Bobby Rahal is taking on yet another formidable task - running Jaguar Racing in Formula One.
Rahal will remain CART's interim president and CEO and a team owner until Dec. 1, when he will officially became CEO of the F1 team owned by Ford Motor Co.
The announcement was made Wednesday in a television studio across the street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Rahal won the 1986 Indianapolis 500.
Neil Ressler, a longtime Ford executive and now the chairman of Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Racing and Pi, a racing electronics firm, will continue in those roles, but give up the day-to-day operation of the team to Rahal for at least the next three years.
"He's shown himself to understand racing at the top level, to have business acumen, get along well with people, to be a good team builder, to have the type of leadership abilities that will help us greatly at Jaguar," Ressler said.
"Doing it the way we're doing it will allow me to focus on the three companies and it will allow Bobby to focus entirely on running the team. . . . That should be a very compatible and mutually advantageous arrangement. This is the first building block. There will be more to come."
Although he has had a long relationship with Ford, Rahal's selection was something of a surprise.
"I'm sure some people might say what do I know about Formula One?" Rahal said. "I think that misses the point to a large degree. This a company whose main task is to enter motor racing events and to win them and to represent Jaguar Cars in a manner in which Jaguar would wish to be represented.
"It's not like I'm creating a race setup. We've got engineers to do that. My task is to take the organization, work with the various components within that organization and to assist in turning it into a winning team."
The team was founded in 1996 as Stewart Racing by former F1 driving star Jackie Stewart and his son, Paul. Starting from scratch, little was expected, but the team matured quickly and showed promise in the second half of last season.
Johnny Herbert gave the team its first victory in the European Grand Prix at Nurburgring and, with Ford on board as the new owner, the newly coined Jaguar Racing finished fourth in the manufacturers' points.