Tracy hopes to race in Canada again

Canadian racing hero Paul Tracy is close to signing for a full season of Grand-Am with the No. 77...

Canadian racing hero Paul Tracy is close to signing for a full season of Grand-Am with the No. 77 Doran Racing team -- the same outfit he will suit up for in the Brickyard Grand Prix on . (Sun files)

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS - It still stings Paul Tracy that he didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to his IndyCar fans in Toronto and Edmonton this season.

But in an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, The Thrill from West Hill said he hopes to be back home to race next season — but in the Rolex Grand-Am sports car series.

Tracy said he has heard that there is a solid chance that the revamped Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, just east of Toronto, could land a Grand-Am race in 2013 and if it does, he wants to be there.

He said he is close to a signing a deal for a full season of Grand Am with the No. 77 Doran Racing team — the same outfit he will suit up for Friday at IMS in the Grand Am Brickyard Grand Prix.

He said he is excited at the news that Ron Fellows and Carlos Fidani — the new owners of the former Mosport International Raceway — are making big improvements to the track where he got his first taste of professional racing.

“I think it would be a great opportunity for me,” Tracy said. “NASCAR (owners of Grand-Am) already has a good relationship with Canadian Tire through NASCAR Canada.”

He said he thinks it would make sense for NASCAR to hold a super weekend at CTMP — like they are doing in Indianapolis this week — with a Grand-Am and a NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

“It makes all the sense in the world to maybe have the Nationwide cars race in a double header weekend with Grand-Am,” Tracy said.

He said it would certainly be a special moment for him to go back to that track.

“I grew up at that track,” Tracy said. “I learned how to race a car at Mosport. That was my home track; it has always been a great track but it has been stuck in the ’70s and ’80s era. It hasn’t been improved until now.

“Now that Ron and his partner have taken it over, with the investments they have made, I think it’s going to be a world class facility.”

Tracy said that he feels bad that there wasn’t a way to get a contract done for him to race one final season in the IZOD IndyCar Series, but he has moved on, and sees no chance he will ever return to open wheel racing.

“Yes, it would have been great,” he said. “But I was only racing four or five times a year in the past few seasons so I really couldn’t put together a solid sponsorship program.”

He does have a new deal for his Grand-Am team this week with the Mars candy bar company, the same folks who sponsor Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The No. 77 Doran car will be sponsored by the Mars M&M brand on Friday.

Tracy may not be racing in IndyCars this season but he was a big draw Friday with fans and fellow drivers alike when he got to the track.

One of those anxious to get reacquainted was his old foe from the Champ Car World Series, Sebastien Bourdais, who will also be racing in the Grand-Am event.

“I haven’t talked to him but I’m sure we will meet up (Friday),” Bourdais said.

FINISH LINES

So you think you know Ron Fellows? Canada’s most decorated NASCAR Nationwide series driver — he has four wins — will be the subject of a trivia contest being put together by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 7

JR Motorsports team that Fellows will drive at both Watkins Glen and Montreal next month. Entrants will simply answer five multiple-choice questions pertaining to Fellows’s career. Multiple prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of each race with the grand prize being a three-day driving experience package at Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Nevada. Fans can log onto www.JRMracing.com or www.Fellows5.com for contest details. ... IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball was treated for a fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his right hand at MedCentral Hospital in Mansfield, Ohio, Thursday after an accident during a Chip Ganassi Racing team test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Kimball will be re-evaluated by an Indianapolis-based specialist on Friday.

CAMARO GOING NASCAR

There will be a whole lot of Canada in next season’s NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Chevrolet announced on Thursday that it will introduce the Oshawa-built Camaro as its Nationwide branded race car starting at Daytona in 2013.

It was something of a surprise because General Motors originally felt it could not build a Nationwide version of the reborn Camaro without compromising its unique design features.

But with Ford bringing its Mustang and Dodge bringing its Challenger to the Nationwide series in 2010, the pressure was on Chevrolet to get a Camaro on the track.

Chevrolet’s oval racing track group boss Pat Suhy said the manufacturer’s engineers have been working to fit the Camaro into the NASCAR template and feel they finally found the right formula.

“Our team of Chevrolet designers and aerodynamic engineers did a fantastic job capturing the great looks and styling cues of the production Camaro, while providing our NASCAR teams with a highly competitive aero platform,” Suhy said.

What NASCAR is hoping is that there will be a big rivalry among the so-called pony cars — Camaro, Mustang and Challenger — that will heighten the interest in the second tier series.

NASCAR vice-president of competition Robin Pemberton told The Sporting News that the sanctioning body is excited to get the three muscle car models in the track.

“I think it’s big,” he said. “I think the Camaro-Mustang rivalry and the Challenger rivalry will be good. Anybody can just do a model change with an upgrade to what they’re currently running, but to put the effort forward to introduce a completely new model has really meant a lot to us.”

 


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