From an early age, Graham Rahal displayed unique initiative at a racetrack.
The 29-year-old native of suburban Columbus, Ohio, practically grew up at the nearby Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, where he watched his father, Bobby, race Indy cars.
When he wasn’t playing with his buddies, Graham was rather aggressive when it came to trying to get what he wanted.
“There’s a lot of stories that come to mind, like the time I stole a check out of my mom’s checkbook,” he said recently. “I’m like literally 5 years old. I don’t know how I did this, right? A lot of people nowadays, they’re 30 and they struggle to write a check.”
Young Graham coveted a pair of sunglasses at the track. He came prepared to a track concession stand on one particular day.
“I wrote this check perfect,” he said. “I took it down and bought myself a pair of sunglasses.”
But something was amiss.
“Then this guy comes down to my dad like an hour later and he’s like, ‘Hey, Graham just walked up, he handed us this check, it was for the right amount but it looks like he signed it but it’s in (mom) Debbie’s name. Should he be doing that?’” Graham said. “Dad hit the rev limiter.
“I don’t even know how I figured out where the checkbook was, how to write a check or the amount the sunglasses were, but I made the transaction happen.”
An irate Bobby had his son do the right thing.
“He made me, in front of everybody, go return ‘em, completely embarrassed me. The next day, he goes to leave (home) for Mid-Ohio, I hid in the woods at the house so he couldn’t find me to make me go to the track.”
Graham has won six Verizon IndyCar Series races in his career, including the 2015 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver considers that victory on his home track his most meaningful to date.
The 2018 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio is scheduled for July 29. Tickets are available at midohio.com. Sunglasses are optional.