Hughes Named Head of Development for IndyCar Program; Veterans Fife and Davis Join RLL

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 23, 2013) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced three key personnel appoint­ments today.

Race engi­neer Gerry Hughes, who joined the team March 2011 as race engi­neer, has been named Head of Devel­op­ment for the IZOD IndyCar Series program.  Neil Fife, who was the race engi­neer for the team’s most recent win at Watkins Glen in 2008 by Ryan Hunter-Reay, will become Graham Rahal’s engi­neer for the remainder of the season and Mitch Davis has joined the team as crew chief, respon­sible for prepa­ra­tion of both Rahal and James Jakes’ entries.

I’m really pleased about these addi­tions of personnel and roles,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan.  “I want to thank Gerry for his hard work and efforts over the past year and a half as race engi­neer and I’m grateful that he has taken on the new role as head of devel­op­ment to ensure our success in the future. The last Indy car race we won in 2008 with Ryan Hunter-Reay was with Neil at the helm as race engi­neer so it’s great to have him back.  I’m confi­dent that he and Graham will work well together and we can have a successful last third of the season. Finally, having Mitch join the team is the result of a courtship of many, many years. Scott Roembke was always a big believer in Mitch, as I was, but we were never quite able to put it all together to bring him onboard before but thank­fully we were able to do that now. He brings a wealth of expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge with him and will ensure that the cars are put on the race track according to spec­i­fi­ca­tion. These changes will be a big plus for us going forward.”

Most recently, Fife was race engi­neer for Sebastien Bour­dais at Dragon Racing and Davis was team manager for Chip Ganassi Racing’s satel­lite Indy car program.

I am very pleased to have the oppor­tu­nity to work with Graham and also work with old friends at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said Neil Fife, who will be the race engi­neer for the No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry for the remainder of the season.  “Graham is one of the young, talented drivers that make watching the IndyCar Series exciting.  Bobby has always been committed to running at the highest levels of racing and you can see that in each of his teams and their compet­i­tive efforts.  It is truly a chal­lenging and compet­i­tive time in the IndyCar Series this year and together I think we can elevate the success of Graham and the team.”

What a great oppor­tu­nity this is for me to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” added Mitch Davis, who will become crew chief for RLL’s Indy car program begin­ning Wednesday.  “I have raced against Bobby my whole career and also raced along­side Graham. One of my life­time goals was to work with (former RLL COO) Scott Roembke again after we first worked together in 1990 and 1991 at Patrick Racing. We lost Scott last year but this is a great oppor­tu­nity for me with RLL, Graham and the young talent Bobby has put together with the drivers and crew.”

The IZOD IndyCar Series season resumes August 2 – 4 with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be tele­vised live at 3 p.m. ET by NBC Sports Network. Prior to the event, RLL drivers Rahal and Jakes will partic­i­pate in the Open Test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Wednesday, July 31.

About Neil Fife
After grad­u­ating with a Master’s of Science degree in Mechan­ical Engi­neering from The Ohio State Univer­sity in 1998, Fife joined Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company as a staff engi­neer from August 1998 to March 2004.  He left to become a research and devel­op­ment engi­neer at Rahal Letterman Racing in March 2004 and was part of the team’s Indi­anapolis 500 win from pole with Buddy Rice later that season. Fife was promoted to assis­tant engi­neer in 2006 and became race engi­neer in 2007 for Jeff Simmons and later Ryan Hunter-Reay, who replaced Simmons with six races to go in the season and went on to become 2007 Rookie of the Year despite a partial season. Fife and Hunter-Reay continued to work together in 2008 and earned the team’s 20th and most recent win in the Watkins Glen race. When RLR scaled back their Indy car program for 2009, Fife joined Hunter-Reay at Vision Racing for three months, during which they earned a second place finish in St. Peters­burg. After that, he applied his engi­neering skills to a non-racing industry for a 17-month stint when he became a project/dynamics engi­neer for Hall­i­dayWachs, a start-up company that designed a series of mili­tary vehi­cles with improved I.E.D. resis­tance.  Fife was lured back into racing in April 2011 by Dale Coyne, who had signed four-time Champ Car cham­pion Sebastien Bour­dais and young driver Alex Lloyd for a split season effort.  Most recently, Fife was race engi­neer for Bour­dais at Dragon Racing from January 2012 to June 2013.

About Mitch Davis
Mitch Davis was previ­ously team manager for Chip Ganassi Racing’s satel­lite Indy car program and has three decades of expe­ri­ence in racing after getting his start at the age of 14 at stock car tracks up and down the east coast. His big break came in 1986 when Jack Roush hired him as a chief mechanic for his IMSA program and he was later asked to lead Roush’s entry in NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series. He returned to IMSA after the Cup program was off the ground and later real­ized his goal of becoming involved in open-wheel racing when legendary chief mechanic Jim McGee offered him a posi­tion as a mechanic at Patrick Racing in 1990. After stints with Galles Racing, including being lead mechanic on Al Unser Jr’s 1992 Indy 500 effort, he was employed by Team Cheever and Heritage Motor Sports before joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing from 2002 – 2007. From 2008 – 2010 he was crew chief at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing before becoming team manager at Chip Ganassi Racing’s satel­lite Indy car program for Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball from late 2010-May 2013.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Browns­burg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Cham­pion and 1986 Indi­anapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan.  The team is in the midst of their 22nd year of open wheel compe­ti­tion and is attempting to add to their 20 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice — their 29 poles and 1992 series cham­pi­onship.  The team also competes in the Amer­ican Le Mans Series as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manu­fac­turer and Team Cham­pi­onships in the GT cate­gory in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 — Manu­fac­turer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Cham­pi­onship and third in the Manu­fac­turer Championship.