Paul Tracy lands Indy 500 ride UPDATE A year ago, open wheel star Paul Tracy was suffering through an awkward departure from Forsythe Racing that left the racing world scratching their heads. Oh, how things change in twelve months.
After enjoying his freedom and racing everything from trucks in the desert to trucks in NASCAR’s Truck Series, Tracy has decided that it’s time to return to the place that stole his joy.
In just a few weeks, Paul Tracy will re-visit the atmosphere that saw him depart Indianapolis with a 2nd place finish in 2002. KV Racing Technology will field the #15 entry for the Indianapolis 500 and GEICO will provide primary sponsorship, with the ‘gecko’ adorning several areas of the race car.
|Paul Tracy (L) and Max Papis, who dressed as the Geico gecko. Papis, who is a friend of Tracy's, is also sponsored by Geico in NASCAR|
Tracy recorded an Indianapolis 500 win in 2002 before a controversial ruling by the Indy Racing League sent him home with runner-up honors. Race officials ruled that Tracy passed Helio Castroneves under caution on the final lap of the race even though videotape would indicate otherwise. Tracy took the decision in stride, but vowed to never again step foot in Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A year later, in 2003, Tracy joined Forsythe Racing in the Champ Car World Series and became the first driver in thirty-two years to win the first three races of a season. After recording seven wins and six poles, he notched the series championship and rebounded from the pain he felt in Indy a year earlier.
Tracy has been a member of the GEICO Racing family since driving the GEICO NASCAR entry in Mexico City in the spring of 2006 for Biagi Bros. Racing. The 2003 Champ Car Champion was also featured on geicogarage.com alongside close friend and current GEICO NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and former open wheel standout Max Papis in 2008. 04/17/09 KV Racing Technology will field a car for open-wheel superstar Paul Tracy at the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500, May 24, 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana.
“We’re pleased to be able to accompany Paul Tracy on his return trip to the Indianapolis 500,” expressed Ted Ward, GEICO’s vice president of marketing. “Having a relationship with two world class drivers such as Paul Tracy and Max Papis, as well as KV Racing Technology, allows us to spread our message of safety on a much broader scale and we are excited about the opportunity.”
Regarded as one of the top race car drivers in the world, Tracy is one of the most cerebral wheelmen in the business and he possesses unparalleled passion and enthusiasm. His return to Indianapolis is much anticipated and could quite possibly be auto racing’s story of the year.
KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, “I think I can speak for everyone at KVRT when I say that running Paul Tracy at the Indy 500 is very exciting. I also want to thank GEICO for supporting our efforts. Even though Paul hasn’t been in an open-wheel car much the last year, having raced against him and knowing his ability, I am sure he will get up to speed immediately.”
Tracy’s colorful personality and aggressive style is what has earned him the nickname ‘The Thrill from West Hill’, and makes him one of the most globally recognized racers in the business.
“This is a great opportunity and I can’t thank GEICO and KV Racing enough for stepping up and making it happen,” Tracy said. “Jimmy (Vasser, team owner), Kevin (Kalkhoven, team owner) and I are close friends and I have long been associated with GEICO, so it is exciting to have it all come together. It’s also a nice association to be teammates for a month with Max Papis who drives GEICO’s Cup car. Max is one of my closest friends, so I am sure he will join me in Indy at one point during the month.”
He continued, “Indianapolis is a special place and I look forward to returning and taking a run at getting a win and putting my name in the history books. I’ve committed my life to racing and a win at Indy is something that is very important to me. The past is the past and I’ll go to IMS focused on the present putting forth my best effort for GEICO and KV Racing.”
Tracy is nothing if not versatile and he will get up to speed quickly. In July 2008, he hopped in a car for Vision Racing in Edmonton’s IndyCar race and turned in a 4th place finish despite having been out of a car since Long Beach in April.
In May, Tracy will have plenty of practice time and he will also have support from one of the Indy Racing League’s top teams in KV Racing Technology, so stay tuned. One thing is for certain: When Paul Tracy is involved it will be nothing short of exciting.
Tracy, the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion, is one of the most successful and exciting drivers in the history of open-wheel racing. The 40-year-old Canadian will be sponsored by GEICO Insurance and pilot the #15 GEICO - KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry during the 2009 Indianapolis 500. Tracy will team with Mario Moraes, #5 KV Racing Technology - Votorantim Honda/Dallara/Firestone, in a two-car effort for KVRT at this year's Indy 500, which marks the opening of the Centennial Era for the Speedway and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the facility. The 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be in 2011.
"I am pleased to announce that Paul Tracy and GEICO Insurance will be joining KV Racing Technology for the 2009 Indianapolis 500," said KVRT co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. "Paul is one of the greatest and most exciting drivers in the history of the sport, while GEICO Insurance is an outstanding company and a leader in the industry. I am confident that Paul, with the support of GEICO Insurance, will provide KVRT with a very competitive entry in this year's Indy 500."
"We're pleased to be able to accompany Paul Tracy on his return trip to the Indianapolis 500," expressed Ted Ward, GEICO's vice president of marketing. "Having a relationship with two world class drivers such as Paul Tracy and Max Papis, as well as KV Racing Technology, allows us to spread our message of safety on a much broader scale and we are excited about the opportunity."
Tracy, who's talent, determination and on-track performances have made him a fan favorite, will be contesting his sixth Indy 500 and first since 2002 when he was the runner-up. In five previous races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, four in CART/Champ Car and one in the IndyCar Series, he has a best qualifying position of seventh in 1993. His best finish is second in 2002. Tracy will be attempting to qualify for his third IndyCar race, albeit over three different seasons. In addition to the 2002 Indy 500, he ran the IndyCar Series event at Edmonton last year qualifying 15th and finishing fourth.
"I want to thank GEICO Insurance, Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser for the opportunity to compete at this year's Indianapolis 500," Tracy said. "I have accomplished a lot of things during my racing career, but one of the things that I am missing is a win at Indy. I feel I have some unfinished business at the Brickyard and with the support of GEICO and an outstanding team like KV Racing Technology, I feel good about our chances at this year's 500."
Tracy will be contesting at least one race in his 19th season this year. During a span of 18 seasons, Tracy has crafted a career that has established him as one of the top drivers ever to step into the cockpit of an open-wheel car. The resident of Las Vegas, Nevada is among the top-10 in almost every Champ Car career statistical category including wins, 31 (sixth all-time), poles, 25 (eighth all-time), and laps led, 4,231 (sixth all-time). He has 75 career podium performances, 102 top-five finishes and 141 top-10 showings in 263 starts (261 in Champ Car, tied for eighth all-time and two in IndyCar). In the 15 seasons in which Tracy has competed in over 80% of the races, he has finished in the top-10 in the championship standings 10 times including eight times in the top-five, four in the top-three and captured the championship in 2003.
KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, "I think I can speak for everyone at KVRT when I say that running Paul Tracy at the Indy 500 is very exciting. I also want to thank GEICO for supporting our efforts. Even though Paul hasn't been in an open-wheel car much the last year, having raced against him and knowing his ability, I am sure he will get up to speed immediately."