With Paul Tracy in the field for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach, the IndyCar Series might want to add a new catch phrase to its marketing arsenal: "Double-file restarts, now with Chrome Horn."
The veteran driver with a penchant for punting others out of his way makes his 2011 debut on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., after signing a five-race deal with Dragon Racing. And with the IndyCar Series replacing single-file restarts with side-by-side action this year, having Tracy in the lineup will certainly make things even more interesting after the new procedure saw several crashes in the first two races of 2011 due to the close quarters.
"Obviously it's created quite a bit of buzz, the double file restart," Tracy said.
"You've really got to be careful who you're around at the time and really have your wits about you, because you've got to not only be looking forward but also looking in your rear view mirror at the same time and that just makes it difficult."
Over his career, Tracy showed a tendency to drive through - rather than around - competitors, which had many joke he had an "Chrome Horn" installed on the nose of his car that he used to knock cars out of his way.
The perils of having Tracy's mythical horn available during double file restarts on the tight 12-turn, 3.167 kilometre street circuit in Long Beach aside, the California track is a great place for him to rejoin the series after he's posted four wins there, including his maiden triumph in 1993.
And for those who wonder why a 42-year-old who won his first IndyCar race almost 20 years ago would still be itching to get into a race car, Tracy simply offered that he's not ready to stay home and watch the television.
"I haven't been able to find anything in my life that gives me the satisfaction and fills my needs of what is my being ─ trust me, I've got plenty of toys, I have motorcycles and boats and sand rails and you name any go fast thing, I've got it, and nothing fills my needs like driving a race car," said Tracy, who is known as "The Thrill from West Hill."
"I want to be on the track and I want to be competing and I know that I can compete at a high level. Dragon is the best team and best level of equipment I've had to date, so I'm real fired up."
The Long Beach race will also be an IndyCar reunion for Tracy, who will take to the street with engineer Eric Zeto on his timing stand. Zeto was in charge of Tracy's 2003 Champ Car title winning crew, and Tracy's first IndyCar victory at Long Beach came while he was driving for Roger Penske, the father of Dragon owner Jay Penske.
The younger Penske has brought together several familiar faces to help Tracy get up to speed quickly once he's back in the car.
"He's [Jay Penske]got a core group of guys that have been in the Penske organization a long time. I've worked with all of the guys on the team at one stage of my career - I've known some of the guys on the team for 20 years," Tracy said.
"Eric Zeto, has been my race engineer when I was with Forsythe, we won the Long Beach race a couple of times together. I think he understands exactly what I need and I understand exactly how he works."
This year marks the fourth that IndyCar's active wins leader, with 31 victories to his credit, has not been able to attract enough backing to compete in a full season. Instead, he's done one-off appearances with several teams since the Forsythe Team he drove for in Champ Car stopped operating when that series was swallowed by IndyCar prior to the 2008 season.
In 2010, Tracy made five starts, with a best finish of sixth at the race in Edmonton. His biggest disappointment last year came when he failed to make the 33-car field for the Indianapolis 500. He'll be back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month in a separate deal with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing trying to erase the frustration of last year.
In between, Tracy will travel to Toronto and Edmonton to announce his sponsors for those races and to do media appearances to promote those events.
But for now, Tracy will focus on the task at hand as he tries to make things happen in Long Beach.
"Honestly, I'm looking at, you know, just the best result that we can possibly get, and I think, you know, I always go into any race with the expectation of, I'm going to do everything I can possibly do to try to win. Is that realistic? Sometimes, no," he said.
"From my standpoint, I'm going to go out there and from the time that the green flag drops till the chequered comes out, I'm going to give everything I have to try to get the best result. If that's a Top 3 or a Top 5 or a Top 10, we give 100 per cent all the time and we'll focus on the next race as we go along."