Graham Rahal on Making Zionsville His Home and Headquarters
This month, we are pleased to feature IndyCar driver Graham Rahal on our cover. Recently, it was announced that Rahal, president of Graham Rahal Brands, has entered into an agreement with the Zionsville Economic Development Commission to purchase two lots at Creekside Corporate Park where Rahal’s 115,000-square-foot headquarters will be built.
Both Rahal and his wife Courtney live in Zionsville, and Rahal shared with us his excitement to relocate the Graham Rahal Performance, Rahal Ducati Indianapolis, Rahal Paint Protection and the Graham & Courtney Rahal Foundation to the future site in Zionsville that will be across from the headquarters of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL), which is currently under construction and owned by Rahal’s father, Bobby Rahal.
Rahal was gracious to share with Zionsville Monthly his vision and hopes for what this relocation will mean to his family, his brands and to the community of Zionsville.
Getting the Checkered Flag to Relocate
“I’m thrilled that we’ve finally gotten to this point. It’s been a couple of years in the making and working through all the steps to get here,” Rahal shared. “I’ve always been a big fan of this area, and when RLL went into Creekside, I think it really brought a lot of life into the corporate park. It really attracted me to what we could do in that same vicinity.”
Rahal explained that he is still working though some final stages to get the agreements with the town “settled, signed and done” and that he feels like his brands will be a great addition to the town of Zionsville.
“In my opinion, Zionsville is an affluent town that has successful, business-minded folks that appreciate businesses like ours,” Rahal said. “A lot of our clients live in Zionsville and surrounding areas. A lot of our friends live here, I live here, and my mother lives here.”
Becoming a Community Partner
Rahal shared that he doesn’t just want to house his brands within the proposed HQ, he wants to build relationships with the residents and fellow businesses of Zionsville.
“We feel like we can bring a lot to the table,” Rahal said. “Whether it’s the Graham Rahal Performance, Rahal Ducati Indianapolis, Rahal Paint Protection brands, the coffee facility and the bar and grill additions that we are putting together, the members and storage facility or the [Rahal] racing museum that we will have onsite, we feel that these will all be great additions to the town, and we’re really excited about these.”
Rahal shared that although plans are still fluid, he has secured a “great partner” for his proposed coffee shop, which will also be housed in the new facility, and he is excited about the proposed bar and grill amenity that is also under development.
“We are simply trying to grow this culture of cars and coffee or what we call ‘Ducs & Donuts,’” Rahal said. “We love what that brings. It’s not an ‘upscale-only’ deal at all. These are open to everyone. I don’t care if you drive a Fiat or a Ferrari. You are welcome to our events. What I love the most is that it doesn’t matter if you are 3 years old or 80 years old, you can enjoy our community events.”
Rahal continued, “What I enjoy most is seeing folks and families come through just for the love of being together and enjoying cool cars, motorcycles and a cool place to be. And between the showrooms, there will be a coffee shop that will be open to the public who want to come in, sit down and work, enjoy the Wi-Fi or write a novel. It will obviously be racing inspired, but it will be a great space when we have events. We’re really excited about that and think it’s going to be a great part of our facility.”
As also expressed by Bobby Rahal when we spoke with him in a previous article, it is important to the entire Rahal family and organizations to engage with the Zionsville community that they are heavily invested in. The younger Rahal spoke about how his love of automobiles and community events began at a young age spending time with his father and attending events hosted by Bobby.
Performance Vehicle Storage and Premier Event Space
Those who are familiar with the Motor District in Westfield and SILO Auto Club in downtown Indianapolis will be excited about Rahal’s forthcoming storage and social membership offerings that will be available within the new facility in Zionsville.
“You may have a Porsche or a fancy toy that needs somewhere to go in the winter, and we’re fairly centralized to our client base in Carmel as well, so we’re excited to be able to do this here,” Rahal expressed. “We will be able to store 100 cars and motorcycles on top, and we will do this in a vertical capacity so that we will be able to stack 4 high and still maintain a fairly low roof to give it a really clean and sporty look in the interior of the building. If you’re in the bar and grill area, you’ll be able to see the vehicles that are on display. It’s going to be a great event center — maximizing the garage footprint — and like SILO, the event space can be rented to host dinners or whatever.”
The Graham & Courtney Rahal Foundation
As announced, the Graham & Courtney Rahal Foundation will also be housed in the Zionsville HQ, along with Rahal’s corporate offices.
The Graham & Courtney Rahal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization led by Rahal and his wife, former National Hot Rod Association Funny Car driver Courtney Force-Rahal. Rahal initiated the Foundation in 2009 to continue the philanthropic efforts of his former team owner, the late actor Paul Newman.
Each year, the foundation hosts the GCRF Drivers Tournament powered by United Rentals the week leading into the Indianapolis 500, drawing participants from across the country to raise awareness and money for the foundation’s two charitable partners: Turns for Troops / SoldierStrong USA and Colorado State University’s One Cure program.
Supporting numerous nonprofits over the last decade, the GCRF has donated more than $1.4 million to causes close to the Rahal family’s hearts.
“Our mission is to raise money and to give back to two main causes,” Rahal shared. “One is to our veterans. We provide a lot of funds to veterans who need more advanced treatments and therapies for their rehab through our Turns for Troops initiative. Then we have our Vino for Vets fundraiser, which is held in Napa Valley in October, that is capped at 25 couples. It is way too much fun, and we raise a lot of money for our Veterans.”
Rahal’s other philanthropic focus is on the family’s One Cure initiative and on raising funds to support the Losartan Combination Clinical Trial for children with metastatic bone cancer.
“When taken in extreme doses, [Losartan] has been proven to be extremely effective in killing off [the cancerous] cells,” Rahal said. “We are seeing great results, so that’s why we are continuing to fund that. It is important for people to know that our foundation does not pay [foundation] salaries. Courtney and I pay our folks to do the [foundation] work, and 100 percent of what we raise goes back to the charities that we support.”
For more information on the foundation and how you can donate or assist, visit grahamrahal.com/gcrf.
Pushing Through the Final Lap
With all of the proposed amenities and services being announced, one can hardly wait for the start and completion of construction, and no one is more anxious to cross the finish line than Rahal himself.
“I would have loved to have broken ground 6 months ago,” Rahal expressed. “I’m so out of space, and that’s hindering me from being able to hire additional employees because I have nowhere to put any more employees. I literally don’t have office space or workspaces for additional employees. Having said that, I think spring 2023 is likely [to break ground] simply because we’re still working through some stuff with the town. I figure it will be about a 14-month build time, and it may be a good time, as the prices of steel and other building components are coming down or are at least plateauing in some areas, but the sooner the better.”
Rahal concluded, “I want people to understand that I will do the best I can for the people of Zionsville and will do it right. I think people will see the facility and how unbelievably beautiful and state-of-the-art it will be. We, as a family, take a lot of pride in what we do and hold ourselves to a very high standard. I hope that people reading this understand that we’re not a ‘normal’ car dealership that will have cars sitting out on a lot and lit up at night like a Christmas tree. That’s not what we do. We are a boutique, specialty brand, and Ducati is the same. We wouldn’t be coming to Zionsville if we didn’t think these brands are a perfect fit for what’s going on [in Zionsville], and we are excited about being there.”