LONG BEACH, California – Quack. Quack.
No stranger to showing his love for sports in combination with his passion for racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Graham Rahal has done it again, this time with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
The 28-year-old Ohio native spent this morning giving pit crew instructions to Wild Wing, the mascot for the 2007 Stanley Cup champions. Attempting to show his talents as a tire changer, Wild Wing put together a promising effort, but the mascot was more intrigued with the complexity of the steering wheel for Rahal’s No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Honda.
Wild Wing visited the paddock area for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as part of a “Paint it Orange” theme before the Ducks take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Rahal teamed with Honda to also unveil a unique livery design. A combination of the Ducks’ colors – orange, gold, silver and black – were put on one of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing show cars that will be on display at the Honda Center Portico through Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Kings.
Rahal said the show car idea came up in discussion while he was attending the Honda Classic PGA tournament six weeks ago in Florida.
“I knew it was a big game with the Blackhawks, so you’re always going to get a good crowd with those two teams and I really just wanted to find a way to maximize Honda, the Honda Center and what we are doing here (in Long Beach).
“We came up with a livery, wrapped up our show car from back home and brought it out here. I think fans will have a lot of fun with it.
“We’ve taken an Indy car out (to a Ducks game) before in 2013, but it was put out basically in the parking lot. This time I wanted it to be front and center, so I met with the CEO of the Honda Center and the Honda Classic as well, and he said, ‘Yeah, whatever we can do. Let’s talk.’ Luckily, it worked out.
“Hopefully fans can go see it and learn about the grand prix, learn about Honda, INDYCAR … our team in particular, but anything we can do to promote it is always good.”
Rahal has a close tie to the Ducks since they are the favorite hockey team of his wife, drag racer Courtney Force. Even though he has love for his home team from Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets, being a Ducks fan is fun for the couple. Since the two franchises are in different conference, they won’t meet in the upcoming playoffs unless it is for the Stanley Cup.
“I would say I’m a Ducks fan as well,” Rahal said. “One of my good buddies plays out here, Jared Boll (right winger for the Ducks), so it’s fun to come out.”
Never far away from a home game, Rahal was looking forward to attending tonight’s game with his wife, friends and race team.
“I go to a lot of Ducks games, actually,” he said. “Well, I used to go to more when I had more time off. But we don’t live too far from there, only about 15 or 20 minutes, depending on traffic. So we go quite a bit, so it’s cool that Courtney will be there and some of my other friends, my team.”
After the game, it will be time to fully focus on Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach activities that begin with Friday’s opening practice at 1 p.m. ET, featuring a live video stream on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. The day’s second practice airs live on NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET.
Saturday’s practice starts at 1:45 p.m. ET (RaceControl.IndyCar.com), ahead of Verizon P1 Award qualifying at 6:30 p.m. (streaming live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, tape delay at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN).
Sunday’s 85-lap race on the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit airs live at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Ticket information is available at gplb.com.