Rahal Letterman Racing is not

Posted by Iannucci | 1/29/2009 | 10 comments »
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From Mike Harris of the Associated Press.

Rahal Letterman Racing has pulled out of the 2009 IndyCar Series because it cannot find a sponsor to support its program.

RLR becomes the latest racing team to be affected by the reeling economy. The team won the Indianapolis 500 with Buddy Rice in 2004 and brought Danica Patrick to the IndyCar Series.

"At this time Rahal Letterman will not be in the IRL in 2009," team co-owner Bobby Rahal told The Associated Press in an e-mail Thursday.
This is about as surprising as noticing that the sun rose in the East, as RLR like many other teams has been continuing operations largely from sponsorship packages brought by drivers. Who knows how they would have managed the last few years without Danica Patrick, Paul Dana, and Scott Sharp.

Three years ago this organization was highlighted by a three-car IndyCar team. Now? Well, now they manage the Formula BMW series.

Let's recall a happier time in RLR's history. (Note: It's over 50 minutes long.)

<a href="http://www.joost.com/036000k/t/2004-Indianapolis-500-Buddy-Rice">2004 Indianapolis 500 Buddy Rice</a>

UPDATE: Via a press release, Bobby Rahal would like to clarify something.

“As I said in the quote from the story, as of this time we do not have any sponsorship that will allow us to compete in the IRL in 2009, but by no means does that mean that we are giving up. We are continuing to search for sponsorship to run the 2009 season and to run in the Indianapolis 500 and we feel that there is still time for us to put something together that will allow that to happen.”

Which means, if you have some sponsorship they're definitely interested in helping you achieve your dream of being an IndyCar driver. Act now and you'll also receive a complimentary appearance on "The Late Show". Operators are standing by.


  1. Anonymous // January 29, 2009 9:29 AM  

    "Well, now they manage the Formula BMW series."

    To be fair, aren't they also running the factory BMW M3s in the ALMS? Its not like Bobby will just be sitting at home watching Graham race on TV.

  2. Iannucci // January 29, 2009 9:32 AM  

    Yes, absolutely, but...how many cars are scheduled to run ALMS this year? Maybe I'm not up to date, but I can't help but think that series may have some, uh, "significant challenges" this year given the current economic environment.

  3. The SpeedGeek // January 29, 2009 12:12 PM  

    Bad news, obviously. I'm a little disappointed that we're not getting a "Worldwide Pants Special" Dallara this year, but I can understand. Uncle Dave is rich and can do whatever he wants with his money, thanks. Better luck for '10, or maybe we'll still get a 500-only entry.

    Unrelated topic: my view of the comments area on Silent Pagoda is messed up. I can't see the "Submit" button for a big, unmoveable ad for Indy Downforce, so I had to come over here to say something. "Would Jack Arute Hate Like That?" That's a new bracelet that I want marketed through IndyCar.com, right now. I'd buy like 15 of them.

  4. Sean // January 29, 2009 1:34 PM  

    I don't understand why the IRL is doing things to drive out sponsors. Not having a race at Surfer's Paradise I can kind of see because it is very expensive, but hey, pretty much everybody went there this year for a non-points race. But the Brazilian ethanol thing makes no sense. Making that switch in the middle of a recession effectively killed RLR, one of the most loyal IRL sponsors, and Hunter-Reay's career, and he and Buddy Rice were the most talented Americans, while Marco and Danica and Ed Carpenter linger on and on and ooooon. Yeah, the IRL probably saves money on that deal, but other things could be done. Is there any need for Vision Racing? I would agree that it is a good thing if he used it to hire USAC sprint drivers or road racers who really should have rides, but he's been using it for his stepson who's a lot less qualified than a lot of drivers who don't have rides, and Foyt IV, who is even worse.

    Even if Letterman doesn't want to pay himself, surely he has access to companies with money?

    I hope Brazilian ethanol sponsors a car so it's not a complete loss and allows Junqueira to buy a ride somewhere...

  5. redd carr // January 29, 2009 1:45 PM  

    dang. I've been trying to think positive in regard to the upcoming season, but dang.

    no rahal. no letterman. if those dudes can't afford it, it looks sorta bad.

    I don't know much about ALMS, but I sure think they should run with Indy and Indy Lights as much as possible to give the consumer a good weekend bang for their buck.

  6. vitorfan // January 29, 2009 1:59 PM  

    That sucks! What's going to happen to RHR now?

  7. Anonymous // January 29, 2009 9:54 PM  

    Sean, EPIC-ethanol left RLR and IRL on their own. as a result IRL went and found APEX to replace them.

  8. Anonymous // January 30, 2009 6:18 AM  

    Ed Carpenter was a USAC Sprint car driver, in fact the only one with that pedigree in the series.

  9. Sean // January 30, 2009 12:39 PM  

    I did know that Carpenter had that background, but he isn't as good as say, Dave Darland or somebody like that, who would deserve the ride more in my opinion.

    I was wrong about American ethanol dropping its sponsorship after IRL went to Brazilian ethanol, and I apologize for that.

  10. Anonymous // January 31, 2009 11:26 AM  

    This report is now being desputed by RLR saying they are still looking at options that will allow them to run part if not all season My bet RLR will be on the grid Thanks in part to TG