The 2018 Honda Indy Toronto weekend racing festival is upon us. Lake Shore Blvd. West around Exhibition Place will be closed to traffic Wednesday night at 9 p.m. (although the shutdown could start as early as 8). The final track build will take place overnight Wednesday into Thursday and then practice for all cars will start Friday morning. The Honda Indy track is an 11-turn, 2.874K (1.786-mile) temporary street course. The race will be 85 laps or 244.315 kilometres (151.81 miles) long. The lakeshore will reopen on Sunday night at 11 p.m.
Here are the Top Ten things you should know about the Honda Indy.
is celebrating its 10th year as the title sponsor of this marquee summer event and they have a host of activities planned, including racing simulators in Honda World and a golf practice swing zone, Toronto Blue Jays baseball batting cage, hockey slap shot zone, face painting and free popcorn in the Honda Speed Zone in Thunder Alley.
will be in the 30s Celsius (90s Fahrenheit) but the Honda Indy has an ace-in-the-hole: the Enercare Centre. Located right beside the main straightaway (driver’s left), it is air-conditioned. So drink plenty of fluids – water, preferably – and if you find yourself or your family overheating, just go into the centre and cool off. And the IndyCar paddock is in there, so you will be able to see the transporters, racing cars and maybe even some of the drivers. A pass is required to get inside the paddock but you can see plenty from outside. Oh, and the washrooms in the Enercare Centre are clean and well-kept.
Gates for Fan Friday
will open July 13 at 8 a.m. (or a little before), just in time for the first practice session featuring the Pro Mazda Series. The series leader is Parker Thompson of Red Deer, Alta. If he can maintain the momentum and can get the funding, he’s a cinch to race in IndyCar someday. The cars and stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series will take to the Exhibition Place track at 10:40 a.m. to be followed by the NASCAR Canada Pinty’s Series stock cars at 11:40. There is no admission fee on Fan Friday but a donation to Make-A-Wish Canada is encouraged. The day is sponsored by the Honda Dealers of Ontario. And good for them.
The first Toronto Indy,
then known as the Molson Indy, took place in July, 1986. So many people tried to buy tickets that organizers had to limit attendance. The race was won by Bobby Rahal, whose team – Rahal Letterman (yes, that`s the David Letterman) Lanigan Racing – continues to enjoy success today with Takuma Sato and Bobby’s son, Graham, doing the driving. This year`s Honda Indy will be the 32nd through the streets of Exhibition Place.
There are ten
count ’em, 10, races scheduled to be held during the Honda Indy Toronto festival weekend. The Mazda Road to Indy series – USFormula 2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights – will each race twice as will the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series. The Saturday headline race will feature the NASCAR Pinty`s Series stock cars in the Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto and Sunday`s main event, of course, will be the Honda Indy Toronto. Don’t forget your ear plugs. It can get loud in there. . .
will be on track each day starting at 8 a.m. and continue till nearly 6 p.m. both Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14. On Sunday, July 15, which is Honda Indy Day, on-track activity won`t start until 9:05 a.m. and the big race, the Honda Indy Toronto, won`t get the green flag till 3:35 in the afternoon. Something about television . . .
Although the Honda Indy Toronto
weekend is a tribute to the internal combustion engine, the best way to get to and from Exhibition Place is by bus, streetcar, subway and GO train. The TTC and GO trains – both east and westbound – stop at Exhibition and there`s an easy entrance at Gate 2. GO often runs extra trains to and from the Ex, particularly on Race Day. You can drive, of course, but Lake Shore Blvd. West Is closed to traffic and parking is limited in the vicinity of Exhibition Place.
Even if it rains (please, no),
event organizers will endeavour to complete the program. Racing cars have special rain tires and are able to handle the elements. If it looks like rain, bring rain gear. On occasion, there could be delays; if there is a monsoon, it`s possible the race or races could be cancelled. But usually, the races are run to the finish.
Here`s a hint: even if it doesn’t look like rain, but there`s rain in the forecast, be prepared. But you don’t have to take a raincoat with you, or lug around an umbrella all day. Just stuff a green garbage bag into your pocket or purse. In a pinch, poke a hole in the bottom and pull it over your head. And you`re likely going to have a baseball cap anyway, to keep the sun off your face, so with the cap and the garbage bag, you should be able to survive a shower with little or no difficulty.
The Verizon IndyCar Series champion has been the same driver as the winner of the Honda Indy Toronto five of the last nine years. This means that if you win the Honda Indy, you stand a very good chance of being series champion. Dario Franchitti (2009 and 2011), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012), Scott Dixon (2013) and Josef Newgarden (2017) won in Toronto and won the title. When CART or Champ Car sanctioned the race, seven other drivers were champion the year they won in Toronto: Bobby Rahal (1986), Al Unser Jr. (1990), Michael Andretti (1991), Alex Zanardi (1998), Christiano da Matta (2002), Paul Tracy (2003) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004).
Four women have raced in the Honda Indy – Danica Patrick, Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro. Danica has the best finish – sixth – which she achieved not once but twice, in 2009 and ’10. Danica and Ana Beatriz are retired; Legge drives in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and de Silvestro is racing in Australia.
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