided to turn the tour into an event to benefit my foundation, The Graham Rahal Foundation. The event will be from 11-5 on March 9th with tours of the Dallara facility, two seater rides, iRacing simulators, an autograph session and more.
With the Graham Rahal Foundation involved, this might be a good time to tell fans a bit more about just what it does. Who does your foundation seek to help, and was there a reason your specially chose those causes?
GR: The Graham Rahal Foundation was started in 2009 after my boss, Paul Newman, passed away. Paul was such a huge advocate for giving back to others and I wanted to continue that even after his passing. He inspired me to be a better person and to never take life for granted. GRF raises money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Paul’s foundation, SeriousFun Networks. Donations at the event will be taken to help us raise money for GRF, which will allow us to give back to these two amazing groups. Through various events, we have raised over $200,000 and helped many children in need. It’s a great thing to be part of.
This isn't your first time racing with your dad, but a lot of fans are definitely looking forward to seeing how your father-son duo does over the rigors of the season. In your opinion, what are the biggest benefits to being a part of his team?
GR: The biggest benefit is the commitment and the at ease feeling that I have from within right now. This group is top notch, they want to win, the commitment is superb, and I think we are going to have a great few years together.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was extremely fast last season, grabbing a couple of podiums and narrowly missing out on winning the Indy 500. With bringing veteran engineer Eddie Jones on the offseason, what are the main goals to improve upon last year?
GR: Eddie is certainly a great addition to our team. I love Eddie's mentality and his work ethic. His approach to our team and the sport is exactly what you like to see with an engineer, cool calm and collected while always searching for every advantage possible. Eddie mixed with my engineer Gerry [Hughes] will be a great combination. Certainly excited to have him with James.
You've got a new teammate this year in James Jakes. How much have you hung out with him before this season, and what do you look for in a teammate?
GR: James is a great guy. He and I have really clicked, something I can't say I've had much in the past. It's nice we share a lot of the same interests, and I think that will help us both on and off the track. I am excited to have him with us, and I think people will see a whole different James with this team than what they have before!
This is your 6th year in IndyCar since the merger. Mentally, how is your preparation and attitude going into the season compared to previous years?
GR: I think I am much more at ease this year. I feel quietly confident that this team can surprise some people. I have always been someone that was concerned with what was going on when I wasn't watching, but here I know everything that is happening is happening so we can win. There are zero doubts in my mind we have put together a great group of people here at RLLR.
Aside from the obvious answer of Indianapolis, is there another race on this year's schedule you have circled in red you're really looking forward to this year?
GR: I am looking forward to Houston, St. Pete of course, Mid Ohio and really everywhere we go. Every track presents a different challenge and that's what I love about indycar racing!
For more information, follow the Graham Rahal Foundation on Twitter, and also remember to follow Indy Cars and Coffee. Thanks to Graham for his time, and see you for a great cause on March 9!
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