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.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.
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)
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.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.
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)
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.