Tracy leery of racing in Edmonton
Though it's still possible Paul Tracy will appear on the Rexall Edmonton Indy grid, he was flying the caution flag Tuesday.
|Tracy is worried that car he gets might be hodgepodge of old parts|
Sixteen days before the first practice at City Centre Airport, the veteran open-wheel pilot from Toronto, isn't quite convinced the pending last-minute deal to secure a one-off ride with Vision Racing, supported by a team of Derrick Walker Racing engineers and mechanics, is worth the risk to his career and reputation.
Walker, on the other hand, said it was practically a done deal.
"We are right in the final stages of putting it together," Walker said from Indianapolis. "It's looking fairly good. We're about a couple of days away from a press release."
According to Walker, Vision Racing president Tony George, who is also president of the Indy Racing League, secured primary sponsorship for the car. George could not be reached for comment.
But Tracy made it clear there are many details to hammer out, including his compensation. The former CART and Champ Car driver said he's willing to jump behind the wheel at a discounted rate, but he does expect more than the standard 50 per cent share of any potential prize money.
"When I drove for Forsythe, it was well-known that I signed a five-year, $2.5-million (US) deal. It paid about $170,000 per weekend," Tracy said from his home in Las Vegas. "I'm asking for less than half of that. I don't want people to think Paul doesn't want to race unless he gets paid. But I have certain expenses before I can even drive."
One of those is a $12,500 premium to Lloyd's of London, for a weekend's worth of health and life insurance. He also expects to be paid for his public relations value to the sponsors, the team, Edmonton race organizers and the IRL.
"I feel I'm worth a certain value. The story of me coming into the race will be a big deal. It won't be just a local story, it will be worldwide. With the exposure level, I think I'm worth more than a couple of plane tickets. I set a price which I think is fair. It's less than I have driven for in the last 15 years. I'm willing to do it for this. I'm not asking for money that's out of line."
Now, some might see his demands as detrimental to the process and perhaps even his career, since he doesn't have a full-time ride and beggars aren't supposed to be choosers.
But Tracy has an impressive open-wheel resume and expectations to match. He has raced for Penske, Andretti-Green and Forsythe, kings of CART and Champ Car. For him to jump into an IndyCar cockpit for the first time on the Thursday of race week, without a test, is a massive risk. He expects, and rightly so, to get paid for putting himself out on that limb.
And he expects to be competitive.
"I've been accustomed to a certain level of equipment and preparation. I've been with Penske, Forsythe and Andretti-Green. You know what you have is good stuff. You don't have to worry about it.
"With the Edmonton race, sure I would love to be there. Does it make sense to get into it with a thrown-together team? Who knows where the car is coming from? Has it been crashed 20 times? I just don't know.
"It's a giant risk. It could do me more damage than good." More at National Post