Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani have both found themselves on the wrong side of the sponsorship wave in their careers. Before driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports (formerly FAZZT Race Team), Tagliani had not raced full-time since 2007, and it even appeared that FAZZT was going to fold before Schmidt bought into the operation. Tracy had also been unable to land a full-time ride since 2007, only running handful events per season in each of the last four seasons. However, each has seen that aspect take a turn for the better recently.
Tracy, whose three remaining confirmed races are at Toronto, Edmonton, and Sonoma, is optimistic that more races will be added to the slate with Dragon Racing. “I’m pretty confident we’re going to run Las Vegas. We had a meeting in the last week with one of our sponsors about extending our schedule this year maybe by two or three events. We’re looking at Baltimore, Kentucky, and potentially Loudon or Mid-Ohio. We haven’t decided yet, it depends on what comes through. But, there are a few more races we’d like to pick up if possible.”
He added that, while still uncertain, things are leaning toward the good side, “Right now, it’s probably 60/40 (racing more this year). I think it’s on the good side. I think, for sure, Las Vegas will be added. Whether we can get (Baltimore, Kentucky, or Mid-Ohio) in is a little bit more up in the air. But, we definitely plan on running at Las Vegas.“
However, they are also focused on 2012, wanting to have all areas fastened down before heading into the offseason. “Really, the focus now has switched to securing our budgets for next year, in 2012, with the new car. So we’re trying to get a head start on next year and get all of our partners now in the bank for next year and hopefully put together a full season, instead of waiting until September or October to start. We have some meetings in Toronto this week, we had some meetings last week with our sponsors about next year. Hopefully, we can put it all together and turn it into a full season next year.”
Canadian counterpart Alex Tagliani has also found himself more secure in his team’s finances. After winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500, team owner Sam Schmidt declared that it was almost a necessity in order to help bring in more funding, which he mentioned could run thin as the season wore on. But, Tagliani points out that their sponsorship prospects have improved. “It looks secure. I had some pretty good news lately. We’re looking to the future. I have a rather good platform of sponsors and I’m pretty excited about that.”
But, he didn’t shy away from the importance of their success at Indianapolis. “The Indianapolis 500 pole, the result was very important to Bowers and Wilkins. When you bring a new sponsor to the series with a new team, it’s very difficult to show them a return and why they need to be involved. We were able to do that this year and slowly but surely they started to believe.”
He is also confident for more of the same in 2012. “I can’t be any more happy than I am right now. It looks promising and it’s already looking good for 2012, something that I never had the chance to have in the last couple of years, competing in a season and knowing that the next year looks good. I’m very excited, more than ever before.”