Tracy gets IRL ride with Walker Racing for Edmonton
Paul Tracy will finally get his chance to race in the IndyCar Series -- for at least one race.
The former CART champion will drive in the July 26 Rexall Edmonton Indy in a car fielded by Walker Racing, supported by Vision Racing and sponsored by Subway.
"It's going to be good to be back in a race car and see how we can do," Tracy told The Associated Press in a Tuesday phone call. "A lot of these [IndyCar] teams are pretty tired right now. They've had a bunch of races in a short time and there have been a lot of crashes, so people are kind of run into the ground.
"We're coming in fresh, with a fresh outlook and a lot of motivation."
The 39-year-old Tracy, winner of 31 races in CART and its later iteration as Champ Car, found himself out of a ride when Champ Car was absorbed into the IRL's IndyCar Series in February. Forsythe Championship Racing, for whom the Canadian raced in recent years, closed down rather than joining teams moving to the IRL for the 2008 season.
Tracy then found himself in a dispute with team owner Gerald Forsythe over the settlement of his contract and was unable to sign with another team before the start of the season. His only race this year came in April, driving for Forsythe at Long Beach, where the final Champ Car race was run on the same weekend that the IndyCar series was obligated to a race in Japan. Tracy finished 11th.
Meanwhile, longtime open-wheel team owner Derrick Walker did not have the money to make the move to the IndyCar Series and was concentrating on running cars in the developmental Atlantic Series.
Tony George, founder of the IRL and owner of Vision Racing, wanted to sign Tracy to a run a third car for his team, but couldn't find the additional sponsorship dollars. But he was able to eventually broker the deal with Tracy, Walker, Subway and associated sponsor Rexall.
"Derrick and I have been talking all along, trying to work something out," Tracy said.
Tracy flew straight to Indianapolis, where he was fitted for a seat late into Monday night.
"Sure, I would like to be on Penske or Ganassi," he said. "But those options aren't on the table. And Derrick has shown he can do the job if he gets the right tools. With Tony's equipment and Derrick's preparation, I think we can be competitive.
"The important thing is we're going to get a chance to get in an IndyCar and see what we can do. Derrick's team is pretty confident they have a good setup for Edmonton. They put Will [Power] on the pole there last year."
The driver said he is hopeful that Subway, which has been a NASCAR sponsor, will see the benefit of working with him in IndyCar and sign on for more races this year and into 2009.
So far, the only race the Tracy-Walker combo is scheduled to run is Edmonton, one of only three races from the Champ Car schedule that moved to the IndyCar slate in 2008. In the three previous events on the temporary road circuit in western Canada, Tracy has finished third, fifth and, last year, fifth again.
"We think we can show them that they can get a lot of benefit out of this deal," Tracy said. "I'm going to do everything I can to promote it and show them how successful it can be.
"I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but I've been watching the races this year and I've seen that anything can happen."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press