Paul Tracy

Full Name:
Paul Anthony Tracy
Born:
17th December 1968 (Age 50)
Scarborough, Ontario
Nationality:
Canadian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

With spectacular car control, this former teen prodigy drew early comparisons with great Canadian Gilles Villeneuve. An uncompromising and fierce competitor who has clashed with officials and rivals alike, Paul Tracy only won one major championship title during his long career.

Promising early racing career

When the 16 year old arrived in British Formula Ford in 1986 it was as the youngest Canadian FF1600 Champion in history and winner of the very last Can-Am race. With his expatriate Irish father happy to supply the hype, the bespectacled youngster was soon driving a Duckhams Van Diemen. He was fast but crashed as often as he finished.

Tracy returned to America and won his first race in the American Racing Series (later renamed Indy Lights) in 1988 before dominating two years later for Landford Racing. He used his prize money to hire Dale Coyne’s Lola T90/00-Cosworth for the 1991 Long Beach GP.

Champ Cars debut and the call from Penske

Although he retired from that Champ Car debut, he had impressed Roger Penske who immediately signed him as test driver. Tracy also raced a third Penske-Chevrolet in three races that year. He qualified an impressive eighth for his first appearance at Michigan only to break his left leg when he crashed on lap three.

Due to drive a year-old Penske PC20-Chevrolet in selected events during 1992, he finished fourth at Phoenix. However, he replaced team-mate Rick Mears while the four-time Indy 500 winner recovered from surgery. Tracy qualified on pole position at Elkhart Lake and finished second at Michigan and Mid-Ohio.

Mears retired at the end of the season and Tracy was a fulltime Penske driver from 1993. It was a season given added spice by the arrival of reigning Formula 1 world champion Nigel Mansell and Tracy proved a match for the Englishman’s speed if not racecraft. They both won five times but Tracy’s performance at Phoenix perhaps summed up this fast and fearless wild child. He was two full laps ahead of the field but would not ease up and he crashed while lapping a backmarker.

Formula 1 test and a year with Newman-Haas

He ended 1993 third in the championship and with a test for the Benetton Formula 1 team at Estoril. However, he remained in Champ Cars and finished third again a year later behind team-mates Al Unser Jr and Emerson Fittipaldi as Penske dominated. With the team only running two cars in 1995, it was Tracy who was farmed out to Newman-Haas. He led the championship early on and his Lola T95/00-Ford won twice before Tracy faded to sixth in the final points.

He returned to Penske for the next two seasons but 1996 was interrupted by injuries sustained at Michigan. Again he led in the points in 1997 after winning three times in a row but the Penske PC26-Chevrolet became less competitive as the year wore on. Tracy retired from the last five races of the season to slump to fifth in the standings.

Tracy joins Team Green

Tracy left Penske and joined Team Kool Green for 1998 but it was a controversial campaign in which he crashed out of no less than eight rounds. On probation after an incident in Detroit, he was fined in Portland and Houston (the later after an altercation with team owner Kim Green). He seemed set to end his winless streak at the Fontana finale when he spun during a safety-car period just five laps from the finish.

The 1999 season began under a cloud when Tracy was barred from competing in the opening round due to a clash with Michael Andretti at Surfers Paradise in October 1998. However, he rallied to win twice and finish third in the championship once more. That said, it seemed that this firebrand of a star would never win a major American prize.

Denied victory at Indianapolis

The Champ Car/Indy Racing League dispute had denied him the annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis since 1995 but he returned in 2002 with a Green-entered Dallara IR2-Chevrolet. He passed Hélio Castroneves for the lead on the penultimate lap but was denied victory because his pass occurred as two cars were crashing in Turn 2. That caution froze the running order and saved the Brazilian. Tracy contended that he was ahead when the track went yellow – an assertion backed up by two following drivers – but officials ruled against this interloper from the rival series.

Champ Car champion at last

Tracy stayed loyal to Champ Cars and finally got his reward in 2003. He moved to Forysthe Racing and proved a popular and dominant champion in a series that had lost many of its star drivers and teams to the IRL. The organisers that had penalised him just four years previously were delighted that the biggest star to remain had finally won the Champ Car title.

He stayed with Forsythe for the next four seasons but by 2008 the Champ Car series was untenable. Its owners accepted reunification with the Indy Racing League and Tracy has been an occasional Indycar driver ever since. Fourth at Edmonton in 2008 was a rare top-five finish. Now a 40-something, perhaps this rock ‘n’ roller is finally eying a quieter life among his family and collection of Harley-Davidsons.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2011 IZOD IndyCar Series
Dragon Racing
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
6 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
29th 68
2010 IZOD IndyCar Series
KV Racing Technology
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
5 0 0 0
0% win rate
27th 91
2009 IRL IndyCar Series
KV Racing Technology
AJ Foyt Racing
6 0 0 0
0% win rate
23rd 113
2008 IRL IndyCar Series
Forsythe Championship Racers
Vision Racing
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
33rd 51
2007 Champ Car World Series
Forsythe Championship Racers
12 0 2 1
9% win rate
11th 172
2006 Champ Car World Series
Forsythe Championship Racers
13 0 3 0
0% win rate
7th 209 (219)
2005 Champ Car World Series
Forsythe Championship Racers
13 3 7 2
16% win rate
4th 246
2004 Bridgestone Champ Car World Series
Forsythe Championship Racers
14 3 4 2
15% win rate
4th 254
2003 Bridgestone Champ Car World Series
Forsythe Racing
18 6 10 7
39% win rate
1st 226
2002 Indy Racing League
Team Green
1 0 1 0
0% win rate
34th 40
2002 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
19 0 4 1
6% win rate
11th 101
2001 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
20 (1) 0 2 0
0% win rate
12th 78
2000 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
20 1 6 3
15% win rate
5th 134
1999 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
19 0 7 2
11% win rate
3rd 161
1998 FedEx Championship Series
Team Green
19 0 0 0
0% win rate
13th 61
1997 PPG CART World Series
Marlboro Team Penske
16 (1) 2 4 3
19% win rate
5th 121
1996 PPG Indycar World Series
Marlboro Team Penske
14 (1) 3 1 0
0% win rate
13th 60
1995 PPG Indycar World Series
Newman-Haas Racing
17 0 5 2
12% win rate
6th 115
1994 PPG Indycar World Series
Marlboro Team Penske
16 4 8 3
19% win rate
3rd 152
1993 PPG Indycar World Series
Marlboro Team Penske
16 2 8 5
32% win rate
3rd 157
1992 PPG Indycar World Series
Marlboro Team Penske
Penske Racing
11 1 3 0
0% win rate
12th 59
1991 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Dale Coyne Racing
Penske Racing
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
21st 6
1990 HFC American Racing Series
Landford Racing
14 7 9 9
65% win rate
1st 214
1989 HFC American Racing Series 11 0 3 0
0% win rate
8th 65
1988 HFC American Racing Series 11 0 1 1
10% win rate
9th 58
1986 Can-Am Challenge
Kroll Auto Service
1 0 1 1 0