Wednesday, September 13, 2017

17-Year-Old Paul Tracy Grabs Can-Am Pole - September 13th, 1986

Mosport - September 13th, 1986
17-year-old up and coming star Paul Tracy, wasted little time in grabbing the attention of a field of veteran Can-Am drivers. After being forced to sit out his scheduled testing the day before, the eager teenager quickly found the pace and left the track that evening with the pole position locked up.

After a typical September rain, the cautious team owner Horst Kroll forced the eager young driver to sit the day before. Taking the car around the track himself for 4 laps and satisfied with the performance, Kroll turn it over to Tracy.

Calm and experienced, Kroll had driven Mosport many times over his 25-year career. With Tracy having only one session to adjust to the bigger car and some 400 plus horsepower over his regular F-2000 ride, Kroll felt it necessary to help the young driver. In Krolls own words "Paul, I would like you to drive behind me and we'll get faster every lap" Kroll was aware of Tracy's reputation for on-track aggression, but was shocked when the young driver showed he was more than ready for the challenge. After a few laps Kroll decided "Goodbye Paul, I put my foot in it and do a lap, I look in my mirror and this kid is behind me" Say's Horst "Every time I stepped it up a notch the kid was still in my mirror. I could not shake him. I knew then and there he had talent."

After satisfying results with Paul edging Horst for the pole, however the Kroll Racing team were in for a busy night. On the closing laps of Saturday qualifying, a strong crosswind spun Kroll into a guardrail between corners 8 and 9 and the car facing the track. Horst jumped out of the car just in time to watch a hard charging Tracy slam into it, sending the crew back to Kroll's shop for a long night and two cars to repair. To be continued.

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