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RLL successfully punks the racing world with “Bobby Rahal returning” PR

Apr 1, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

Rahal Getty Images

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has been in the news a lot this year, primarily due to its new commercial partner of the National Guard, and new (old) second driver Oriol Servia on a part-time basis along with Graham Rahal.

Then they had a transporter fire on the way to St. Petersburg for the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener, needed to turn around and head back for a new one, and Graham Rahal successfully threw down in practice on Friday. He ended 14th in the race, which was an unrepresentative result given a monster start from 21st up to 10th.

And then today happened… and the racing world got Rahal-Rolled.

From a team press release:

Although the 1998 season was billed as “Rahal’s Last Ride,” 1986 Indi­anapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy car cham­pion Bobby Rahal has decided to come out of retire­ment to partic­i­pate in the 98th running of the Indi­anapolis 500. Details of the spon­sor­ship for the No. 61 entry, to be fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, will be unveiled in the near future.

Funny, but it ain’t happening. It was just an April Fools’ joke.

That’s not to say people weren’t tweeting about it when it happened, including former INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. Here are some tweets that came in after that announcement.

This from Rahal’s former competitor and another team owner, Jimmy Vasser.

This was Porsche factory sports car driver Patrick Long’s reaction.

Veteran race reporter John Kernan tweeted this out, and Florida-based reporter Brant James said he read through most of the press release.

Fans wanted in, too.

Even Graham Rahal tweeted about it… before giving away the joke at the end with a smiley face.

As it is, the number, 61, is Bobby Rahal’s age. He hasn’t raced in North American open-wheel racing since 1998 and his last Indianapolis 500 appearance was in 1995, when he finished third behind winner Jacques Villeneuve and Christian Fittipaldi. Villeneuve is making his return to the race for the first time in 19 years in a third Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry.

The team has stated it is unlikely to run a third car for the Indianapolis 500 anyway, and Honda can only likely accommodate one more engine lease anyway beyond its current number of 17 at the Indianapolis 500.

Anyway, that was your morning fun and games. Fun as it would be, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning driver and 2004 winning owner has plenty on his plate with the RLL IndyCar and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship BMW programs, and other activities such as bobsled and the Road Racing Drivers’ Club.

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