Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away
The signals are loud and clear.
Paul Tracy, a.k.a. the Thrill from West Hill, a.k.a. the Chrome Horn, a.k.a. PT, will be back in the cockpit of an Indy car in 2014.
Or will he?
I am hearing from multiple sources that Tracy, of Scarborough and Phoenix, who has not been in a competitive open-wheel ride since 2011, will drive in four IndyCar Series races this year with the most important being the Indianapolis 500 in May and the two Honda Indy Toronto races in July.
He’ll get warmed up by running in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier in May.
Or so the rumours have it.
Tracy, of course, is not confirming this to anybody. And as he’s done before, he’s milking this thing by leaving teasing messages on his Twitter feed for people to make of what they wish.
On March 6, for example, he Tweeted: “Very excited about the opportunity to be back at some of my favorite venues … Stay tuned.”
And what does that mean, you ask?
Well, he really could be back in an Indy car for those four races. On the other hand, he was at the Honda Indy Toronto one day last July and drove in a Robby Gordon Formula Off-Road Stadium SUPER Trucks race. They put on a pretty spectacular show and will be back at the Ex this coming July, as well as at the Long Beach Grand Prix, so perhaps that’s what Tracy is talking about in that Tweet.
I prefer to think (hope?) it’s the real deal, though. There are going to be fewer than two dozen cars competing full-time in the IndyCar Series this season, which means that at least 10 Indy-only rides will be available.
Jacques Villeneuve has announced he’ll be back at Indianapolis, and I also hear that Robby Gordon himself is looking for a ride. Alex Tagliani is in the hunt as well.
If you’re Paul Tracy, just hearing those names and “Indy 500” in the same sentence has got to get the adrenaline flowing. And I think I know Tracy well enough to know that he figures he can beat them all, too.
So don’t be surprised if there’s an official announcement one of these days. What that announcement will be, however, is still the question.
Prediction: If there’s a sponsor ready to foot the bills, he’s in. With due respect, Indy car racing hasn’t had a dominant personality since Paul wound up in the fence driving for Dreyer & Reinbold. With Danica Patrick gone, there is no lightning rod, no controversy. IndyCar needs Tracy. He needs IndyCar. Let’s hope somebody’s really making it happen.
NOTES: Roger Penske couldn’t lose last weekend. His NASCAR driver, Brad Keselowski, won both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway while the Captain himself was golfing at Augusta National where he shot a hole-in-one, his first, on the 154-yard fourth hole. . . . Penske is now even with Tracy’s mother, Vivian Tracy, who shot a hole-in-one herself a few years ago. . . . The 12 Hours of Sebring goes to the post this weekend and Sebastien Bourdais, who won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in a Corvette Daytona Prototype, will be back with the Action Express Racing team. Other IndyCar Series drivers running at Sebring include series champion Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan, Justin Wilson, Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Martin Plowman and Townsend Bell. The IndyCar Series season gets under way in two weeks in St. Petersburg. Canadian star James Hinchcliffe is the defending race champion. Toronto Star Wheels correspondent Stephanie Wallcraft will preview the 2014 season in the issue of March 22. Don’t miss it.
– NORRIS McDONALD