Paul Tracy

Paul Tracy

Champ Car driver
Name = Paul Tracy

Caption = Paul Tracy
Nationality = flagicon|Canada Canadian
Car number =
Team =
Races = 261
Championships = 1 (2003)
Wins = 31
Podiums = 74
Poles = 25
First race = 1991 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Last race = 2008 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Latest win = 2007 Grand Prix of Cleveland
First win = 1993 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Paul Tracy (born December 17, 1968 in Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is a professional automobile racer who competed in CART and the Champ Car World Series from 1991 to 2007. He is nicknamed "PT" and also goes by the nickname "The Thrill from West Hill".

Early years

Fascinated by cars since boyhood, Paul raced go-karts at Goodwood Kartways near his hometown until he was 16. At age 16, in 1985, he became the youngest ever Canadian Formula Ford Champion. He was also the winner of the final Can-Am race at the age of 18; in that same race he achieved the record of the youngest winner in Can-Am history.

Tracy worked his way up through the racing ranks and in the United States he won the 1990 Indy Lights Championship, setting a record with nine wins.

Penske-Newman/Haas years


His first full year of IndyCar competition came in 1993 and he won five times with his first win coming at Long Beach and the others at Cleveland, Toronto, Road America and Laguna Seca. Paul led the series in laps led and was voted most improved driver by his peers. The 1994 season started out slowly for Tracy as he scored just two points in the first four races. He rebounded from his poor start and finished on the podium in eight of the final twelve races with victories at Detroit, Nazareth, and Laguna Seca. His third-place showing in the points gave Penske a sweep of the top-three slots with Al Unser Jr. winning the title and Emerson Fittipaldi second. That year, Tracy also tested with the Benetton Formula One team at Estoril.

Despite three successful seasons at Penske racing, Paul switched to Newman/Haas Racing for the 1995 season. Although he won two races (Australia and Milwaukee) and finished 6th in the championship, Tracy returned to Penske racing for 1996. His return to Penske was a disappointment as he finished the season with no wins and 13th in the championship. A back injury also forced him to miss two races. 1997 was a roller coaster season for Tracy. He won consecutive events at Nazareth, Rio de Janeiro and Gateway, to take the points lead. The season went downhill soon after as he finished 26th or worse in each of the final five events to slip to fifth place in the championship. His wins were the 98th and 99th for Penske Racing in CART; they had to wait 3 more years for their 100th.

Team Green years

Tracy left Penske racing again to race for Team KOOL Green for the 1998 season. The year was a struggle as he finished no better than fifth in any race and ended up a disappointing 13th in the championship. Several on and off track incidents during the year earned him the wrath of CART officials and he was excluded from the 1999 season opener. Although he missed the first race, Paul still had a very successful season as he recorded seven podium finishes and had victories at Milwaukee and Houston. He finished third in the championship. The 2000 season was also a success for Tracy as he won at Long Beach, Road America and Vancouver and finished fifth in the championship. Paul sat on the pole for the Michigan 500 with a new track record speed of 234.949 mph. Paul's fourth year with Green in 2001 was one of the worst of his career as he went winless and finished 14th in the championship. 2002 was another year of struggle for Paul. He did win a race at Milwaukee but failed to finish 10 of 19 races and was 11th in the championship.

With Team Green, Tracy returned to the Indianapolis 500 in 2002 for the first time since 1995. A late-race caution flag for a crash appeared at nearly the same time he passed Helio Castroneves for what would have been the race lead. This incident proved controversial due to the lack of evidence from camera angles showing whether or not he was ahead of Castroneves. Debate continued on the issue of whether the caution flag was timed to stop a CART driver beating the regulars of the rival Indy Racing League, which is run by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George. Perhaps as a result of this, he was voted CART's Most Popular Driver Award.

Forsythe years

Paul Tracy made his off-season move to the Player’s/Forsythe team for the 2003 season and had one of the best ever seasons in champ car history. He became the first driver in 32 years to win the first three races of a season, scoring victories in St. Petersburg, Monterrey and Long Beach. His other victories came at Toronto (perhaps his finest victory of the season and of his career, as he led all 112 laps, and, at one point, had a lead so big that when the first full-course caution of the race came out, Tracy managed to complete a pit stop before anyone else even got close to the pit lane entrance), Vancouver, Mid-Ohio and Mexico City. He led 658 laps, earned six poles and ten podiums on the way to his first ever championship. Due to tobacco advertising laws, Player's could not return as a sponsor for the following season. At the same time, CART went bankrupt and its assets were auctioned off in an Indiana court. The series was purchased by Kevin Kalkhoven, Paul Gentilozzi and Tracy's team owner Gerald Forsythe. The lack of sponsor money certainly did not help the team and Paul was unable to defend his championship in 2004. He finished fourth in the series and had wins at Long Beach and Vancouver.

The 2005 season started out strong for Paul. He led the points standings after 5 races, winning at Milwaukee and Cleveland. Bad luck and mistakes characterized the rest of his season. He was leading at Toronto when he ran out of fuel and crashed on his own while leading the race at Denver. A hard crash with Sébastien Bourdais at Las Vegas ended his championship hopes. Tracy finished the year 4th in the standings.

2006 looked to be a transitional year for Tracy, with a 5-race deal run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series possibly becoming a full-season contract in 2007. However, for a number of reasons, including poor results in the first three Busch races, Tracy reconsidered and determined that staying in Champ Car might be his best option. In May 2006, it was announced that Tracy had re-signed with Forsythe Racing for an additional five seasons. He announced plans to compete in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2007 for Riley D'Hondt Motorsports with sponsorship from SportClips, but he has since stated that he has no plans to run in NASCAR in 2007. In November 2006, Tracy was injured while riding an ATV, but a rumor started that he had jumped a sand trap in a golf cart. Tracy denied the rumor and stated that he does not even own a golf cart.

In January 2007, Tracy vowed to win the 2007 Champ Car title. [ [ PAUL TRACY'S NEW YEAR COMES WITH RENEWED COMMITMENT] , Champ Car World Series, January 2, 2007] However, on April 14 during a practice session at Long Beach, he crashed into a concrete barrier and suffered a fractured vertebra which forced him to miss the race and the next one in Houston. In late-May, he was given the green light by doctors to return into action for the race in Portland on June 10. [ [ Tracy returns to the track this week] , Canadian Press, May 21, 2007]

Post-Champ Car Career

Following the unification of open wheel racing in North America, Forsythe announced that he would not be moving on to race in the IndyCar Series in 2008, leaving Tracy a free agent after the 2008 race at Long Beach. After being without a ride for most of the season, Tracy has signed a deal to drive for a joint Vision Racing/Walker Racing effort in the Rexall Edmonton Indy with sponsorship from Subway. Despite starting 15th in the race, due to a last qualifying lap spin by Marty Roth during the second knockout session; Tracy showed he still had what it takes to win in open wheel racing, finishing 4th behind Justin Wilson, Helio Castroneves, and winner Scott Dixon. He had a fastest personal lap time of 1:02.9258 at 112.876mph set on lap 77.

French helmet controversy

During his racing career, Tracy has been involved in several controversies notably involving CART bosses. Also, several rivals had alleged that he is aggressive and sometimes dangerous which caused several accidents and feuds in the past. However, the most recent and high-profiled incident involving the Canadian driver was the French helmet controversy.

During the 2006 season, he was involved in a controversy in which he said that French drivers always keep or do not want to remove their helmets during altercations. This happened after two incidents in races in San Jose and in Denver. In San Jose, Tracy missed a right curve and went straight into an open space area. By trying to return to the track, he hit Alex Tagliani's car, damaging the whole front of it. After the crash, Tagliani, a French-Canadian, confronted Tracy in the pits displaying his frustration at him and wanted him also to pay for the damage since Tagliani's race team had financial issues. Tracy then warned Tagliani not to touch him and eventually they threw several blows at each other before Champ Car officials separated the two men. Tracy noted that Tagliani was still wearing his helmet during the scuffle. Both men were fined an undisclosed amount of money, while Tracy was put on probation for three races and lost seven points. [ [ Champ Car fines Tracy and Tagliani] , Canadian Press, August 2, 2006]

At the next race in Denver, Tracy and French driver Sébastien Bourdais were fighting for the second position during the last lap. At the last curve of the race, Tracy, while having fuel and brake issues, was well behind Bourdais coming into the final corner. Still, Tracy didn't slow down enough and lost control and hit Bourdais's car in the process. The Newman-Haas driver then charged himself towards Tracy and gave him a shove while the Canadian invited to confront him. However, Bourdais didn't continue the altercation and walked away. Tracy was docked an additional three points in the championship and was fined $25,000 US dollars. Champ Car mentioned that "Tracy's on-track actions in Denver were determined to be in violation of his probation" [ [ Tracy fined, docked points for Denver race] , Canadian Press, August 15, 2006] a probation stemming from the San Jose incident. Bourdais requested a suspension to Tracy since he cost him several points that could have limited the drop of his lead in the point standings from A. J. Allmendinger, Tracy's teammate who won the Denver race and thus sinking significantly Bourdais's lead in the standings.

During a post-race interview, Tracy criticized Bourdais for not confronting him after the incident : "Too bad he wouldn't take his helmet off, then we really would have settled things. But French guys always keep their helmets on". [ [ Tracy downplays French-helmet remarks] ,, August 14, 2006] Tracy did downplay those remarks citing it as a joke. Tracy added one week later: "I said it was a joke, but it's a fact. If I said anything untrue, I'd apologize for it, but in both instances, they came to me to get in an altercation with their helmets on. I don't regret it, but I said it in joking". [ Bourdais suggests "welcome" for Tracy] , Canadian Press/, August 24, 2006] Bourdais, Tagliani and Quebec-driver Andrew Ranger asked for the crowd to boo him at the next race in Montreal, on the weekend of August 26.

This incident also renewed a heated rivalry between Tracy and Bourdais in which the Canadian driver criticized his rival for knocking him out of the race on several occasions in the past and that this incident was a payback according to him. In regards to the helmet remarks, Bourdais fired back at Tracy and quoted: "I guess I'm not a hockey player and I didn't see him taking his helmet off either. I guess if he wants to fight someone, he is in the wrong sport." and added : "It's just Paul Tracy making a fool out of himself race after race." [ [ Bourdais responds to Tracy incident] ,, August 15, 2006]

Tagliani added : "I said he (Tracy) should wear a straight jacket because that's the only thing that could keep him under control. And Sébastien (Bourdais) said he can't drive with that on, so maybe it's the only thing that could keep him out of trouble".

During warm-ups and qualifying sessions for the race, the crowd at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve booed him loudly. During the traditional drivers presentation before the race, Tracy was wearing a blue mask and a Quebec flag as a cape while doing wrestling gestures, and the fans began to warm up to him. [ [ Rain postpones Montreal Grand Prix] , Canadian Press, August 27, 2006] RDS, TSN's sister television network title an article as : Paul Tracy, "le Crazy Québécois" (the crazy Quebecer) [ [ Crazy Quebecois] , (dead link)] and TSN captioned an image with "Captain Quebec". Tracy finished the rain-delayed race in second position behind Bourdais on the following Monday. Fans cheered for Tracy as he wore a Quebec flag on the podium. [ [ Bourdais edges Tracy in Montreal] , Canadian Press, August 28, 2006]


As of 2006, Tracy resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has two children, Alysha and Conrad. He has a business interest in Spy Sunglasses.

Complete Champ Car results

: "* 2008 season in progess": "1 Run on same day.": "2 Non-points-paying, exhibition race."

Indianapolis 500 results


ee also

*List of Champ Car drivers
*List of Canadians in Champ Car

External links

* [ Official website]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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