Paul Tracy's absence from the cockpit for much of the 2008 US open-wheel season is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Canadian's frustration, after it emerged that he was to sue former long-time employer Gerald Forsythe.
In the same week as former sparring partner Helio Castroneves appeared in court on tax evasion charges, the Associated Press
reports that former Champ Car champion Tracy is pursuing more than $2.3million via the US District Court in Chicago, after his hopes of contesting this year's unified IndyCar Series were scuppered by Forsythe's decision to withdraw almost as soon as peace had been agreed between the disparate open-wheel factions.
The lawsuit, which was filed late last week, refers to an alleged breach of contract, after Forsythe pulled the plug on a deal with Tracy that had been due to run through to the end of the 2011 season. The Canadian veteran had been with Forsythe since 2002, and twice extended his stay, fully expecting the team to remain in the top flight of US single-seater racing for that time.
Forsythe, however, declined to field a team in the unified IRL series, despite having been a prime mover behind the peace deal, leaving the 'Thrill from West Hill' on the sidelines. Tracy contested just two races, the Champ Car finale at Long Beach and a single IRL event, at Edmonton, in a hastily-arranged deal involving both Vision Racing and Walker Racing.
The 39-year old's complaint claims not only that he is owed $2.25m, plus any bonuses, that he would have been eligible for had he contested the Champ Car schedule in 2008, but also mentions a $1m buy-out clause that would be activated should the Forsythe team cease operation. Tracy insists that he hasn't received payment of any kind since April.
Forsythe continued to operate in the Atlantic Series, which moved from under the umbrella of Champ Car to that of the ALMS, running cars for James Hinchcliffe and David Garza, but has recently been linked to a possible IndyCar entry as many Atlantic teams consider switching their allegiance to the IRL's Firestone Indy Lights category for 2009.