Best of luck to both of you!!! Graham, that race in Alabama was awesome!! You were passing those guys like they were sitting still at the end of the race.
Graham Rahal and Courtney Force, dubbed racing’s “Power Couple,” arrived this month at Indianapolis as an engaged couple, and told IMS Blog correspondent Phillip B. Wilson how it all happened. For more on their busy Mays and Graham’s outlook for this week’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course, click here.
They met at a race, of course. Where else would Courtney Force and Graham Rahal find each other?
It was Force behind the wheel, though, not the son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal. Courtney had sent him a Twitter message offering tickets to an NHRA race. So he went to Joliet, Illinois, to watch the daughter of 16-time national champion John Force zoom down the track at 300-plus mph in a Funny Car.
They hit it off.
Afterward, Rahal confidently said to his brother, Jarrad, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
“You’re out of your frickin’ mind,” an amused Jarrad said.
Standing next to his fiancee Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after Opening Day practice for the 99th Indianapolis 500, Graham said with a proud smile, “I wasn’t lying, was I?”
Perhaps it must be described as a whirlwind romance, considering how fast these two 26-year-olds make a living. Courtney told Graham they had to date for at least one year before considering wedlock.
“It was 10 days after a year,” he said of a memorable proposal.
They were in Venice, Italy, with family for Thanksgiving.
“We took a gondola ride,” she said.
That’s when Graham, for so many years a fun-loving eligible bachelor in the Verizon IndyCar Series, was a calculated romantic. He planned it and caught her by surprise. And, yes, he got down on one knee.
“He did, on a wobbly gondola,” she said, smiling.
The forecast called for rain the next day. No way Graham was going to have his proposal washed out. So he asked her to take a boat ride, although it was about 8 p.m.
“We went up and down the canals, and we’d kind of eek out some lighting because it was a really dark canal and then we’d come to a street and it would be lit up and then it would be dark again,” Courtney said.
Graham couldn’t do this in darkness. He stalled. First came the compliments and telling her how much he loved her. Then he seemed to veer of course and to talk about the architecture of the buildings.
“‘He’s being weird,’” she thought to herself.
The gondola veered around a corner to begin the finishing stretch to their drop-off. They were in open water. A well-lit cathedral provided an ideal background.
“He distracted me,” Courtney said. “I looked back to look at it, and he turned on a GoPro and recorded the whole thing.”
Their wedding will be in California when racing seasons end.
Until then, Graham focuses on driving for his father and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He’ll get ready for Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, then set his sights on qualifying for an eighth Indy 500. His best finish was third in 2011.
Courtney has next weekend off to enjoy the grand prix, then returns to NHRA duties. She’ll drive the Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS Funny Car for John Force Racing in Atlanta, then the next week in Topeka, Kansas, during Indy 500 weekend.
“I guess the rest is history,” Courtney said. “He didn’t waste any time, that’s for sure.”