Tracy an untapped sponsor

The best young Canadian race car driver to come roaring down the straightaway since the late Gilles Villeneuve has 129 wins to his credit but not a nickel's worth of Canadian sponsorship.And, says Tony Tracy, father and manager of Molson Indy...

The best young Canadian race car driver to come roaring down the straightaway since the late Gilles Villeneuve has 129 wins to his credit but not a nickel’s worth of Canadian sponsorship.

And, says Tony Tracy, father and manager of Molson Indy winner Paul Tracy, he is not about to fall to his knees to land any.

Corporate Canada is not much interested in putting its money on Canadians, he says.

What sponsorship his son has, says Tony Tracy, is arranged in the u.s. through the Roger Penske racing team for which the younger man drives.

Some sponsors of Paul Tracy are Marlboro cigarettes, Goodyear Tires and Mobil Oil.

Tony Tracy says his son, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of West Hill, draws a salary from Penske and the racing team pays for everything.

One source familiar with the pay of race car drivers suggests Paul Tracy’s salary is about $350,000 a year and 40% of his prize money.

(Last year’s Formula One champion, Britain’s Nigel Mansell, now driving Indy cars, reputedly hauled in $18 million in 1992.)

Paul Tracy, 24, started as a test driver for the Penske team and now shares the spotlight with its other driver, Brazil’s Emmerson Fittipaldi.

The Brazilian leads the PPG IndyCar World Series and Paul Tracy is in fourth place.

Tony Tracy says his son’s win at the Toronto Molson Indy July 18 was his 129th professional victory.

Paul Tracy’s 128th win came in the Cleveland Indy the weekend before his Toronto conquest.

Kevin Albrecht, vice-president, athlete representation at Toronto-based IMG Canada, says it is not surprising Paul Tracy does not have any Canadian sponsorship.

Albrecht says Tracy needs to win consistently over a couple of years for the money to start coming in, cautioning motor racing is a complex business and rights issues can get complicated.

But, he continues, the Toronto win ‘really, really helped [Paul Tracy's] profile’ which has shot up ‘tenfold’ since coming first in front of his hometown fans.

He says how much Paul Tracy could earn from sponsorship depends on how much time he wants to spend with corporations.

Albrecht suggests given Paul Tracy’s youthful appeal and undoubted skill, $800,000 to $1 million from Canadian endorsements is not out of the question.

Elliott Kerr, president of The Landmark Group in Toronto, which represents such athletes as rower Silken Laumann and former Toronto Blue Jay Kelly Gruber, thinks those figures are ‘bullish.’

Kerr says Paul Tracy could make $250,000 to $500,000 a year in Canada from two or three corporate relationships.

Like Albrecht, Kerr is not surprised Paul Tracy does not have any Canadian sponsorship.

He says it is a fact of life for an athlete in Canada that he or she has to make his or her mark on the international scene before making money at home.