IndyCar veteran Paul Tracy has hinted that he is on the verge of securing a full-time deal to drive in the upcoming IndyCars Series, but also that he would
quit dying his grey hair retire from the sport at the end of the season.
The platinum-haired Canadian – tied with Sebastien Bourdais as the winner of the most CART/ChampCar races, with 31 in total – competed a part-season with Dragon Racing in 2011 (also starting the Indy 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing), finishing 29th in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
But Tracy could have his first full-time open-wheeler championship drive since his final year of ChampCar competition in 2007, after confirming that he is in advanced negotiations with the championship’s newest team, Michael Shank Racing.
The final terms of the deal with the team – which is co-owned by Tracy’s former ChampCar team-mate AJ Allmendinger – will be subject to what sponsorship backing he can bring to the table, but it would seem that the deal is all but signed.
What is not yet known is what engine MSR will run in its debut season. Despite initially confirming that it would use Lotus powerplants, both sides have gone quiet on any further confirmation. Tracy has personal sponsorhsip from Honda, which could see the team use the Japanese engines next year instead.
Speaking with the Washington Post ahead of getting behind the wheel to compete in this weekend’s fiftieth-anniversary Rolex Daytona 24 Hours, Tracy said he would treat the upcoming year as his farewell tour.
“It would be my final year in IndyCar racing, and after that I’d like to try to do more sports car racing,” he told the newspaper.
“I’ve raced Indy cars now, this season will be my 22nd year, so it will be my last year.”
The 43-year-old cited the performance gap between the Series’ frontrunners – chiefly Team Penske and Dale Coyne Racing – and the rest of the field as one of the chief reasons that he will retire at the end of the year and head to sports car racing.
“It’s very, very difficult to get in top notch, top level IndyCar equipment because it’s so expensive and Penske and Ganassi really have a handle on that,” he added.
“What I think what has hampered me most over the last few years is really only being in a car three, four, five times a year. When you are not out there testing all the time with the likes of Dario or Scott Dixon and all these guys, they are in the car all the time.
“When you are out of the car, you get rusty. It didn’t affect me as bad in ‘07 when … I jumped back in and I could get going right away. And I can still get going pretty well, but it’s so competitive now that you just can’t be out of a car for that long.”