It’s a bit like the Chinese water torture, in which the drip-drip-drip can be said to drive people mad.
There is nothing that Canadian racing driver Paul Tracy would like more than to sign for a full season of IZOD IndyCar Series racing in which he could say farewell to the fans who have faithfully followed his career over the last 20 years.
During the winter, there were lots of rumours about rides but nothing concrete. Tracy did much to keep the conversation going by dropping hint after hint on his Twitter account.
Then there was an announcement and it really was good news but it wasn’t a season-long deal. It was that he’d signed for one race – the biggest race of them all, granted; the Indianapolis 500 – but it was still for only one race.
Tracy kept Tweeting that there was more to come but then the season started and you wondered if his optimism was maybe a bit misguided. He even gave an interview to an Indianapolis newspaper in which he complained that he had more than a million dollars in sponsorship lined up but none of the current Indy car team owners seemed particularly interested.
Then, in the last week, there have been rumblings that something was, indeed, cooking. Things finally came to a head on Saturday when Speed TV reported (details here) that Tracy had a deal with Jay Penske, son of Roger Penske and one-half of the disbanded Luczo-Dragon Racing IndyCar team (Gil de Ferran being the other partner).
It’s not a whole season – yet – but Tracy’s deal with Penske (who will now call his rejuvinated team, simply, Dragon Racing) is for five races: Long Beach, Texas, Toronto, Edmonton and Sonoma.
Sponsorship for Tracy for his six races – the Indy 500 deal is with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – comes from WIX Filters, wheelpros.com and Motegi wheels. The "Thrill from West Hill" says more associate sponsorships are coming.
Tracy started his big-league career in the early 1990s with Jay Penske’s father’s team. He was eventually fired for being overly critical of the team’s cars but not before Roger Penske tipped off Barry Green of the famous Team Kool Green that Tracy would soon be available – in effect, helping to save Tracy’s career.
Tracy drove for Green in CART until the team was sold to Michael Andretti and was moved to the IRL, at which point Tracy transferred to the Player’s Forsythe Racing team and won his one and only Indy car championship in 2003.
When the IRL-Champ Car feud was settled, Gerald Forsythe shut down his team and Tracy has been without full-time employment since.
So it’s full circle for Tracy and a Penske – Jay, this time. Here’s hoping that this season’s six races become a full season in 2012 and Canada’s most exciting and controversial racing driver finally gets his chance to go out in style.