Saturday, March 16, 2019

Toronto March Break Comicon 2019

Superheroes abound at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre during March Break as an early Spring Comicon comes to town. For $35 (Saturday's price at the door) you can wander the packed South building looking for comics or other merch while a great many people are dressed up like their favourite characters. As always the cosplay is excellent.

From Friday to Sunday, March 15-17, 2019 the show hours for Saturday are 10am-7pm and Sunday are 10am-5pm.

See more cosplay after the jump.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

#Shazam Fan Experience in Toronto

Preparations are underway in Yonge-Dundas Square for fans of the new superhero movie Shazam. The event starts at 4pm on Thursday, March 14 and you can meet stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer and directory David Sandberg. Oh and City of Toronto Mayor John Tory will also be there.
"We are excited to put a spotlight on the many special things that film productions give back to our neighbourhoods. I encourage Torontonians to check out the free activation on March 14 and 15, and to celebrate productions like Shazam! that draw on the incredible artistic and technical talent our city has to offer."
- Mayor John Tory

The movie was filmed in Toronto and opens April 5, 2019. Get SHAZAMFIED and have a chance to win passes and other prizes.

"Using actual sets and props from production of the Shazam! superhero film (based on the comic book character of the same name and shot in Toronto), fans will be able to enter through a massive, 20-foot-tall (six-metre) lightning bolt and immerse themselves in two key moments from the film.

On Thursday, March 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Friday, March 15 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., fans will be able to "ride" on a subway car resembling the TTC subway and hop off to enter the mysterious Rock of Eternity for their chance to hold the epic Wizard Staff and become Shazamified! Participants will receive a complimentary video of their experience, as well as screening passes and other exclusive prizes."

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Meet the media at Motorama 2019

The last day of the weekend Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo has always been my favourite because of the media panel full of Hall of Fame journalists that discuss various issues affecting the state of racing in Canada and Internationally. Eight professional media personnel met on the Rust-Oleum stage in Hall 2 on Sunday, March 10th between 11:30am and 1:00pm - Bryce Turner, Erik Tomas (Raceline Radio Network), Norris McDonald (Toronto Star), Todd Lewis (broadcaster), Mike Garrow (MAVTV Canada), James Neilson and Wally Nesbit (Inside Track Motorsport News) along with Tim Miller (Hamilton Spectator). Todd looks on as Norris takes to the microphone in the photo at top.
Left to right; Bryce, Erik (Hall of Fame), Norris (Hall of Fame), Todd, Mike, James, Tim (Hall of Fame) and Wally

Usually every year the various media members bemoan the declining state of newspaper and magazines, suggesting that companies need to sponsor all manner of racing teams or series to spread success onto new generations of fans. The accelerating loss of mainstream media continues but it did not take up much time with the panel, they instead talked about the move to streaming on every manner of platforms - away from major networks or standard cable tv packages. A lot of sports, motorsports included, have a niche market where viewers will have to seek out viewing options and pay extra for the pleasure of watching their favourite series - if they are even available. Wally Nesbitt acknowledge that Inside Track Motorsports News is also available online as a digital copy and some of their features, like race standings, are only posted online.

Senior member of the panel - Norris McDonald, who was the former editor of Toronto Star Wheels and the associated online presence, brought up the latest burning issue, that of the almost loss of IndyCar broadcasting in Canada for 2019. Apparently the television coverage ended in 2018 and IndyCar wasn't the party that typically looked after renewals. IndyCar had to setup their own media branch to sell the broadcast rights in Canada and did not find a suitor that wanted to take on the whole 2019 season for television. They decided on Sportsnet whom would show only the Indy 500 and the Honda Indy Toronto on tv, the balance of the season would be pushed online to a premium streaming service; Sportsnet NOW+. The concern is that without free television, or really just part of your paid cable subscription service, that the interest in IndyCar could drop in the barely visible land north of the United States of America (as in we are not very important to America in the general scheme of things).

Todd Lewis noted that broadcasters have to know of a demand and suggests that people provide feedback about their viewing requirements to their carriers. Due to these type of contacts Sportsnet has agreed to stream the first IndyCar race for free (Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg which Josef Newgarden won followed by Scott Dixon and Will Power).

The future of television really is the future of streaming. Costs will increase as the bulk purchasing power through many eyeballs is diluted by the power of the internet and we have to buy more niche programming. While it seems that sports is a sure bet for niche marketing, it will also fall to normal television programming as markets are fragmented. Time to use Neflix, Apple TV, Crave TV, etc in place of a single cable tv package. It will be interesting to see if we will get into pay-per-view for each race, or series we want to watch as opposed to a yearly or monthly subscription fee. But we will be able to watch what we want, when we want and on the devices we want.

Bryce Turner pointed out that several drivers are coming back to full time racing due to sponsors stepping up to get the teams back on the track. Two recent examples are Jason Hathaway and Mark Dilley who will join the field in the upcoming NASCAR Pinty's Series stockcar 2019 racing season.

Some other topics of interest included the following.

1. Importance of eSports and virtual racing. Viewers will be able to see actual races from the drivers viewpoint and through online gaming.
2. Canada now has an F1 team with driver Lance Stroll.
3. NASCAR Pinty's Series will have a new tire starting this year from General Tire replacing Goodyear tires.
4. The move to hybrid and electric race cars away from the combustion engines (20 plus years).

And don't forget all the great vehicles taking part in Motorama 2019! See more of the cars (and the model) after the jump.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

NASCAR Pinty's Series at Motorama 2019

It was a big day for NASCAR Pinty's Series stockcar racing at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo on Saturday, March 9 as driver Mark Dilley unveiled his No. 64 car (above) and announced his return to full-time racing, Jason Hathaway was also at the show and he also returns to a full time slot after missing two seasons. Driver and former Champion Andrew Ranger of the No. 27 car was also meeting fans and signing autographs at the MOPAR booth. Tomorrow (Sunday, March 10) you can the NASCAR Pinty's drivers at the Driver Q&A session on the Rust-Oleum Stage from 12:30pm-1:30pm. You can find the 2019 NASCAR Pinty's Series schedule on my post here and don't forget that they will be racing in Toronto during the 2019 Honda Indy in Exhibition Place.

“I was No.64 when I started racing back in ’83, I ran No.64 up until 2004. Then after 21 years I changed it to No.9 for the Dodge folk, and then when Kerry and I ran the No.02” said Dilley. “NASCAR racing is something I’ve always wanted to get back to, and I missed the No.64, so I’m hoping it’ll bring us some luck in the future.”

For Hathaway, who took off time to be with family: “I still have the competitiveness burning inside of me to win races in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. I know I can get the job done in the seat and with my team. We are a close group of hard-working guys and we all decided it was time for us to run full time together again.” Said Hathaway from the Team’s Stouffville, Ontario based shop.

Driver Andrew Ranger gives the thumbs up
The fifth annual Motorama Show continues all weekend long from March 8-10 at the Toronto International Centre and parking is free at the Conference Centre located at Airport and Derry Roads. On Sunday the show takes place in Halls 1-4 starting at 10am and finishing at 5pm. There are several other professional racing series at the show with representation from CASC-Ontario Region, OSCAAR and Porsche Canada.

There are plenty of cars at the show and of many varieties such as drag cars, hot rods, custom cars, modified cars and a corral full of mustangs.

SEMA and Star Builders on the Rust-Oleum stage talk about custom building
Spring Fever: Modified Cars and Culture

Sugar Shack TO

"Winter just got a little sweeter on Toronto's waterfront" as the outdoor winter festival presented by Redpath Sugar is on at Sherbourne Common March 9-10, 2019. The sun was shining down on the fun as people lined up for Ontario Maple Taffy at the Sugar Shacks ($2 a sample pictured at top, go to the back one as the lineup is smaller). Hours of operation are from 11am to 5pm all weekend and entrance to the family friendly event is free.
Battle of the Chainsaws had ice carvers competing head to head in front of large crowds
Entertainment at the event included an obstacle course, music, battle of the chainsaws, tic-tack-toe, shuffleboard, building blocks and a skating rink (bring your own skates). There were also a number of vendors along the outdoor marketplace.
Sugaring demonstration

The licensed area featured a sugaring demonstration and they were giving out samples of the sugary sap as it was being turned into syrup, it also doubled as a warming station as the firewood burned hot to boil the sap. The Redpath Sugar booth had a few games and was giving out samples of cookies.

See more of the festival after the jump.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Motorama Expo 2019 opening day

Cars so beautiful and twice as fast as your dad's SUV are at the 5th annual Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo. Taking place all weekend long March 8-10 at the Toronto International Centre.

Filling four giant halls are racing cars, Spring Fever modifieds, mustangs, hotrods and plenty of custom vehicles to help you get ready for summer fun on four wheels. If you really want excitement you will have to try to talk Rick Kopp into lending you his 'Bone Shaker' jet truck for the daily commute.

Hall 4 is home to Motorama Mayhem.....In the Backroom with an entertainment stage and a Miss Motorama Pinup Pageant scheduled for Saturday.
Hall two has the Rust-Oleum stage and the autograph booth where Tom Smith from the reality TV series 'Misfit Garage' is already meeting fans and signing photos. Tom will be here all weekend along with other celebrities.

Up on stage you can drop by for a full slate of talks, panels and promotions throughout the weekend, including a drag racing panel, meet some custom builders, see Short track champions, meet the media experts, ask questions at the Nascar Pinty's Series Q&A.

Inside Track is the official publication of the 2019 Motorama show and you can pick up some free copies or take out a subscription to the quality Canadian racing magazine.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Summer @HondaIndy Toronto 2019

During the hopefully final extreme cold blast of winter we can look forward to summertime fun at the 2019 Honda Indy Toronto. The headlining, open wheel NTT IndyCar Series starts the season this weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg from March 8 to 10, so they will be at top form when they hit the road in Exhibition Place July 10 to 14.

Joining IndyCar on the 11-turn, 1.786 mile road circuit which winds through the home of the Canadian National Exhibition and onto Lake Shore Boulevard will also be the NASCAR Pinty's Series stock cars, the Road to Indy Series and the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge. Booyah. Plus the off-track festivals, the paddocks and of course Thunder Alley.

And who could forget the Budweiser Pit Crew contest from past year's excitement - after the jump.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

March Break Toronto Comicon 2019 coming

Fans of cosplay and comics will soon welcome the March Break Comicon from March 15-17 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Take time to check out the cosplay meetups on the red carpet for the Marvel Universe, Star Wars and DC Universe. There will also be a live sword fighting demonstration in the family zone stage.

Show Hours - Fri: 4:00PM - 9:00PM, Sat: 10:00AM - 7:00PM, Sun: 10:00AM - 5:00PM

Photos by Joe Hamilton

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square