April 6 in Motorsports History: Graham Rahal, 19, wins at St. Pete
On April 6, 2008, Graham Rahal made IndyCar history.
After overcoming a spin early in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Rahal passed Ryan Hunter-Reay (who was driving for Rahal’s father, Bobby) to take the lead after a Lap 64 restart and led the final 19 laps through the checkered flag for his first IndyCar victory.
At 19 years, 3 months and 2 days, Rahal became the youngest winner in IndyCar history at the time, breaking a record previously established by Marco Andretti at Sonoma in 2006.
Rahal held on to this title for 11 years, until Colton Herta became the youngest winner in series history by winning IndyCar’s inaugural race at Circuit of The Americas in 2019 at 18 years, 11 months and 25 days of age.
Rahal’s victory is also notable as it was the first victory for Newman/Haas Racing post-reunification and came in his first start in the reunified IndyCar Series.
After competing as a rookie in Champ Car’s final season in 2007, Rahal missed the 2008 IndyCar opener March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after crashing his car in a test (the team lacked parts to fix it).
“It can’t get any sweeter than this,” Rahal told ESPN after the win. “Especially after last week, not racing. Certainly, this makes it a whole lot sweeter.”
Also on this date:
1885: Jules Goux, the winner of the 1913 Indianapolis 500, was born in Valentigney, France. Driving a Peugeot, Goux reportedly drank four bottles of champagne while driving in the race, though that claim is believed to have been exaggerated. Goux died in 1965.
1986: Kevin Cogan won the CART season opener at Phoenix International Raceway. The veteran, who finished second to Bobby Rahal in the Indy 500 a month later, lapped the field in what wound up being his lone victory in the series.
2013: Max Angelelli and his first-year co-driver, Jordan Taylor, had a straightforward win for Wayne Taylor Racing in Grand Am’s Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park. Angelelli took over for Taylor just after halfway, assumed the lead with 43 minutes to go and went on to take the checkered flag by over four seconds over the No. 99 GAINSCO duo of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney.