Boardroom racing

CRASH CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

The modern life of a race-car driver is not always spent with his hands on the wheel, practising with the car he will be racing.

The reality is, as much time or more time is spent with hands extended in boardrooms hoping to shake on a deal that will allow a driver to even get his hands on the wheel of anything other than the ol' Mustang he (or she) still has in the garage.

It's something Alex Tagliani knows all too well from recent experience.

While the popular Canadian driver is in Edmonton to help promote this summer's Rexall Indy, the fifth running of open-wheel racing extravaganza at City Centre Airport, he's also here working on a proposal that will have him in a car.

"It is difficult because you're out there not really taking the time to train and to focus just as a driver and (on the) driving," Tagliani said at Northlands yesterday.

He is a notorious fitness buff, as a racer needs to be. But he's also proven tireless working for and with media, sponsors and promoters here in Edmonton - where he's raced both when it was a ChampCar event, as well as with the NASCAR Canadian Tire series last year - in Toronto, before the long-running event there took a forced hiatus in 2008, and, of course, at events in his hometown of Montreal.

Tagliani has also become all-too-aware of an environment where all but a handful of drivers need to bring sponsorship packages to the car owners' table.

It's part of the deal he's come to accept.

"I'm playing a small part in trying to promote the sport that I love."

The economic dive of recent months doesn't help for a racing series that has faced its own economic obstacles in recent years as it attempts to regain a status that had it alongside NASCAR in North American racing prominence.

"First of all, yes, it's a difficult climate," said Tagliani. "But nobody's going to stop advertising, because everybody still wants to sell things.

"It is financially difficult, but Iife goes on and everybody has to work hard - work harder - for the same things."

Which is what he is currently pitching to as-yet unnamed groups.

"One of the reasons why I'm here for these three days:we've put together a proposal to a group of companies, something long-term, something that will benefit (everybody).

"It's a project really worth putting in the time and effort.

"As a Canadian driver, it's very important to me we protect the events that we have. We're lucky - and we need to feel lucky - that we have two IndyCar events in Canada.

"Losing an event can be devastating. I know it for a fact. A lot of people in Montreal are going to feel the pain this year with the loss of Formula One."

DAVID.CAMERON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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