Simmons replaced at RLR

Posted by Iannucci | 7/18/2007 | 13 comments »
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Looks like Silly Season is starting early this year.

The timing is confusing considering there is an article in today's Columbus Dispatch discussing how Bobby Rahal has challenged his drivers named Sharp and Simmons to perform better at Mid Ohio this weekend, but several folks have said a TV station in Ohio is reporting that RLR has bounced Jeff Simmons out of his ride.

A quick check of "sources" (and believe me, I'm always surprised to find out My Name Is IRL has sources) says this is in fact true, although who the replacement is and whether or not this is a permanent change have yet to be confirmed.

As reporters are apt to say, this is "developing"...

UPDATE: A second confirmation has been given from a different "source" (although again without the name of a replacement), but there are still no published reports. It would appear if you have experience driving IndyCars, then you might want to send your resume over to RLR this afternoon.

UPDATE 2: This isn't a news update, but it should be noted that beat reporter John Oreovicz mentioned this in an update a few days ago.

After at least four crashes this season, Simmons has reportedly been on shaky ground recently at Rahal Letterman Racing and the near-miss with Matsuura may be the last straw for Bobby Rahal and general manager Scott Roembke. Several drivers are under consideration, including Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron, Alex Gurney and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

UPDATE 3: The braintrust at TrackSide Online (and proud sponsors of My Name Is IRL) are reporting the following:

Persistent rumors say that Jeff Simmons will be replaced in the Rahal Letterman Racing ride by Ryan Hunter-Reay at Mid-Ohio. We haven't gotten this 100% confirmed and the team isn't saying. But, if this is gonna happen, the announcement would have to happen soon, practice starts on Friday, so expect something official early Thursday morning. (MORE from TrackSide Online)

UPDATE 4: Finally, the press release from RLR.


HILLIARD, Ohio (July 19, 2007) – Rahal Letterman Racing today announces that American open-wheel and sportscar racewinner Ryan Hunter-Reay will take over as the driver of the team’s #17 Ethanol-sponsored car in the IndyCar Series, effective immediately.

“We have made important strides in our IndyCar program this year and we feel like this is something that we needed to do to maintain that pattern of improvement and growth,” said RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Jeff stepped into a difficult situation last season and did a lot for our team and our sponsors, but we feel at this time, that this is the right move for the long-term future of Rahal Letterman Racing.”


  1. pressdog // July 18, 2007 12:47 PM  

    huh. seems like a bit of a quick hook to me. Simmons' cars were pigs last year and he's done as well as Sharp this year. Got collected in a couple of wrecks. Get my girl Sarah in that ride.

  2. Jennifer Coomer // July 18, 2007 1:07 PM  

    Two words: Graham Rahal.

  3. Johnny // July 18, 2007 1:42 PM  

    Graham won't get the GP2 or F1 looks he wants in the IRL though. I'd love to see Gurney, an American with a great racing last name in the seat. More high quality domestic talent would definitely help the IRL.

  4. Anonymous // July 18, 2007 1:48 PM  

    rahal sux - maybe if he had better engineers and less junk cars (put some $$ into the team) he would have done better. too much talent to go to waste. simmons has had just as many unfortunate situations this year as a number of drivers and is treated differently for no reason. give the guy a freaking chance.

  5. Anonymous // July 18, 2007 1:53 PM  

    So I guess Bobby would have fired Helio. what a crock.

  6. Puretone Audio // July 18, 2007 4:58 PM  

    Bobby Rahal should be looking himself in the mirror.

    Simmons led at Indy and Texas and had the race strategy derail what would have definitely been Top-5 finishes, to say nothing of a phantom refueling call-in at the Glen.

    This "team" constantly messed up fuel strategy and held the driver(s) accountable.

    this is ridiculous.

    I'm going to make Anthony Fedele look like Barney the Dinosaur if I ever see Rahal at a race.

    Assuming of course that he attends another IRL race for "his team".

  7. Anonymous // July 18, 2007 5:02 PM  

    I haven't seen anything that would suggest that Jeff Simmons should stay in the car. It seemed fairly apparant that if he wasn't out before the end of the year, he'd be gone afterwards.

    Put a rookie in the car, whoever they are can still win Rookie-of-the-Year.

  8. Anonymous // July 19, 2007 4:36 AM

    rahal is an a-hole

  9. Anonymous // July 19, 2007 7:35 AM  

    I was literally standing in pit lane at Indy when word of this began spreading yesterday. Was with a few officials and a reporter, all of whom found the news shocking. I think it's an absolute travesty. Not only was Jeff getting some momentum going, but he was brilliant as a spokesman for his sponsor. The guy was busting his ass and to just get yanked like that mid-season is shameful. Hopefully we'll see him back in a car sooner rather than later.

  10. Jennifer Coomer // July 19, 2007 8:22 AM  

    Sorry for the confusion. I didn't mean I thought Graham would drive for RHL. It just seems me to that this season Bobby has been concentrating more on Graham's career that the team he funds and puts his name on.

  11. Johnny // July 19, 2007 9:35 AM  

    Jennifer: Understood. Graham needs to get on the ball because his F1 window is only like a year or two. When a 22 year old is leading the championship, you need to be doing serious things in between 18-20 to position yourself. Bobby needs to decide whether that or his race teams (he runs an "also ran" Porsche team in ALMS too).

  12. pressdog // July 19, 2007 10:58 AM  

    A tiny car pulls up and 18 clowns wearing RLR jump out ...

  13. Anonymous // July 20, 2007 8:38 PM  

    This should be rather interesting...