Paul Tracy told CTV’s Beverly Thomson Tuesday that he was thinking of retiring in the aftermath of the crash at Las Vegas Speedway Sunday that killed Dan Wheldon.
Tracy, Canada’s fastest, badest, daredevil racing driver whose nickname is “the Thrill from West Hill,” said his mother and wife had encouraged him to consider hanging up his helmet.
Now, I don’t really know Paul Tracy. I’ve interviewed him a bunch of times, had dinner with him, hung around a little and so-on, but I don’t really know what’s going on inside his head.
Having said that, and knowing what I do about what makes racing drivers tick, I suspect at the end of the day that he won’t say he's quitting. Now now, anyway.
I wouldn’t bet my house on it, but if Paul Tracy decides to call it a day eventually, I think it will be on his terms and not in the emotional aftermath of tragedy.
Paul Tracy is 42 and has been racing almost his entire life. When he was a kid, his dad would drop him off at a kart track while he was on his way to work and pick the boy up on the way home. He was in formula cars as a teen (he was Canada’s youngest Formula Ford champion at 16) and drove in — and won — the last Can-Am Series race ever held when he was 17. He was a record-setting Indy Lights champion before he was 20 and then started driving for Roger Penske. He's been an Indy car driver ever since.
In his time, Tracy's been in races where people were killed, most notably Greg Moore in 1999. I don’t think he considered giving up then and I don’t think, at the end of the day, that he’s seriously considering giving up now.
Yes, this is a time of grieving for a racing life lost, a time of personal reflection and of respect for the wishes of others. But Paul Tracy is a racing driver. It’s what he does and it’s who he is.
And he’s still got races to win and projects to complete. He’s got a book in him (I’ve had my hand up to help him with that for awhile now) and sports car races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring to run.
And then there’s that little bit of unfinished business called the Indianapolis 500. He won it in 2002 but his name and mug still aren’t on the Borg-Warner Trophy and I suspect he’ll want to try to change that before calling it a day.
Paul Tracy has said he wants a farewell tour. He wants one more trip around the circuit to say goodbye. If that’s not possible — if the sponsorship isn’t there to support him and his team for a season — then he’ll likely settle for Toronto, Edmonton and Indianapolis.
For a guy like Tracy, you want to go out with your head held high. You want to do it your way.
With your fist in the air and the checkered flag flying.