Canadian race car driver Paul Tracy is working on finalizing a deal on a full time ride in the IndyCar racing series this year, which is likely to be his farewell after two decades of competing on the open-wheel racing circuit.
According to the Associated Press, Tracy announced Jan. 28 that he is close to landing a sponsor and working on an engine package to drive a car for Michael Shank Racing (MSR), in the Izod IndyCar Series. The first-year team is co-owned by NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger. The report also quotes Tracy as saying, if successful in landing the ride with MSR, “it will be my last year” of a career spanning 22 years racing Indy cars.
“It would be my final year in IndyCar racing,” Tracy is quoted as saying. “After that, I’d like to try to do more sports car racing.”
Sometimes known as “The Thrill from West Hill” after his birthplace in the Toronto suburb of West Hill, Ontario, Tracy competed in 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend. Tracy referred to sports car racing as “the next phase of my career” and he would focus his attention on that form of racing if the plans for a deal with MSR couldn’t be finalized.
“I still want to compete and drive,” Tracy said. “I still have a passion to drive.”
The 43-year-old native of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, made his debut in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) with Dale Coyne Racing, in 1991, but his first full season on the circuit didn’t come until two years later when he won five races. The “Thrill from West Hill,” arguably, enjoyed his most successful year in racing in 2003 when he won the CART series, a precursor to the current IndyCar racing loop. He has only competed sporadically in IndyCar with only 19 starts since 2002 and appeared in only six races last year. Tracy has also competed in the NASCAR Busch, now the Nationwide Series, and Craftsman Truck, now Camping World Truck Series.
The Izod IndyCar Series has 15 races on its 2012 schedule, beginning March 25-27 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The showcase event of the season, the Indianapolis 500, will run May 27. The season features races on oval tracks, closed racing circuits and street courses in the United States, Canada, Brazil and China. The final race of the 2012 IndyCar season will be in Fontana, California, on Sept. 15.