104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 From the Track NTT IndyCar Series

Drivers looking to forge their own legacy at 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500

Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo

Every driver wants to leave their mark on the racing world. For most drivers, their names are relatively unknown. But for a select group of drivers, their names are already synonymous with racing. With names such as Andretti and Rahal, competing in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series is far more difficult than just 20 years ago, let alone 50 years ago back when Mario Andretti won his only Indy 500 in 1969.

For second generation driver Graham Rahal, his mindset of racing has evolved over his career. “When you’re younger, you just don’t really think through it all. The opportunity comes, and you come have fun and don’t win” said Rahal. “Then you’re thinking ‘oh well maybe next year’ but you don’t know. You could be in Fernando’s [Alonso] position or in anybody’s position and not make it. It’s not easy, it’s not like it used to be.”

Growing up in the footsteps of an Indy 500 champion isn’t easy, but the legacy is both a blessing and a curse. Having the Rahal name makes it easier to be noticed and be able to compete but living up to the name can prove difficult.

“I’d like my legacy to be to win more races, more championships, and more Indy 500’s than my dad. But in all honesty, I don’t think that I’ll get there” mentioned Rahal. “I’m 30 years old, obviously my dad didn’t start racing Indy cars until he was 29. So hopefully we can go and win and have a great career.”

For third generation driver Marco Andretti, the struggles are even harder considering his grandfather, Mario Andretti, is arguably the most recognizable name in the history of racing. Mario currently ranks second in all-time wins with 52 and first in all-time poles with 67. While Marco’s father, Michael Andretti, is fourth in all-time wins with 42. Given the incredible success of the Andretti name, it’s no wonder Marco wants to leave his legacy on the track.

“It’d be cool to retire with more than one Indy 500 win, because that’s something that neither of them [grandfather Mario & father Michael] have done. Obviously it would be nice to get one first, I’m not being greedy, but I think that’s a decent goal and we have a shot at doing that” said Marco. “I’m at a point now where 15 dominant races have eluded me, so the win column isn’t even close to where I want it to be. I think if we’re able to win the biggest race in the world a couple times would be good.”

But winning isn’t everything. For Rahal, while winning is important, it’s the other things that matter. “If I could do anything, it would be to have a lasting imprint on this sport and try to help the sport move forward” said Rahal. “Obviously that includes winning and so that’s a big part of this. Winning 500’s is important. The foundation work that we do that’s extremely important to me. There’s a lot of ways that you can leave a legacy, that are in many ways more important than winning races themselves.”

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.