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Tracy stuck in Canada, expired passport
Several hours after Toronto’s Paul Tracy attended a press conference yesterday to announce details of his ride in this year’s Honda Indy Toronto (he’ll be sponsored by Honda Canada and the Toronto Blue Jays and will race in support of the Make-A-Wish Canada children’s charity), he discovered he couldn’t get out of Dodge.

His passport had expired and anybody who tries to travel to the United States knows that you need one to be admitted to that country, particularly if you travel by air.

Said Tracy in a "tweet" to his fans: "I can’t leave Canada, my passport is expired. I need to go to the passport office in the morn(ing). Maybe I was not meant to be in Indy this year."

That last sentence was a reference, of course, to his failure to qualify for Sunday’s race. And, yeah, perhaps it was meant to be that way.

Sometimes there are signs . . .

Tracy announced his passport problems to a hard core group of fans who follow him on Twitter. Many people read his stuff, including newspaper reporters (this one included). A number of stories and columns have been written based on Tracy’s "tweets," which he sends out primarily (and usually) from the couch in his Las Vegas living room.

Just before the press conference yesterday, in conversation with several people – including one motor racing heavyweight – Tracy was urged to do two things: find a way to do some colour commentating on TV coverage of Sunday’s 500 and start paying attention to people other than those who read his Twitter entries.

As I overheard this conversation – it was something not necessarily meant to be off the record but not earmarked for general public consumption either – I won’t identify the people involved other than Tracy. But because he’s a public figure – one of Canada’s greatest racing heroes – who’s trying to keep his career going, the advice offered is of interest.

I actually started the conversation by asking if he was flying back to Vegas and Tracy answered in the affirmative.

VOICE: Why don’t you stay in Indy and do some colour on the (500) telecast?

TRACY: That’s for when you’re retired.

SECOND VOICE: No, you’ve got it wrong. You’ve got to keep your face out there. If I was you, I’d go on television with my shoulders square to the world and my head held high. I’d tell the world I was Paul Tracy and this (failure to qualify) was just a temporary setback..

TRACY: I talk to people.

SECOND VOICE: Paul, the people you tweet to are not the people who write the cheques.

With that, the press conference started. But I can tell you, from the look on Tracy’s face and his body language, that the fellow doing the talking had struck a nerve.

Tracy’s correct about "retired drivers" doing colour commentary on TV. Most of the analysts and colour people – like Toronto’s Scott Goodyear, who will appear on ABC’s Indy telecast on Sunday – are out of the cockpit.

But not always.

In 1966, the great Johnny Rutherford went flying out of Eldora Speedway in Ohio in one of the worst sprint car accidents you’ll ever see and managed to escape with his life. Among his many injuries were two broken arms.

Obviously, he couldn’t race. But he appeared as a commentator on the closed-circuit presentation of that year’s Indy 500. I saw it at Maple Leafs Gardens and there was Rutherford, casts from his wrists to above both elbows, telling the world that once he healed up, he’d be back in a race car.

That’s what Tracy’s friend was suggesting he do. Norris McDonald's Auto Racing Blog

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