IRL winners feel economic gloom

In Indycar racing the economic downturn has made a bad situation dire. Despite winning races recently Paul Tracy, Justin Wilson and Ryan Hunter-Reay may all be without rides in 2009. Tracy (above, leading Wilson) has been trying to put together sponsorship to pay for a drive at Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser’s KV Racing team. Tracy has $1 million in potential personal sponsorship from energy drink firm Monster, but at the time of writing the remaining budget was undiscovered.

In even more dire straits are Wilson and Hunter-Reay, both race winners in ’08. Wilson was released by Newman/Haas/Lanigan last autumn because it lacked sponsorship, and he cannot find another ride. Hunter-Reay drove for Bobby Rahal’s team, but Rahal lost his sponsor at the end of last season and has laid off more than half his staff. For the first time in 18 years his team will not run an Indycar this season. “If a driver wants to race in the IRL today,” Rahal said, “he has to pay for the privilege.”