DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – NTT IndyCar Series team co-owner Bobby Rahal received the Phil Hill Award on Wednesday night from the Road Racing Drivers Club during the club’s annual dinner before the start of the 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Rahal, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1986, co-owns Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The award is named for Hill, who in 1961 became the first American Formula One champion.
"It means everything to me," Rahal said. "Phil Hill was such an amazing guy, not just as a driver and as an ambassador, but a driver who has won in multiple disciplines. He was a very educated guy who had a lot to say and had a lot to do with things in the automotive world. This award named after him has got to be one of my favorite trophies."
Presented annually since 1993, the award is given to people who provide outstanding service to road racing. Past winners include Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Rick Mears and David Hobbs, last year’s winner who presented Rahal with the trophy Wednesday night.
Rahal’s two-decade racing career included F1, Can-Am, Le Mans/IMSA and CART, in which he won three championships. He also won the 1981 Rolex 24 and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring.
Rahal started 264 Indy car races for five teams (including his own), recording 24 victories and 18 pole positions. After retiring from driving in 1998, he led Jaguar's F1 team, then became the interim boss of CART. In his speech, Rahal recalled team owner Jim Trueman, who died 10 days after Rahal won the Indy 500 nearly 33 years ago.
"He was the guy who really gave me my chance,” Rahal said. “He was with me year after year in some way, shape or form. To win the race and achieve something that he wanted so much really meant a lot to the team and me. We never really got to celebrate the win, but it has a lot of meaning for all of us who were involved with our team at that time.”
Rahal’s INDYCAR team will field his son Graham and Takuma Sato this season, in addition to a third Indy 500 entry for Jordan King.
This weekend at Daytona International Speedway, BMW Team RLL will field two entries in the GT Le Mans class for the Rolex 24, which is set to begin at 2:35 p.m. ET Saturday. Among the team’s drivers are two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi and NTT IndyCar Series rookie Colton Herta.