For three years, one of the former race-winning Indy cars from the Rahal Letterman Lanigan stable had been in use at Columbus' popular Center of Science and Industry (COSI) children's museum where little hands learned what made racecars go. Now that same car will be worked over by much more talented and capable hands that will study not only what makes it go – but what makes it go faster, longer and safer.
On Monday, RLL donated one of its former Indy cars to the University of Northwestern Ohio's (UNOH) highly-successful High Performance Motorsports program, which is taught at the University's Lima campus. The program began in 1992 and in 2006 became the largest of its kind in the nation, with a seven-acre, 70,000 sq. ft. complex dedicated to helping students earn degrees in high-performance technology. In addition to its large on-campus facility, UNOH also owns and operates Limaland Motorsports Park, which is a 1/4-mile,high-banked dirt oval that hosts weekly events for stock, modifieds and sprint cars and hosts the World of Outlaws Brad Doty Classic each July.
“We have always had success with developing young racing talent but this gives us an opportunity to help the sport in an entirely different way,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “UNOH has done a fantastic job with their groundbreaking high-performance program and we are pleased to be able to help.”
As part of the university's program curriculum students, along with faculty coaches develop actual racing teams that are made entirely of students, which compete on many of the Midwest's top tracks. The first-year students run stock cars while the second-year program sees the teams build, maintain and drive modified cars. The students have a hand in every facet of the operation including managing the all-important racing budget. The program also has relationships with racing sanctioning bodies such as ARCA, DIRT, NHRA, NASCAR and Grand-Am, and has been eager to introduce its students to the world of open-wheel racing as well.
“Indy Car racing leads the way in the technology of motorsports, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan has generously given us an essential tool we can use to introduce and teach our students about these sophisticated cars,” said UNOH High Performance Motorsports instructor Mike Streicher. “This opportunity will allow out students to be better prepared when they graduate from UNOH and take their skills into the world of open-wheel racing.”