The car driven by Spencer Pigot hits the wall in the first turn during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirk DeBrunner)
We’re a week away from auto racing’s most incredible day of the year — the Grand Prix of Monaco, the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t lots happening this Victoria Day weekend.
At Indianapolis, qualifying for pole position will take place Saturday and Sunday and all bets are off so far as predicting who will lead the other 32 drivers down to the green flag around the noon hour a week from Sunday.
The two Canadians in the field (and there were only 33 entries, so everybody entered will start) are James Hinchcliffe of Oakville and Alex Tagliani of Montreal. “Hinch” is back from his devastating injury of a year ago and, in fact, finished third in an IndyCar Series race a week ago. He told me Thursday that his team, Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports, had started to find speed in the car and that he expected everything to be dialed in time for qualifying.
Tagliani, of course, is the only Canadian to date to win an Indy 500 pole and he reports he’s feeling confident of a good run in his A.J. Foyt Racing car.
You can watch Indy qualifying Saturday at 4 p.m. on Sportsnet 360 and again on Sunday, same time, same channel. If by some chance you can’t get Sportsnet 360, ABC will also be covering the action starting at 4 p.m. both days.
NASCAR has the trucks running on track at Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday and then Saturday it’s the annual All-Star Race. Of course, NASCAR just doesn’t have a race; it’s got to have an extravaganza so Friday at 7 on TSN2 you can watch the All-Star Showdown, which is composed of two sprint races to add drivers to the actual race on Saturday. Then, fan voting will add two more. This “showdown” will be followed at 8:30 on FOX Sports Racing by the Camping World Series truck race.
Saturday evening, qualifying for the All-Star race will come on TSN at 7 p.m. with the race itself getting the green around 9.
For all you drag racing fans out there, the NHRA Kansas Nationals can be seen on FSR Sunday, starting at 2 p.m.
Oh, talking about drag racing, Toronto Motorsports Park outside Catyuga, Ont., has got an outstanding lineup of entertainment this weekend at their historic quarter-mile drag strip. The show will be headlined by the fire-belching Northern Warrior and Terminator Jet Dragsters. On top of that they’ve got the incomparable sights and sounds of the Pro Mods, Alcohol Funny Cars and Top Sportsman and Top Dragster competitors who will all duke it for bragging rights. For information about ticket prices, camping and so-on, go to www.torontomotorsportspark.com
Meantime, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Castrol presents the Victoria Day SpeedFest Weekend will also get under way on Friday. The headline event on Sunday will be the first race of the 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series season, the Clarington 200.
The opening race in Canada’s only national racing series will see a mix of veterans such as D.J. Kennington, L.P. Domoulin and Andrew Ranger and young guns like Matthew Scannell, Kevin Lacroix, Cayden Lapcevich and Gary Klutt going at it on CTMP’s famous Grand Prix course.
There are a number of other races scheduled. The Pirelli World Challenge will have eight classes (GT/GTA/GT Cup/GTS/Spring-X GT/TC/TCA/TCB) competing in eight races. The Series will showcase many of the top makes: Acura, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Honda, Ferrari, Porsche, Nissan, Viper, and many more. Canadians running in the GT classes include Barrie native Kyle Marcelli, Anthony Mantella of Toronto and Huntsville’s Martin Barkey.
The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama is entering its sixth season of producing intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and fast-rising professional drivers. The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned championship is one of 20 global Porsche single-make Cup racing series and is a platform for drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Of interest this weekend will be an appearance in a car of Scott Hargrove of Vancouver, who is competing this year in the Indy Lights series as well as the GT3 Cup. After the weekend, Hargrove will head back to Indianapolis to drive in the Freedom 100 Indy Lights feature race next Friday as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway prepares for the 100th running of the Indy 500 two days later.
Meantime, Canada’s top sedan road-racing series, the Canadian Touring Car Championship, will make its first of two stops at CTMP in 2016, boasting a field of more than 30 cars, competing in four distinct classes, Super Touring, Touring, Grand Touring and B-Spec. This will be a doubleheader weekend for the Championship.
For information on admission, camping and so-on, go to www.canadiantiremotorsportpark.com . One extra thing, though. For spectators who like a little luxury while attending the races, the Grand Prix Club is offering a VIP hospitality package that includes a BBQ lunch, beverages and bar service (beer and wine) on Sunday. The GP Club Chalet tent is located trackside overlooking the start/finish straight and Corner One. Passes are $150 apiece and are also good for admission to the event on Friday and Saturday.
GTA-area speedways – Flamboro, Brighton, Merrittville, Sunset, et al. — all have special shows on offer and I suggest you go to the track websites for all the pertinent information.
Before I go — and have a great weekend, everybody (I’ll be at CTMP but I wish I could be everywhere) — here is this sponsor announcement received from Jamie Hakonson of the Team 3 Red/Ed Hakonson Racing team who advises that DSI Services of Timmins, Ont., has signed on as a sponsor for the 2016 season.
DSI Services specializes in commercial and industrial heavy duty cleaning, non-destructive excavation, coating removal and application, landfill and waste-disposal management, high pressure washing, industrial vacuuming, hydro-excavation and hot water thawing and steaming.
“We are looking forward to starting the season with Jason and the Team” said DSI’s Maurice Duguay Jr. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for all our team to relax and watch someone else clean-up.”
“Having DSI with us each week gives us an opportunity to support a wonderful company. They are great at what they do and we look forward to helping create a larger awareness of them and what they can do,” said team owner and Timmins native Ed Hakonson.
Have a great long weekend, everybody!