Colorful, controversial at times, and successful describes Paul Tracy’s racing career. With determination, stubbornness, and pushing both himself and his machine to levels others would not, Tracy has amassed a record in open-wheel racing that has done Canada proud. Starting in karts, as most open-wheel racers do, Tracy took his role behind the wheel seriously, and learned his craft well.
At age 16 he became the youngest Formula Ford champion, and a year later he won the final Can-Am road race, held at Mosport in 1986, racing the Horst Kroll Frisbee. With his sights set on North America’s premier open-wheel series, Tracy started in CART with Dale Coyne and then Penske racing in 1991. He continued on a part-time level with Penske the next season, running in 11 races for the injured Rick Mears and placed 12th.
This gave him a ride with Penske in 1993, and he reciprocated with five race wins, including in front of the home town folk in the Molson Indy Toronto. Although he switched to Newman/Haasin 1995, he went back to Penske for the 1996 season, and then with Team KOOL Green with limited success until 1999 when he went to the podium seven times and placed third in the championship.
But it was in 2003 that PT had his defining year. Driving for Player’s Forsythe Racing, he won seven of the 18 races on the card, including a popular victory in Toronto. He continued with theteam the next several years, placing fourth in points twice in CART. In 2006 he also raced vehicles with fenders, competing in NASCAR’s Busch Series, and the Grand-Am Rolex Series.
In 2008 he got back into an open-wheeler, now for Vision and Forsythe Racing in the CART-replaced IndyCar Series with limited success. He continued with this until 2011, and a year laterco-piloted a Doran Racing Dallara in the 24 Hours of Daytona, where he helped the team to a satisfying seventh.
Tracy has commented he is proud of his part in the Toronto IndyCar races, adding his first Toronto win was the turning point in his career.
Tracy returned to Toronto this year, not as a driver, but as the color commentator for the NBC Sports Network, which broadcasts the Verizon IndyCar events.
While some of the hardness has left, Tracy continues to be honest and forthright in his opinions, providing IndyCar television audiences a refreshing and honest view. You know what he tells usis correct and he would probably love the opportunity to get back behind the wheel and show us.