But Graham Rahal’s old man isn’t just a regular racing celebrity. No, that just wouldn’t be enough.
He’s also the owner of the team Graham races for--along with some other notable folks like “Late Night” host David Letterman and Chicago business mogul Mike Lanigan.
If the picture isn’t clear enough, in the world of IndyCar racing, "pressure" and "Rahal" are nearly synonyms.
But Graham Rahal has grown accustomed to it.
He didn’t really have a choice.
The kid whose nickname was “The Shadow,” because he tagged along with his father everywhere, Rahal basically grew up in the spotlight.
When he started racing go-carts at 10 years old, local newspaper reporters hounded him.
Nowadays, he deals with a little more than the local paper man.
Today, he wields a three-page agenda typed in 10-point font to sort all the attention.
“You learn to deal with it,” Rahal said. “Now, I just ignore it. There’s nothing else you can do. You can’t avoid it. It doesn’t matter if I win 20 races in a year, people would be asking, 'When is he going to win his 21st?’ ”
Yes, Rahal can avoid the pressure that comes with his family name, or so he says.
But he can’t avoid the weight that lurks Sunday.
Fidgeting in his seat, Rahal was at a loss when trying to describe the stress that comes with racing in the Indy 500.
“I’m not really sure if I can put it into words,” he said.
But he tried.
And tried to do so in Chicago terms.
After all, his father is a one-time Glen Ellyn native and lives in Lincoln Park. His grandparents and uncle live in the western suburbs. His cousins attended area high schools.
In other words, he’s no stranger to the area.
While Rahal was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, he visits Chicago “pretty frequently.”