HomeShowsThe Marty Smith Podcast: Graham Rahal Reflects on His Near-Victory at the 2021 Indy 500 and the Iconic Race’s Significance

The Marty Smith Podcast: Graham Rahal Reflects on His Near-Victory at the 2021 Indy 500 and the Iconic Race’s Significance

by Chris Haney
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

During the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast, IndyCar driver Graham Rahal joined the show to talk about his life, career, and the upcoming Indianapolis 500. While chatting it up about all things Indy 500 in the interview, Rahal opened up about he and his team’s near-victory last year at the Brickyard. Plus, the driver speaks on the significance of the huge race and how it can change a winner’s life.

Rahal was basically born into the IndyCar circuit. His father, Bobby Rahal, earned three IndyCar championships and won the 1986 Indy 500. Bobby has also won the Indianapolis 500 twice as an owner in 2004 and 2020. Racing is engrained in the Rahal family, so it was only natural for Graham to follow in his dad’s footsteps. In fact, the 33-year-old has already raced IndyCars for 15 years. He was the second-youngest driver to ever compete in an IndyCar Series race after he debuted at only 18 years old in 2007.

Obviously, Graham Rahal would love to join his father in becoming an Indy 500 winner. He’s come close on several occasions during his career, including multiple third-place finishes. While talking to the co-hosts of The Marty Smith Podcast, Rahal shared his disappointment in last year’s finish in Indianapolis.

“Last year was so close. You know, we’ve been close before,” Graham Rahal explained on the podcast. “I mean finished in third twice and running up front. Each of the last four or five years we’ve been in the hunt come the end. The end results may not show that.”

“Last year really being viewed from a strategy standpoint, having everybody completely beat, was tough to have a mistake and to not finish when the wheel fell off there for us. You know, we’re just as motivated as ever, if not more than ever,” he added. “And anytime’s a good time to win the Indy 500, but this weekend sounds particularly good.”

Graham Rahal Says Winning the Indy 500 ‘Changes Your Life’

As most race fans know, the Indy 500 is the pinnacle of racing for IndyCar Series drivers. The Marty Smith Podcast hosts spoke about the race’s significance in the sporting world and asked Rahal his thoughts. Host Marty Smith said he thinks “there are five American sporting institutions that transcend their sport.” The podcast host then said they include the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Masters Tournament, Daytona 500, and the Indy 500.

You don’t have to convince Graham Rahal of the importance of the huge race at the Brickyard. He’s seen what winning the Indy 500 has done for his father through the years. Rahal knows taking the checkered flag in Indianapolis is a life-changer.

“That day is all about tradition. That day is all about transcending your sport. You win that day, it changes your world. It changes your life,” Graham Rahal explained to The Marty Smith Podcast hosts. “You know, I tell people all the time, my dad won everything he could win. Won three championships yet they never say, ‘Bobby Rahal, three-time champion.’ They always say, ‘1986 Indy 500 champion.'”

“Even for the greats, Michael Andretti for instance. You know, he’s one of the all-time greatest American drivers that there is, right? He never won the Indy 500 and that gets brought up constantly,” Rahal continued. “I’m sure he’s sick and tired of hearing about that. But this race can change your world. And we’ve been close before, you know that, and hopefully we’ll be able to do it this time around.”

IndyCar driver Graham Rahal talks about that and much more on the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out his entire conversation above, or listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.