P. T. BRUISER
Mears, whose calculating style was the
total opposite from his understudy’s. “It
was like qualifying on every lap and he had
trouble feeling what the car was telling
him so we could get him a better car.
“I think it was at Laguna Seca [’ 93]
when Emerson beat him to pole position;
Paul couldn’t understand how the old man
could have beat him. I explained Emerson
Green concurs with the four-time Indy
winner. “Paul gave everything all the time,”
he says. “I guess his weakness was his
inability to engineer a car. But that was also
his strength, because he’d adjust his driving
style to suit the car and make it go fast.”
Reynard/Honda/Firestone was the package
to have and Tracy was strapped with a
Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear. Yet he tied
Ganassi’s champion Zanardi for laps led
and managed three consecutive wins.
“And don’t forget, 19 of Paul’s wins
were when he was usually spotting the
field 70 pounds because there was no
weight rule then,” says Kendall...
Despite eight wins in his first two full
seasons in CART Indy Car, Tracy was too
raw and uncut to be a Penske lifer so he
moved to Newman/Haas in ’ 95, returned
to Penske for two years, and then in ’ 98
joined Team Green, where he was paired
with a Scottish kid who’d push his limits.
“When I was a rookie in ’ 97, P. T. was a
major star, but he’d always take time to
answer my questions and ask how I was
doing,” recalls Franchitti. “So we were
already friendly, but I think that first year
together at Barry’s team, I surprised Paul
with how competitive I was.
“After that, we had some moments on
the track, but we never had a cross word
with each other. We did piss off Barry a
few times though…”
Green watched his talented two-some
tangle four times across 1998-’ 99 (Dario
scores it 3-1 as P. T.’s fault!) and nearly
came to blows with Tracy on one occasion.
“We were both intense and had some
arguments, but we had a lot of laughs
as well,” remembers Green.
What wasn’t funny was the 2002 Indy
500. Replays show Tracy ahead of Helio
Castroneves when the yellow light flashed
on for the final time, but he didn’t get his
face on the Borg-Warner Trophy following
a protest that Tony George disallowed.
“That race, Paul hung in there all day,
Ten years after his first Indy car victory,
P. T. finally won the CART title at Surfers
Paradise (BELOW) in 2003, following his
seventh win of the year in Mexico (RIGHT).
WORTH THE WAIT
“Paul gave everything all
the time… He’d adjust his
driving style to suit the
car and make it go fast”
Along with the 31
victories came losses
and altercations that
were part of Tracy’s
allure. Among them,
he was robbed of
victory in the 2002
Indy 500 (LEFT) and
enjoyed an amusing
Bourdais at Denver
in 2006 (RIGHT).