Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday at the races - @HondaIndy 2014

Saturday's loss is Sunday's gain as the weekend 2inTO has become 2in1day! Starting early in the morning the typical race of 85 laps or two hours will be reduced to help the drivers and teams survive the grueling Sunday, one-two race combination on the streets of Toronto. Verizon IndyCar series mascot Firehawk gives his two thumbs up (photo at top).  Overall it was an impressive display of racing during the whole weekend and the crowds, from FAN Friday to the last day on Sunday were quite large.
Minor precipitation starting around noon Saturday became a downpour that forced the the series to move the dates of the scheduled race around the 11-turn, 1.75 mile circuit. Sunday weather forecasts unfortunately contain some precipitation described as light rain and isolated which will hopefully hold off until the motorfest and other festivals have finished.
Driver James Hinchcliffe #27 is interviewed by Sportsnet reporter. James finished 8th in the first race.

"Due to inclement weather, the Verizon IndyCar Series postponed its Saturday race one. The Honda Indy Toronto will now hold two Verizon IndyCar Series races on Sunday. The races will both be 65 laps or 80 minutes each, whichever comes first. Race one will take place at 10:30 a.m. and will be a rolling start. Race two will take place at 4:15 p.m. and will be a standing start. This is the first time in the history of the event and in Canada that two INDYCAR races will be held in one day. We will honour all Saturday tickets with a Sunday general admission ticket, and will provide kiosks for these fans at the entry gates. An email will be sent directly to our customer database with further details. Information will also be posted on our social media sites. Gates for the Honda Indy Toronto will open at 8 a.m. We are doing this for our fans. It’s a lot of racing and it’s good racing. Thank you for your patience and continued support."
Indy Lights coming out of turn 3

The day started off really nice even though rain was falling to the west of Toronto, eventually light rain started falling during the second IndyCar race in the late afternoon, however it didn't last too long and the track quickly dried up. Sunday's original schedule was thrown out the window and the entire day was rearranged to accommodate the new one day IndyCar and USF2000 double headers. The IndyCar pre-race ceremony was reduced for race one and the winners at victory circle did not spray any champagne.
Sunday was full slate of events with an Indy Lights race, two Pirelli World Challenge (WC) races pictured above, two USF2000 races, two IndyCar races, the final Stadium Super Trucks (SST) race and the final F1600 race. Off track, the highly anticipated Toronto Sun Grid Girl contest was to take place after the post race #1 IndyCar Victory Circle celebration. There was also a couple of rounds of driver autograph sessions which were held in their team areas in the IndyCar paddock.
IndyCars waiting to enter Pit Lane from Gasoline Alley, looking towards Princes' Gates.
Retired IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti remains with CGRT and provided advice to the team.
Paul Tracy, or the Thrill from West Hill moves from his sports commentator roles and climbs back into a TRAXXAS-sponsored Formula Off-Road Stadium Super Truck. After crashing during his 2013 foray into the high-flying truck series, he joins eight competitors in the race. The four 36 inch jumps provide a surface where trucks blast 20 feet into the air and don't hit ground for a considerable distance. The new time for the trucks jumping is 2:30 pm to 3:00 pm.
"Sheldon Creed, 16, who won one of last year’s two races at Toronto, will drive another TRAXXAS-sponsored SST and will be joined in the field by 2014 series’ winners Apdaly Lopez and Robby Gordon. Series regular Scotty Steele, 16, as well as Nick Vanis and Aaron Baumbach return to the TRAXXAS series along with Bill Hynes who is making his series debut."
Off the track make sure to catch the Toronto Sun Grid Girls who will compete for the title Miss Honda Indy on Sunday, July 20 from noon to 2 pm at Victory Circle. You can also find ladies of the Honda Indy Toronto 2014 on my post here.
Contest judges from UFD

Saturday, July 19, 2014

@HondaIndy #Toronto Sun Grid Girls 2014

Dangerous curves can also be found off the race track at the final day of the 2in1day Verizon IndyCar race. Competing for the title of Miss Honda Indy will be a group of Toronto Sun Grid Girls on Sunday, July 20, 2014. These ladies who will not only help those IndyCar drivers find their cars in the crowded pit lane but they attend official events and parties during the buildup to the contest.

Afterwards the winner will receive money and a crown along with a feature layout in the 2015 Sunshine Girl Calendar.
The UFD team are the Grid Girl judges

Saturday at the races - @HondaIndy 2014

The excitement continues on day two of the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend. The 2inTO has an IndyCar race today and tomorrow so stayed tuned for more photos and coverage of the racing. The weather did not cooperate and the Saturday race was deferred until Sunday where two races are now scheduled. This makes history as the first time the double header will happen on the same day. Saturday's IndyCar practice also allows the drivers to get used to a standing start which will be used in the first race. During Race #1 will happen after two formation laps.
Will Power of the #12 verizon Team Penske car, above, is a former two-time winner on the Streets of Toronto. He is noted as the best IndyCar driver on road courses. As he has noted, you have to finish a race to win and has a series leading streak of running at the finish of each race.

Two qualifying groups for IndyCar are decided by the combined times of the two practice sessions on Saturday. Group one will take to the track first with the pole position awarded to driver with the best overall lap time. The Saturday IndyCar pre-race was scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm with the race to follow at about 3:45 pm. When a pace car spun off due to heavy rain in the initial formation laps before the wave of the green flag, the race was eventually called off. The initial light rain resulted in a race which was to be a timed 85 lap or two hours, whichever came first, before it was shortened to 65 laps and eventually all remaining Saturday events, including the first IndyCar race was cancelled at 6:15 pm.

Drivers were faced with reduced visibility and slick conditions agreed with the postponement but felt disappointment for the fans. Helio Castroneves #3 said "Obviously we all wanted to get the race in today, but this was the correct call. We really tried to start the race but it was clear that we were going to wreck a lot of cars."  Juan Pablo Montoya #2 stated that "I really hate it for the fans. You never want to feel like you cheated them, but you can't control the weather." Race #1 is now scheduled for Sunday, July 20 at 10:30 am with a rolling start. And the second race is now scheduled to follow at 4:15 pm.
The Toronto Sun Grid Girls made appearances throughout the day as they promoted the upcoming contest which is scheduled for Sunday - see my photos of the girls here. For ladies of the Honda Indy Toronto 2014 see my photos here.

Going into race 1 Sebastien Bourdais claimed the first Verizon award of 2014 as he took the pole position, his career 32nd, with Will Power qualifying second and Helio Castronevers qualifying third. Sebastien said that "The track was getting better. It's a bit of a casino race here. Anything can happen." Qualifying for the Verizon P1 award consists of three parts; segment one qualifying with the fastest six cars advancing to segment two.  The fastest six in segment two move into the Firestone Fast Six Shootout with pole position based on their fastest laps. James Hinchliffe #27 had a 9th pole position and last was Marco Andretti #25 at the 23rd pole position.

All the cars have a Dallara IR-12 chasis and use Firestone tires while the engines are either Chevy or Honda. The Chip Ganassi Racing team (CGRT) of Scott Dixon #9 and Tony Kanaan #10 use Chevrolet 2.2 litre twin turbocharged V6 engines in the 2014 season. The engines produce 600 horsepower and almost 300 lb ft of torque.

The major changes at this year's motorsports event was the impact of the new hotel just south of Pit Lane. Not only was construction of the large building impacting the available land but they also excavated a historic foundation which they have to preserve. To accommodate the construction area they had to reduce the exit to pit lane and move the start of pit lane back up into turn 11 near the pedestrian bridge.
Formula 1600 cars coming out of turn 6

Mazda Road to the Indy includes three series, two of them are competing in Toronto - the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.
Starting grid for the Pirelli World Challenge line up at the Direct Energy exit leading to turn 10. Five series races were to take place on Saturday - the Formula 1600, the Pirelli World Challenge, Stadium Super Trucks, IndyCar and USF2000.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ladies of the Honda Indy #Toronto 2014

James Hincliffe has a team of UFD girls with him at the Honda Indy. 

IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe's girlfriend Kirsten Dee

Come back as I add more atmosphere photos. For photos of the Toronto Sun Grid Girls see my post here.

Friday at the races - @HondaIndy 2014

Exhibition Place buzzed like a bee hive as high performance race cars took to the Streets of #Toronto. This is a case where if you don't want to drive long distances to go to the races, the races come to the city. The annual festival of wheels and off track entertainment comes this year in mid summer - July 18-20 and the first day is FAN FRIDAY with free entrance provided by the Honda Dealers of Ontario in support of the Make A Wish Foundation.
Exhibition Place, located near the lake shore, becomes a street course over the course of about a month. One of the last things they do is close down the public street road allowance running from Strachan to BC Place which becomes the Thunder Alley straight-away. Overall the 1.75 mile track has 11 turns, opened in 1986, and the 80 laps, 140 mile double-header race scheduled for Saturday and Sunday (2inTO) are number 13 and 14 of 18 Verizon IndyCar Series 2014 races. Michael Andretti has the record for most wins at the track with seven while Scott Dixon was the winner of both races in 2013 and became the Series Champion for the year.
IndyCars come into turn one from the start/finish line in front of the Direct Energy Centre. Practice #1 went green at 10:03 am and finished at 10:49 am under clear skies with fastest speeds from #67 Josef Newgarden, #12 Will Power and #27 James Hinchcliffe. Top speed was 104.883 mph.
The gates open for the weekend events daily from 7:30 to 8:00 am and the on track schedule is full of practices and qualifications on the Friday opening day with Formula 1600, USF2000, Pirelli World Challenge, Verizon IndyCar Series, Porsche GT, Stadium Super Trucks and Indy Lights series.

Entrance to the race is possible from just two places - just north of Princes' Gates and into the Direct Energy Centre and also from the Ontario Place bride int he middle of Lake Shore Boulevard.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

@HondaIndy #Toronto 2014 ready for racing

Equipment sits ready on pit row, the barriers and bleachers are waiting for the opening of the gates and the cars are sitting in the paddocks for the July 18-20 Verizon IndyCar double header race weekend. The big change this year is the extensive construction of the hotel between Lake Shore Boulevard and the Direct Energy Centre. It has reduced the size of pit out and scuttled one of the grandstands, but one day guests of the hotel are going to have a great view of action at the Exhibition Place street course.

Looking across the finish line to the hotel being built

Charlie Johnstone recommends using public transit to get to the site. "Under the circumstances, we would encourage all our guests visiting the Honda Indy Toronto this summer to continue using public transit. The track is very well serviced by both TTC and GO Transit, each of which have stops directly at Exhibition Place. These will certainly be the most convenient ways to get to and from the track."
The Direct Energy Centre contains Motorfest which includes the Accura Sports Car Challenge and support series paddocks. There are some pretty sweet sports cars ready to hit the track inside.
Friday, July 18 on track action has practice sessions and some later in the day qualifications, which are free to watch as part of FAN FRIDAY courtesy of the Honda Dealers of Ontario, start at 8:05 in the morning with the Formula 1600 cars and continues up till 6:20pm with the USF2000 cars. In between will be drivers in the Pireli World Challenge, Verizon IndyCar Series, Porsche GT, Stadium Super Trucks and Indy Lights.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

@ContactPhoto at Berczy Park

'Looking Through Outside' from the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival's public installation in the park has a photo of a tiny bird seen from a windowpane. Several other pieces are spread around the green space so you can enjoy the green tables and chairs, watch the bubbling fountain and get your culture on.
"Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is an annual event in May with well over 1500 Canadian and international artists and photographers exhibiting at more than 175 venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Founded as a not-for-profit organization in 1997 and now a charitable organization, the Festival is devoted to celebrating, and fostering the art and profession of photography, through a diverse range of programmes."

'Flock of a Feather'
The art mural on the backside of the Gooderham flatiron building

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Honda Indy Toronto 2014 this weekend

Final preparations for the racetrack, grandstands and festivals are coming down to the wire as the Verizon IndyCar double header 2inTO which takes place July 18-20. Ryan Merchant, Sebu Simonia and Tim Warmels have been announced as Grand Marshals for the race.
"We are honoured to have Capital Cities and Tim Warmels as the grand marshals for our event," said Charlie Johnstone, President of the Honda Indy Toronto. "Each member of talent our roster enjoys international recognition and respect, and we are thrilled to have them involved in Ontario's largest sporting event to make the famous call."
The Canadian National Anthem will we sung by Danny Fernandes on Saturday and opera singer Douglas Tranquada on Sunday. Danny is a multi-MMVA winner. Opening ceremonies will start at 3 pm for both days and will include a parade lap with Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Natalie Spooner & Meaghan Mikkelson from the Women's Canadian Olympic Hockey Team and current competitors on the Amazing Race Canada.
FAN FRIDAY continues in 2014 as the Ontario Honda Dealers, in support of Make-A-Wish Canada will cover the admission cost on Friday, July 18 for people to check out the action on the track, stunt shows, contests, autograph sessions and other entertainment. The off track excitement includes motor fest, taste fest, craft beer fest, adrenalin fest, celebration fest and indy fest.

Other Honda Indy Toronto events include the introduction of the driver Scott Dixon, winner of the both the 2013 races, will attend the unveiling of the Waterford Crystal championship trophies at William Ashley at 55 Bloor St West between 5-7 pm on Wednesday, July 16. The trophies were designed and produced in Ireland for the Toronto races. On Thursday, July 17 Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe will visit the Hospital for Sick Children with Racing For Kids reps and Cooper Tires USF2000 driver Scott Hargrove to spend time with young patients. The Official Drivers' Party is open to the public and will be held at Hunter's Landing at 82 Fort York Blvd on Friday, July 18 beginning at 6 pm and with the red carpet introductions at 8 pm followed with partying with drivers, sponsors and special guests. Satuday, July 19 brings a photo op from 12:30 to 1pm with Sarah Fisher, former Degrassi TV star and, driver and owner of the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
2014 Festival map

The City of Toronto has released information regarding the road closures associated with the race course setup during the Honda Indy weekend: "On Wednesday, July 16 at noon, Strachan Avenue from Lake Shore Boulevard to Fleet Street will be closed. Later that same day, as of 9 p.m., Lake Shore Boulevard from Strachan Avenue to British Columbia Drive will be closed. Both closures are in effect until Sunday, July 20 at 11:59 p.m. There will be no eastbound or westbound traffic during this closure. The only available access to Ontario Place will be from Lake Shore Boulevard at the foot of Strachan Avenue."

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