Casualties of peace

Posted by Iannucci | 5/07/2008 | 8 comments »
Bookmark and Share

Sherman, set the WABAC machine about 5 years and show up at any IRL or CART event. Likely the most popular drivers in their respective series would be Sarah Fisher and Paul Tracy, and although both of them have had some rough years since they were both full season participants.

Now fast forward to Indy in 2008 and notice how differently things look. The top level of US open-wheel racing is now under one series and the number of entries at Indy has risen since ‘03, but for these two drivers the days are significantly darker. From consecutive posts today on the IBJ’s “The Score” comes news that being popular is simply not enough in this unified world.

One of the most well known drivers from the now defunct Champ Car open-wheel race series, Paul Tracy, is still without a ride for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Veteran race team operator Derrick Walker is trying to put together an 11th hour deal that will put Tracy on the famed Speedway this May. Walker told IBJ yesterday the effort to field a car is looking grim—though not completely dead.

“At times, I think we’re real close,” Walker said. “But if we’re going to go out there, I want to put together a solid effort, and that takes about $500,000. The worse thing that can happen is to become a bump day story. I don’t want to make a fool of myself.”

(MORE from The Score)
You can talk about how outspoken he is with such notable utterances as “crapwagon” and “working for hamburgers and hot dogs”, but you can’t help but wonder what rides Tracy turned down just because he thought Ganassi or Andretti would be falling all over themselves to hire him. Could he have been driving one of those vastly improved Vision Racing entires, or perhaps the KV Racing car that Oriol Servia has performed so well in? Coulda shoulda woulda, but to think his only hope is a longshot, one-off from Derrick Walker is nothing short of stunning.

Meanwhile...

As of today, Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher has lost her primary sponsor for this year. But she vows to continue her qualifying efforts for this month’s Indianapolis 500.

Klint Briney, Sarah Fisher Racing executive brand manager, said ResQ Pure Power Energy Drink has failed to meet a May 1 deadline to pay for the sponsorship.

“We’re going to be out here throughout May,” Briney said. “We’re committed to doing that and we still feel like our chances of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 are good.”

Fisher launched her own team earlier this year and has been working to land enough sponsorship dollars to race three or four races including the Indianapolis 500 this season. Her ability to race beyond this month now appears to be in jeopardy.

(MORE from The Score)
Just a few weeks ago it looked like this team was off to a great start. Fisher had lined up her own sponsorship for the Sarah Fisher Racing team comprised of family members and had budgeted participation only in races with which she felt most comfortable. It was a great plan (with a sweet-looking car) that went entirely sideways when “ResQ” went and did the opposite of rescuing her season. She’s still entered in the race, although there hasn’t been a team yet that improved from losing financial backing.

And yet, looking at these two it can’t help be wondered if they would be better served individually were the series still separated. Tracy would surely still be featured as a Champ Car asset in a series featuring three races in Canada, and Fisher would likely be pulling sponsors as the down-to-earth alternative to the IRL’s glitzy and glamorous (ahem) poster-girl. But now with endless stories featuring Unification, Danification, and Grahamification, it would seem interest in the pugilistic driver and the girl next door has been lost in the shuffle.

So here they are, two drivers who despite retaining loyal fans throughout the years may end up being spectators come May 25th.

8 comments

  1. Grizzlor // May 07, 2008 3:01 PM  

    Tracy sounded more like teams were contacting him, but that he was expected to bring cash. Frankly I don't know what the deal was with Vision? One minute he and George are speaking well of each other, and then Davey Hamilton gets the seat. The other problem was that Tracy didn't get any kind of release from his contract until Long Beach, April 18. One week after that, he came out and said there were no open seats. I really think the lack of sponsorship hurt him the most, and that can easily be blamed on Gerald the Jerk Forsythe, who refused to respond to PT for weeks, months even.

  2. Anonymous // May 07, 2008 9:09 PM  

    ResQ what the hell ????

    what is their problem ?????!!!!

    mad!!! Somebody get Sarah more $$$ and Sponsors pronto !!

  3. Anonymous // May 07, 2008 9:20 PM  

    with such notable utterances as “crapwagon” and “working for hamburgers and hot dogs”, Paul Tracy deserves his fate of having NO JOB in the IndyCar Series.

    People have to learn no matter what occupation you are in, what you say in the past will bite you in the ass.

  4. Anonymous // May 08, 2008 4:19 AM  

    I find I have to agree with Anonymous immediately above. Business 101 - don't ever, ever, ever burn bridges. Those bridges may be a lifeline in the future. Paul burned lots and lots of bridges in his career, and now he's paying that price.

  5. LA // May 08, 2008 6:07 AM  

    Didn't PT even say he would only consider going with one of the "big 3". if that's the case... vision doesn't qualify. maybe that's why he's not with vision now. they probably haven't contacted after a comment like that.

  6. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // May 08, 2008 9:18 AM  

    Sarah Fisher ...
    I could just cry.

  7. Grizzlor // May 08, 2008 11:04 AM  

    Despite Cavin's constant insistence, I really don't believe Paul's past comments are a factor. The factor is money my friends, what else is new? Tracy is not willing to buy the ride, in fact, he wants to get paid. Forsythe took so long to finally let him out of the contract, sponsors like Monster were out of marketing money. Remember Tracy presented a Monster sponsorship in February to Forsythe, who demanded more money. So without buying the ride, how many teams are going to hire Tracy? Vision is definitely one, maybe the only one right now. I don't know what happened there, but all along Tony George seemed fairly stern that Tracy needed sponsorship. I think that is a mistake on his part, but it's his money to spend, not mine. Lastly, Tracy has won quite a few races, a championship, etc. At his age, what does he have left to do? Win or at least contend for the win is what he wants to do. Why should the active wins leader get into a 20th place car?

  8. Anonymous // May 08, 2008 12:26 PM  

    The ResQ deal had floated around fro two years before Sarh decided to take it. They spoke to our team first in 2006. There was never any money. They had no product, no distribution, just a plan.They asked us to do the same thing, start racing and they would get us money.Too many deals like this in racing, who remembers the Big Daddy BBQ fiasco.They ended up on Nascar(Donlevy Car), Indycar(Cahill Car) and was even a series sponsor. Didn't last long, only thing they ever paid for was one set of tires for Junie Donlevy.
    The high cost of racing sometimes makes teams do things like this in desperation.I saw this one coming a mile away.