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Another failed attempt to successfully cross the Big Pond



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Bobby Rahal


Wolf-Cosworth WR1




1978 Canadian GP


Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Peter Revson and of course Mario Andretti being the exceptions to the rule, American drivers rarely make it into F1 proper.

After three years of tussling with Gilles Villeneuve in the Canadian Formula Atlantic championship, Medina, Ohio-born Bobby Rahal took an opportunity with Walter Wolf's F3 team, where some fine performances led to a chance with the Canadian's F1 team. In the end, Rahal's F1 adventure lasted but two North American Grands Prix, competing for a Wolf team already very much on the descend (a fact James Hunt was to find out in 1979...).

A number 21 Wolf? And with the customary '0' strangely taped over by a '1'? This looks like a job unprepared. Which is was, since Rahal crashed his usual WR5 mount in practice for the Canadian GP. This meant the team had to roll out the spare car, which was Scheckter's original WR1 (recognizable by its big gold-coloured roll-bar). 'Spare car' is actually quite an overstatement, since the team had to drag the car out of a museum to make the grid! This was the only time a No.21 WR1 took the field.

The rest of Rahal's story is much better known: now a veteran of more than 250 CART starts, he's a triple Indycar champion and team owner. With his last victory almost four years ago, the 46-year-old has announced this season (1998) will be his last, hoping that his young team mate Bryan Herta will take over the mantle.