Paul Tracy’s recent foray into the world of Trans Am sports car racing has awoken the Champ Car champion’s interest in making more regular visits to the cockpit.
Following his retirement from IndyCar late in 2011, Tracy used the outing in Doug Peterson’s Trans Am Camaro at Road Atlanta to test his desire for adding competitive driving back into his life. And with the fun he had in both races, the Canadian is currently on the hunt for more opportunities in sports cars to complement his commentator role with NBCSN in IndyCar.
“My biggest concern was when I left the sport back in 2011 after Dan [Wheldon] had passed, I left with a sour taste in my mouth,” Tracy said. “I wasn’t driving in good equipment and I wasn’t running well. I was coming away from every weekend feeling not happy with how things were going. I didn’t want to fully retire – I thought I’d go into something else, and I just kind of stopped altogether.
“With the years that go by, the feelings go away, and then all of a sudden, it started again. I was afraid I’d be old and slow … [but] I was able to get up to speed pretty quickly. I came away from the car with a big grin on my face. We’ll see what happens in the future. There are some [Trans Am] dates that work for me that don’t conflict and we’re going to see if I can drive the car some more.”
With one week to prepare for his first race weekend in seven years, cardio and muscle endurance was Tracy’s biggest shortcoming in the Trans Am car. He’s been hitting the gym harder since Road Atlanta to ensure he’s ready for whatever he drives next.
“I was out of breath a lot more than I should have been, so that part’s easy to fix with training,” he added.
One thing that came back in an instant was PT’s hardcore racing instincts.
“It’s either there or it’s gone, and I know now it’s still there. I hate to lose to anybody, whether it’s for 10th or first.”
With five Rolex 24 At Daytona starts to his credit and experience at Watkins Glen, Mosport, and Laguna Seca during the Grand Am era, Tracy would like to resume his endurance racing career in IMSA. Its WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and even the second-tier Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series for LMP3 machines hold an interest for the hard charger.
Strapping into a Chevy- or Honda-powered IndyCar, however, isn’t part of PT’s plans.
“Not in IndyCar. I’m too old and I’m too big now to fit in an IndyCar; too heavy. I’m 49 years old, so I’m past that stage,” he conceded. “But I’d like to do some IMSA stuff, I’d like to do a couple of more 24-hour races before I completely hang up my helmet. One of the interesting things that was talked about was Doug Peterson’s team has two new Ligier LMP3s. That idea got kicked around and that would be fun.”