CHAMPCAR/CART: Tracy announced as Surfers Paradise Indy 300 ambassador

The current leader of the Champ Car World Series and 1995 Gold Coast winner, Paul Tracy, has been announced as International Ambassador for this year's Lexmark Indy 300 to be held from October 23 to 26. And if current form is anything to go by,...

The current leader of the Champ Car World Series and 1995 Gold Coast winner, Paul Tracy, has been announced as International Ambassador for this year's Lexmark Indy 300 to be held from October 23 to 26.

And if current form is anything to go by, the new International Ambassador could be the first driver to win twice on the Gold Coast street circuit.

The 34-year-old Canadian made a sensational start to the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford winning the first two rounds in St Petersburg, Florida and Monterrey, Mexico.

Tracy, who drives for team Player's/Forsythe Racing, became the first driver in 21 years to win the opening two races of the Champ Car season and his most recent victory took his career tally to 21.

He was a winner on the Gold Coast in 1995 and will be one of the favourites when the series returns for the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 23 to 26.

"It's great to be named International Ambassador for the Lexmark Indy 300. It's a terrific race and a race I've always enjoyed coming down to.

"I look forward to coming back this year and being more involved with the race. I have family down there with aunts, uncles and cousins, so it's a great time.

"I'm hoping to be the first repeat winner. Since I won in 1995, there has never been a repeat winner -- I think that is a first for the series.

"There have been 12 different winners and to be the first to win the Lexmark Indy 300 for a second time would be fantastic."

Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager James Ashworth said he was delighted that Paul Tracy accepted the invitation to be International Ambassador for 2003.

"Paul has been a foundation for Champ Car racing since starting his career in 1991 and has always been a strong advocate for the Gold Coast round of the series," said Ashworth.

"He will be a positive voice for us in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Europe, and will be a great face for the event in Australia as October approaches."

PAUL TRACY INTERVIEW

Q: Congratulations on being named International Ambassador for the Lexmark Indy 300.

PT: It's great to be named International Ambassador for the Lexmark Indy 300. It's a terrific race and a race I've always enjoyed coming down to since I started to come to the Gold Coast Indy. I look forward to coming back this year and being more involved with the race.

Q: It's been a long time since you won in 1995 and you could be the first repeat winner of the race this year.

PT: I'm hoping to be the first repeat winner. Since I won in 1995, there has never been a repeat winner -- I think that is a first for the series. There have been 12 different winners and to be the first to win the Lexmark Indy 300 for a second time would be fantastic.

Q: What do you remember about that 1995 win?

PT: It was a tough race. It was a long race. I remember Michael (Andretti) was leading, Bobby (Rahal) was right there with him, and I caught the both of them. I got by Bobby then I caught Michael, then Michael brushed the wall. With about four or five laps to go, I was able to get by him and he hit the wall tearing the suspension off. I really only led about the last four laps but they were the most important ones.

Q: Why is the Lexmark Indy 300 your most favourite race of the year?

PT: I think, in general, the organisers put on a great event. They give the drivers a lot of great activities to do in the week leading up to the race that they enjoy doing outside in the sun and on the beach. It's a great town to have a little vacation before the start of the race and to go race at.

Q: You have had a great start to the season. Could you be in a situation where you are challenging for the championship on the streets of the Gold Coast?

PT: I hope so. I hope to be challenging for the championship. With our fingers crossed, maybe we will have it wrapped up by then. I doubt it. It's a competitive series and we have got off to a good start. I'm fortunate that all the problems we had over winter in testing are well and truly behind us.

Q: You were a staunch supporter of CART last year when there were a few 'doomers and gloomers' and a few doubters about the series. You put it on the line by staying with the series and speaking out about the way it was, and also by joining Player's -- an exciting new team for you.

PT: It's been a great opportunity with Player's and myself getting together. Everybody on the team is very excited. We both support CART. Gerry Forsythe supports CART so it was a natural marriage for all three of us. We've had a great start to the year and it's only going to get better from here.

Q: It was a bit of a homecoming for you with Player's being a Canadian owned and Canadian sponsored team.

PT: Well it really is. Being on a Canadian team -- an all Canadian effort has been great. It's been a long time in the making and a great start to the season. I don't think anyone could have dreamed of a better start.

Q: And now as International Ambassador for the Gold Coast race, you will be an adopted Aussie.

PT: I enjoy my time on the Gold Coast. I have family down there with aunts, uncles and cousins, so it's a great time.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy