The Rahal Letterman Racing Team recently had another podium finish, with its BMW M3 GT Coupes finishing second and third in class (and seventh and eighth overall) at the grueling 12 Hours of Sebring sports car race on March 20.

The Rahal Letterman Racing Team recently had another podium finish, with its BMW M3 GT Coupes finishing second and third in class (and seventh and eighth overall) at the grueling 12 Hours of Sebring sports car race on March 20.

"It was a great run for us," said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of the team with CBS Late Show host David Letterman. "A year ago, one car wouldn't even start, and the other one lasted only six hours. This time around, they ran very hard all 12 hours."

Rahal Letterman Racing is based in Hilliard.

"My business relationship with Hilliard started when (Truesports Racing owner) Jim Trueman decided he wanted to go Indy Car racing in 1981," said Rahal, 57. "I came in and part of my responsibility, other than driving, was to set up a team and find a place."

Rahal wanted the team to set up shop near Trueman's home in Amlin.

"We rented part of a building just south of Hilliard on Cemetery Road facing I-270, and we shared it with a fellow who was importing and distributing men's cologne," Rahal said.

Trueman built the present Lyman Drive facility in 1984. Rahal achieved his greatest success with Truesports Racing in 1986, winning the Indianapolis 500 just days before Trueman died of cancer.

When the Truesports team disbanded in 1992, the three-time IndyCar champion needed a home for his own racing team, so Rahal leased the building and has been there ever since.

In 2001, Rahal Letterman Racing began building a race shop next to the original building. The newer building features the main race shop, including areas to create body panels, sheet metal, parts and tools, as well as a room for testing the suspension system and a paint booth.

"We were really running out of room. At one point, we had three entries, which meant we had a minimum of six cars and upwards of 90 people," Rahal said.

The team's Hilliard headquarters currently encompass nearly 60,000 square feet and house IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series programs. A spokesperson said the team employs 35 people at present.

Rahal, who recently donated an IndyCar to COSI, commutes from his New Albany home to Hilliard.

"It's been great being a part of Hilliard," Rahal said. "It's kind of hard to believe it's been going on 30 years that we've been in the Hilliard-Columbus area."

"We've been proud to have them here, and we've had a good working relationship with them," said Hilliard City Council president Brett Sciotto. "They've created a state-of-the-art facility for their racing team."

"From Mayor (Roger) Reynolds in the beginning to the current administration, everything's always been great, and we've seen Hilliard really grow in all those years," Rahal said. "It went from being nothing but a lot of farm fields to all of the sudden one housing development after another. The infrastructure and roads have kept pace with that. I think it's been a great community for us to be a part of."