Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Former series champion Tracy may miss out on unification

Former series champion Tracy may miss out on unification

Canadian driver Paul Tracy, the biggest name in the soon-to-be-gone Champ Car World Series, is without a ride for 2008.
A spokesman for Gerald Forsythe, co-owner of Champ Car and owner of Forsythe Championship Racing, said on Thursday the team will no longer race Indy Cars and will instead compete only in the developmental Atlantic Series.
That apparently leaves former series champion Tracy, who was hoping to move to the Indy Racing League in the long-awaited unification of America's two open-wheel series, looking for a ride.
"It kind of leaves me hung out," Tracy said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I just got the information, too. ... Now I have some legal issues to jump through with this. I need to step back with my management and sort through my contract, which has a buyout."
Neil Micklewright, vice president of operations for the Forsythe team, said in a statement the team had been unable to secure the necessary sponsorship to be able to compete in the IRL IndyCar Series this season.
The 39-year-old Tracy said that once he was free from contractual obligations with Forsythe, he wants to sign with another team as quickly as possible.
"I want to be part of the new series," said Tracy, who won the 2003 CART championship, Champ Car's predecessor. "I'm a race car driver and I love open-wheel racing. I want to be in a competitive situation, to be able to win races and run for the championship."
Tracy could have one more ride in the Forsythe Champ Car.
Micklewright said the team would participate in the April 20 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be the final race run with Champ Car equipment. But Micklewright added that the team's drivers for that race would be announced later.
The IRL teams will race in Japan that week and officials were unable to move either race date. Instead, they agreed to run both races, having the Champ Car series, using a skeleton staff, run what would have been its season-opener. Points earned at Long Beach will count toward the IRL championship.
As both open-wheel series struggled to draw fans and attract sponsors, Champ Car has lost many of its biggest stars in recent years to the IRL, European racing and NASCAR. Most recently, four-time series champion Sebastien Bourdais of France left at the end of 2007 to drive in Formula One.
Other than Tracy, who leads all active drivers in the series with 31 victories, the biggest name remaining in Champ Car is 19-year-old Graham Rahal, son of former Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time CART champion Bobby Rahal.
Rahal, who was Bourdais' teammate, will move to the IRL with eight-time series champions Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
The Atlantic Series was part of the Champ Car World Series but was not included in the unification agreement with the IRL that was signed by Forsythe, Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and Tony George, founder of the Indy Racing League.
Kalkhoven said on Wednesday that the Atlantics are now co-owned by him and Forsythe and will run an independent 12-race schedule. But Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser, another former open-wheel champion, will move their team, KV Racing, to the IRL's IndyCar Series in 2008, along with all of the other former Champ Car teams with the exception of Forsythe.
Meanwhile, the IRL announced that it will hold special test sessions for the Champ Car teams that are making the move to the IndyCar Series on March 19-20 on the road circuit at Sebring International Raceway and March 24-25 on the oval at Homestead.
The season-opening race is on March 29 at the Homestead track.
Eight to 12 cars from Champ Car are expected to be added to the grid for the opener.
The deal to unify includes George's offer to the former Champ Car teams of a free Honda engine leasing program, two Dallara chassis and $1.2 million (euro790,000) in team incentives that are also offered to the ongoing IRL teams.


Updated : 2021-07-25 17:28 GMT+08:00