If one is a race fan and the sound of this last name sounds familiar, it's because this sound ... Rayhall/Rahal/etc., no matter how it's spelled, is the sound of winning. This sound has an additional historic significance at one of California's racing treasures, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS). Bobby Rahal had won more races at MRLS as a ChampCar driver, then team owner, and ALMS sports car team owner (all combined) than anyone else in the history of the storied race track, and since September 2003 his name is linked to the facility in perpetuity. The challenging section of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from the exit of Turn 6 up the hill and through the Turn 7 kink to the entrance of the Corkscrew was named the "Rahal Straight," honoring one of the true greats of this historic venue. Last weekend had this familiar sound winning yet again, but this sound is not spelled like the name of the back uphill straight at MRLS. Sean Rayhall shares much of the same DNA from Lebanon as the other, more famous Rahal sounding/spelling family, but much more importantly, shares the ways of winning domination at MRLS. First, by posting a P1 in qualifications for the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda two race weekend. Then, by winning both Friday's Round 3 and Saturday's Round 4 of this 2013 Mazda ladder series season.
"Qualifications went really well - for the Comprent Motor Sports Machine," Sean Rayhall said. "The Robert Talbott No. 14 got the pole for both races so we are really excited about that. Me and Mike (Brandon - engineer) worked really hard these past few nights to get the perfect set up and we made a lot of changes. But it ended up being the right way to go!"
At the end of Round 4 when asked about the weekend, the 18-year-old Sean Rayhall said, "We had a little competition on the start of the race I guess but I am really happy to come away with Robert Talbott winning both these races. This is an awesome event and it's awesome to be here at Laguna with everyone and to come away with two poles and two wins for Robert Talbott, Comprent Motor Sports and Racing Radios. I really have to thank everyone behind me in my program for giving me a chance to do this." When pressed about the competition at the start of Round 4, Sean shared, "Me and Ryan Booth had some hard side to side racing [at the start] in the second race. Even a bit of contact going into [turn] two between us, but after that it was clear sailing!"
In a post race question laden conversation with Sean Rayhall, it was discovered that this winning attitude at MRLS was developed quite recently, in that Sean first drove this track "a month ago in a SCCA event actually driving a spec racer. We broke the track record by a second and had a ton of fun learning the track with 3 wins."
What age did you discover that you wished to become a race car driver and what was your first venture in driving competitively (Karts? Sports cars?)?
"I started karts at 7 and wanted to be a race car driver since then. Moved to cars at 12 where I broke the record for youngest driver to win an open wheel race in the states."
Besides the infamous Corkscrew ... what other section of the track do you find challenging? And, Why?
"At Mazda Raceway besides the Corkscrew ... turn 6 [going into the "Rahal Straight" section] and turn 9 ["Rainey Curve"] are interesting turns because of the high speed and elevation changes involved which take a fine setup to handle correctly in those areas."
After Rounds 3 and 4 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, it now can be said of this young, new Rayhall on the motorsports racing scene, the Rahal that has a winning legacy connection with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca isn't just named Bobby ... or Graham (found a P3 finish in Star Mazda 2005 - ?) ... but also Sean with the last name sounding the same but spelled Rayhall!
With continued dominate success, they may have to name the currently unnamed Turn 6, going into the "Rahal Straight", "Rayhall Curve" ... Y? what the L! (the two missing letters from the name of the next section), just a thought.