Friday, July 18, 2014

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.

Taking some front wings for a walk
Just off Gasoline Alley, running west from Pit Lane, is the IndyCar Paddock where big rigs and large awnings provide work space for the IndyCar teams as well as the fuel filling tankers. Entrance to the Paddock is extra but it is a good place to see some of the drivers without their helmets and to get a glimpse of the cars as they are in various stages of setup. Canadian Driver James Hinchcliffe of the #27 United Fire and Data team had a team of UFD girls that alone were worth the price of admission.  James says of the race, "it's a track that we have struggled at as a team, it's not been as on as we are at a place like St Pete or Long Beach, but I think we've made good progress over the winter so I'm excited to get out there."
Sunoco fuel trucks
Super Speed Trucks (SST)
IndyCars are tethered to carts and wait in a line up for time to go onto Pit Lane
The course is made up of City of Toronto Municipal roads and the internal Exhibition Place roads and the typical surface is asphalt but there are some sections that have been replaced with concrete. Driving on each surface makes for some driver excitement because the concrete areas are like driving on wet pavement, they are pretty slick. Juan Pablo Montoya of the #2 Hawk Team talks about the track, "There's some big bumps, I think especially into Turn 1 is the place where you really notice the bumps and a little into Turn 8, but apart from that it's pretty good."
Indy Lights - Road to the Indy series cars
UFD 27 Girls

The Toronto Sun Grid Girl contest is scheduled for noon on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at Victory Circle. See photos from my post here. For ladies of the Honda Indy Toronto 2014 see my photos here.

Into the pits

Tony Kanaan in the cockpit

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