Just a few days removed from experiencing his greatest heartbreak, IndyCar driver Paul Tracy will be visiting the Danville Family YMCA in Danville, Illinois, on Friday, May 28th, at 11:30 AM (CDT) to sign autographs, take pictures and visit with the public. Danville is the hometown of Tracy’s business associate, Doug Barnette, who is a longtime financial supporter of the YMCA.
Tracy is regarded as one of the top racecar drivers in the world, but on Sunday he became the latest victim of Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he failed to qualify for the 2010 Indianapolis 500. Tracy joins a distinguished list of famous names who have missed qualifying for the world’s biggest race, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser, Jr., Bobby Rahal and Roger Penske, just to name a few.
Tracy, driver of the #15 GEICO car for KV Racing Technology, finished 9th in last year’s Indianapolis 500, marking his first return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2002 when a controversial ruling sent him home with a runner up finish. The Indy Racing League ruled that he passed Helio Castroneves under caution on the final lap of the race despite video evidence that would indicate otherwise.
Given the circumstances, most drivers in his situation would flee the city of Indianapolis after not qualifying for the 500, but the 2003 Champ Car Champion is honoring his commitment to make a return trip to Danville. Known for his colorful, outspoken personality, Tracy is a true gentleman and cares deeply about children, spending vast amounts of time with them when afforded the opportunity.
Danville Family YMCA executive director, John Alexander, met Tracy last year and is happy that Tracy has decided to visit the YMCA.
“Paul Tracy paid a visit to our Y last year with Doug (Barnette), and we are thrilled that Doug has arranged for Paul to make a formal visit this year. It’ll be fun listening to him talk to our members and share stories from his successful racing career. It’s not often that you get one of the top racecar drivers in the world to come by, so this is exciting for us, as well as the city of Danville." He continued, “Doug has been a wonderful supporter of the Danville Family YMCA and is always looking for ways to promote the programs and values of our Y, so I’m glad we could get this coordinated."
Tracy and Barnette have a close friendship that spans the last seven years and over that time Barnette has talked a lot about his hometown of Danville.
“I’m so excited that P.T. (Paul Tracy) is coming to Danville after all that he’s been through over the last few days." Barnette said. “He truly enjoyed his visit here last year and I talk so much about this place that he now always asks about what’s going on here." He continued, “This says everything about Paul Tracy. He is a first class guy and I’m proud to count him as one of my best friends. He is like family to me."
Tracy echoed Barnette’s sentiments and looks forward to seeing the YMCA and visiting with the kids that will be on-hand.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to Danville and seeing some familiar faces," Tracy said. “I had a great time last year at Friendly Town, so this year it’ll be nice to see the YMCA and all of the things going on there. I know Doug is a great supporter of the Y and I’m sure he’ll be announcing a special donation of some sort. Doug and I are great friends and he has a big heart, which is why it was important for me to make this trip."
Barnette, who donated $25,000 in 2007 to name the YMCA’s large gymnasium floor after his high school basketball coach, Gene Gourley, will be announcing a donation to replace all of the basketball rims and backboards in the building.
Joining Tracy will be children from local elementary schools, as well as local media. Additionally, the #13 GEICO NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racecar driven by Max Papis will be on display.