When the Olympic torch finally reaches Vancouver next month, Paul Tracy will assume his role as Captain Canada, cheering every time this country's athletes hit the ice or snow in search of gold.
But excuse him if he wishes the event could have been held when the economy wasn't in the dumpster.
"Right now I am beating the bushes looking for more sponsorship to try to run as many of the IZOD IndyCar Series races as I can," Tracy said Sunday. "We have our deal (with American insurance giant Geico) for the Indy 500 set and we are in serious talks (with Honda Canada) to come back with us for the Honda Indy Toronto and the Rexall Edmonton Indy."
It is the rest of the IndyCar 17- race calendar that has him working overtime trying to lure corporate bean counters to the sides of his No. 3 KV Racing Technology Honda-powered Dallara.
And that's where the Vancouver Games is throwing up road blocks.
"Most of the big sports spenders have allocated the biggest part of their budgets to the Olympics this year," Tracy said. "That doesn't leave much on the table for a guy like me who is looking for a couple of million to go racing."
Twin that with a still very stagnant economy and Tracy often feels as if he is trying to scale Mount Everest every time he gets a meeting with potential sponsors.
"Don't get me wrong. I am really fortunate to have a company like Geico and Honda Canada behind me but that only takes care of Indianapolis, the two Canadian races and maybe one or two leading up to Toronto," he said. "But the whole North American economy is still stuck in first gear."
The 40-year-old Scarborough native would like to think that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and hopes it's not just another train heading for a wreck.
"It's worse in the U.S. than it is here, and it's bad here," he said. "Everyone thought when Barack Obama got elected things would turn around overnight but that hasn't happened."
But ever the optimist, Tracy said he is counting on his winning record -- he is the winningest racer still active in the sport -- will turn enough heads to allow him to make a run at another open-wheel crown.
Tracy, the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion, was in town Sunday to help kick off the 50th anniversary of racing at Mosport International Raceway.