Start Your Engines!

The Grand Prix revs up and races into town.

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While most kids his age are celebrating high-school graduations this time of year, 18-year-old Graham Rahal will be chasing his first Champ Car World Series checkered flag at today’s Grand Prix of Cleveland. Yet, despite his age, the Columbus-based driver says he isn’t intimidated by the legends who’ll rev-up alongside him. “Competing against them is just the next step for me,” he says. “You can’t be scared of them. You have to go out there and beat them.”

Rahal -- the son of racing giant Bobby Rahal, who won his first professional race at the 1982 Grand Prix -- ranks as the top American in Champ Car point standings. He became the youngest racer in league history to notch a podium finish when he snagged second place at a Houston race in April. He hopes to add “youngest driver to win the Cleveland race” to his résumé at today’s 26th-annual outing. “Winning it would be an extremely special experience for my family,” he says. Yet, unlike some father-son racing combos, Rahal says his famous dad isn’t the bossy type. “He tends to let me go through challenges on my own and see where things lead me,” he says. “But if there’s a problem, he’s the first person to step in and help out.”
Sun., June 24, 1 p.m.

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