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Talk about team speed

6/16/2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Graham Rahal says his earliest childhood memories involve racing - being at the racetrack, following his father's career. But he'll tell you that rooting for Ohio State football is a close second.

"We've always followed (Ohio State). We'd have parties and stuff like that at the house to watch the games. It's been going on forever," said Rahal, a resident of the Columbus suburb of New Albany. "The thing is, around here, everybody does it."

During a visit to the Ohio State University campus as part of his promotional efforts for the Aug. 9 Honda Indy 200 presented by Westfield Insurance at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, he combined the two.  Rahal stopped by the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to meet up with football coach Jim Tressel and guide him through a ride in the IndyCar Series street-legal two-seater.

Tressel, who is 83-19 with one national championship and five Big Ten titles with the Buckeyes, rode the two-seater from his office to the Ohio State University golf course, where he and Rahal exchanged gifts and met with the media.

"We preach team speed here at Ohio State, and today is all about learning about speed," Tressel said. "It's an honor to meet Graham and a tremendous adventure to get in one of these cars. I wouldn't do it at 230 mph though. People always talk about 'what's the toughest sport?' And I was telling Graham that my belief is that the toughest sport is where there might be bodily injury. That's why I think football is a little bit tough, but going 230 mph, crashing into walls, no thanks. You admire people that do extraordinary things like that."

Rahal, who got a tour of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center containing Ohio State's seven Heisman Trophies and countless other awards, was equally impressed with the Tressel's accomplishments.

"I've been a huge Buckeye fan for a long, long time, so getting a chance to meet Coach Tressel and put him in the two-seater has been great," Rahal said. "It's incredible how nice and laid back he is, given that there is a lot of pressure on him. I hope to see him a little bit more often in the future, get to some games, and see more of what he does."

Tressel hopes to see more of the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver in the future as well.

"I've had a bucket list for sports things, and I'm going to add the Indy 500 to my bucket list," he said. "Everyone says, 'you gotta get (to Indy), you gotta get there.' And I'm one of those guys who it seems like I'm always working. But I'm going to get there."

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