The 2011 Honda Indy Toronto marked the 25th anniversary of the historic race on the shore of Lake Ontario. There have been high and low points along the way and this year’s event brought an unprecedented level of emotion for the competitors of just about every series. That emotion turned into heated exchanges both on track and off. In other words, the action was hot and heavy and was just what the fans wanted!
The home grown action came in the form of the Castrol Canadian touring Car Championship, where competitors battle it out in production cars not unlike the machines many of us drive to work every day. “battle it out” is a good way to describe the action, as many cars looked like wrecking yard rejects by the end of the weekend.
People are funny in that they always want to point out the negative side of anything anyone else has done. Nowhere is that attitude more prevalent than in the coverage of motorsports events. This past weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto was by no means an exception to this. Sometimes I think that some people want to see the event fail. From what I saw, the event is well on pace to have a revival of its glory days.
Part of what made the old Molson Indy such a huge part of the Toronto summer scene was the fact that there were all kinds of events that drew the public in and got them wrapped up in the hype. This year, organizer Charlie Johnstone’s team planned a full schedule of fun functions around the city in the weeks leading up to race weekend. These activities were capped off with free admission on Friday to re-introduce Toronto to the Indy.
Back in the Molson Indy days, the Toronto Indy pretty much took over the city with parties and events. There was a buzz everywhere and just about everyone was talking about the Indy. Charlie Johnstone and the rest of the Honda Indy Toronto team have planned a week full of activities to build that buzz once again.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s edition of the Honda Indy Toronto is clearly setting a new bar in Canada in terms of on and off-track entertainment,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Charlie Johnstone, general manager and vice president of Honda Indy Toronto. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The combination of athletes, cars, music and loads of interactive activities is second to none.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The action begins today at noon at Toronto’s exciting Yonge – Dundas Square with the Honda Canada Media Pit Stop Challenge. Members of local media will battle for bragging rights as the fastest tire changing crew. Paul Tracy will be on hand from 12 to 1 pm.
At 5 pm, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Autograph Session takes over Yonge-Dundas Square. Fans can meet all the series drivers including JR Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ranger, Jason Bowles and OntarioÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Caitlin Johnston.
The Andretti family loves Toronto. They love this town and our annual race so much that Andretti Green bought the rights to the dormant Indy race here in T-Dot and have re-branded it as the Honda Indy Toronto. Praises be to whatever omnipotent being you worship, as we now have people running the show that love Toronto, love racing in Toronto and actually have the business sense to ensure that this event stays in our fair city. Enough of my soap box praise, lets get on with the fun stuff!
Indy week in Toronto has always been known for lots of fun events and 2009 is starting with a rodeo of sorts. Michael Andretti will be at the south east corner of Bay & Dundas tomorrow along with a giant, bucking razor. The mechanical bull come shaving device will be on hand from 7 am till 2 courtesy of Shick, while Mikey will be meeting fans, armed with a Sharpie from 11 to 12:45.
On the Thursday evening prior to the race (July 9), the track will shut down for a special charity event. Drivers and celebrities will lead fans around the track on a 3 km walk, 6 km run in support of Shoot For A Cure Moto-Sport and the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation as they unite to find a cure for paralysis. This will be a good opportunity generate funds for the charity while also giving fans a chance to get up close and personal with the stars.
633 photos yesterday and who knows how many today! I’m on my way out again to the Steelback Grand Prix. In the above shot, Katherine Legge cools down.
If you’ve never been to a professional level race, you owe it to yourself to visit one. There really is nothing like the sights, sounds and smells of car racing. Maybe the best event of all time is the annual Champ Car World Series visit to the Toronto waterfront. While the event is easily the favorite race of most teams, it might be one of the best for fans as well.