Saturday, July 30, 2016

Carnival Grand Parade 2016

Toronto Caribbean Carnival brings the bold colours of Masquerade to Exhibition Place and Lake Shore Boulevard on Saturday, July 30 from 10am to 8pm. Fences along the parade route have been lowered from 10 to 4 feet so it should be easier to take photos of the dancers and floats.
"The Grand Parade continues to attract local, regional, national, and international attention by visitors and media as it is the highlight of the three-week Festival. This event continues to draw millions from all over the world to see the live performing street art year after year and on live streaming. After months of preparation, masqueraders in colourful and striking costumes wind their way from the assembly area at Exhibition Place along Lake Shore Boulevard. Admission applies to Exhibition Place where patrons have the opportunity to enjoy the parade of the Mas Bands. Masquerade bands end up in Exhibition Place where masqueraders can party until 8:00 pm. Guest bands, cultural bands and steel bands also participate in the parade. Guest bands start from the staging area within Exhibition Place and wind their way along Lakeshore Boulevard to disperse west of the Boulevard Club. Steel bands stage on Lakeshore Boulevard south of the All Stream Centre and also proceed along Lakeshore Boulevard to the Boulevard Club."
This is the first year without the sponsorship of Scotiabank (they really did bankroll quite a few community events in Toronto) and it was reported that they have a $2 million shortfall when the bank dropped out. The parade will still go on as they continue to scout out corporate sponsorship.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Celebrate Simcoe Day 2016 in Toronto

City of Toronto attractions like outdoor pools and Riverdale Farm will remain open during the long weekend - Simcoe Day is Monday, August 1. You can also take a bike cab, escape to the Toronto Islands or enjoy the harbourfront. Try to keep off the highways going north because I will be heading up to the Dorset area for the annual Band cottage visit and I want the 400 to myself.

See the city's press release after the jump for the attractions that will be open over the weekend.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Surprised Kitty

And other graffiti from around Toronto.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Honda Indy Toronto 2016 tear down

The roar by the lakeshore is almost a memory as the last of the barriers, fences and grandstands are being taken down in Exhibition Stadium. It has only been two weeks and the removals are going smoothly, remember it takes over a month to put up the track and all the associated stuff.

Traffic barriers are up in turn 5, the corner where a lot of fuss was made regarding the state of the corner's surface. Looking closely you can see where a temporary thin layer of asphalt was spread over the concrete curbs to make a hump and it couldn't take the pounding of a normal roadway.

The roadway in Exhibition Place is a mixture of surfaces, partly because of the concrete foundations that were placed in the middle of the road for the Sky Ride which takes visitors 12.2m high above the CNE grounds, and partly because it is a typical Canadian road. You could repave the thing today and they would have to cut it tomorrow for some reason - repair watermains, install new underground services, you name it, they will cut it. This is the biggest issue for the drivers - accommodating the changing road surface takes some skill, which they do have! 

IndyCar races on Ovals, Road Courses and Street Courses and streets contain manholes, catchbasins, curbs, streetlights and other municipal plant, both above and below ground. In Toronto even the trees along the main the start line are in planters and are removed every year for the running of the Honda Indy. If they want to make it pretty they could always coat the road with some new tar but this is no reason to move the race out of Toronto.
The bridge is still standing
It takes a lot of steel and concrete to setup the Honda Indy Toronto

See more race photos after the jump.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Toronto Festival of Beer 2016

#BeerLove is back in the Big Smoke! 333 beautiful brews return to Bandshell Park in Exhibition Place July 22-24. The annual festival dedicated to local and international breweries provides the ultimate sampling experience for the thousands that take in the weekend event in the heart of summer.
I have my camera and my commemorative 8oz  sample beer stein so I just had to track down some tokens, which wasn't hard, they were selling them at the entrance to the festival (20 for $20). Next track down the beer which also wasn't hard, the Beer Store is making this easy! A 4oz sample is one token, a full 8oz sample is two tokens. Vendors are in small booths or large camps and everything in between. The servers were friendly and helpful as they suggested beers for all tastes and the beer prices were very reasonable, especially when you consider that it is really a music and food festival, with plenty of beer.

This place isn't only beer, they have tasty food and a fantastic lineup of entertainment on the main stage and throughout the park. Sweden is highlighted this year and you can catch top chefs at the Club House LA Grille Grilling Tent.

"Come to Toronto's Festival of Beer for the beer, but stay for the food!" said Les Murray, President of Intelivents, operator of TFOB. "2016 will see more food options than ever before and the Grilling Tent experience will showcase grilling with beer and so much more!"

Couples and groups of friends wandered the large festival area, playing games, socializing or enjoying the many bands playing in several areas of the park. I loved one of the earlier bands Abbamania as they sang some of Sweden's favourite export and the crowd gathered around the main stage at the Bandshell.

Keep tuned as I check out the breweries and keep my eyes out for balls from wayward beer pong games during "Canada's largest summer beer celebration". See more photos after the jump and if summer comes back next year, keep this event in mind.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rogers Cup back in Toronto

World-class tennis returns July 23-31, 2016 with the mens tournaments at Aviva Centre while the women are in Montreal. To promote the event, which is held outside of the downtown core, Canadian Milos Raonic and Toronto Mayor John Tory officially kicked off the Rogers Cup with a game at Nathan Phillips Square on July 21.
The tennis court has been setup in the pond for the past two days as Rogers Cup has a full slate of activities scheduled with clinics, learning how to be a tennis official and ball kid demonstrations, fastest serve contests, tennis circus show performances and open play games.
“Setting up public tennis courts in the host cities is an opportunity to bring Canadians closer to all the tennis action and learn more about the sport at the same time,” said Livia Zufferli, Senior Vice President, Brand, Rogers. “From marquee events and demos to face painting and celebrating grassroots tennis with Mini Rogers Cup matches, these accessible events will give fans the chance play in the heart of the city and take in some of the game’s rising stars.”

Unfortunately a couple of the top players have dropped out of the Toronto competition. Rogers Cup defending Champion Andy Murray will not compete and "Tennis Canada announced Tuesday that world No. 3 Roger Federer and world No. 4 Rafael Nadal have withdrawn from Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Toronto. "I have made the tough decision to withdraw from Rogers Cup,” said Federer. “Toronto is one of my favourite events on the calendar and I am disappointed that I won’t be able to compete in front of the great tennis fans in Canada. Looking ahead, it is best for me that I take more time after Wimbledon. I look forward to coming back to Canada next year and I wish Karl Hale and everyone at Tennis Canada a very successful tournament.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Toronto Festival of #BeerLove this weekend

Cold, golden beverages will flow during the July 22-24 beerlicious event at Bandshell Park in Exhibition Stadium. Summer loving means good beer, good food and good music, luckily the 2016 Toronto Festival of Beer has all three on tap as well as a Beer School. In preparation for the lessons I have begun to do homework in the study of malted beverages taken in the parching heat of July's sun.

General admission tickets include 5 sample tokens and a Commemorative Festival Sampling Cup. Tokens are available on site for $1 each and most 4 oz samples are 1 token with some brewers charging additional for imports and premium brands. Hoptomized tickets are available with more tokens and early access and if you want to go all out there are VIP tickets as well.

Some top Canadian Chefs will join the festival preparing tasty offerings at the Club House La Grille along with renowed Chefs from Sweden - Peter J Skogstrom and Roland Persson in the Sample Sweden pavilion.

"The Festival boasts almost 100 brewers featuring more than 333 beautiful brews from all over the globe. From lagers to stouts, fruit beer to ales, we have something for everyone! The Festival features more than just beer; there are several non-malt based beverages available including cider and ready-to-drink beverages! Our food vendors are all well known Toronto food purveyors creating some great grub for you to enjoy! Whether you’re looking for oysters, poutine, or a burger, you’ll be able to find the perfect thing to satisfy your appetite!"

The Festival music lineup is after the jump.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto 2016

The last day of the MotorFest weekend continues to be full of motor car racing and off track activities.  The grand finale will be the Verizon IndyCar Honda Indy Toronto 2016 race with pre-race beginning at 2:30pm and the green flag dropping for the 22 car field at 3:15pm. I am wearing a photo bib with the number 99 this year (I am at turn 1 beside Prince's Gate in the photo at top)  - see you at the races.

Indy Lights Race #2 winners: Andre Negrao (2nd), Felix Rosenqvist (1st) and Kyle Kaiser (3rd)
Indy Lights, GT3 and Stadium Super Trucks also raced on Sunday.

Track changes this weekend include sand blasting smooth concrete patches in turns 1 and 9 and moving out the wall in turn 8 across from the GO Station.  I am sure the drivers would have liked more room through turns 9 to 11 as well!  The cars also have LED position markers on their cars this year. Races started at 8:25am this morning with the USF2000 series followed by the Pro Mazda cars and a 30 minute IndyCar warm up at 10:30am.
Found out today that the Toronto 2016 Grid Girls will be the Toronto Argonauts Cheerleaders.

Starting the race was Major General Mike Rouleau of the Canadian Forces Special Operations Forces who was the Grand Marshal. During the pre-race ceremonies and driver introductions a group of 300 military reservists from the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force marched on the track to salute the racce fans.

CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron from CFB Bagotville, Quebec, twice performed flybys over the track, flying in the direction from turn 11 to turn 1. “We are so proud to be able to say this special ‘thank you’ to the men and women who serve us all so well,” said Jeff Atkinson, president of the Honda Indy Toronto. “We are thrilled that they are joining us to celebrate 30 years of racing on the streets of Toronto with such an impactful presence.” The General gave the call to start engines at 3:08pm and the cars began to roll out onto the track.
85 laps, 16 caution laps, 6 lead changes and an average speed of 88.739 (fastest lap 105.728) miles per hour were some of the stats of the 2016 Streets of Toronto race. The big stat of course was Will Power in the number 12 car who took top spot with his third win of 2016 and his third time winning in Toronto. Second place was Helio Castroneves in the number 3 car, and in third place was Canadian James Hinclciffe in the number 5 car. This is the best finish for James in Toronto and his 10th time on the podium in his career, he said "As we're coming out of that last restart, I saw everybody in the last section get to their feet and I was just hoping I didn't screw it up."
Will Power climbs out of his car in Victory Circle
Helio Castroneves, Will Power and James Hinchcliffe on the podium

Scott Dixon of the number 9 car started out in the P1 pole position ended up finishing in 8th place. All the top drivers were worried about Tony Kanaan of the number 10 car, he led from lap 60 to lap 75 when he pitted for fuel only, however his wheels weren't in the best shape at the end and he ended up 4th place. All cars in the IndyCar race had to use one set of alternate red tires and primary black tires.

Overall the IndyCar Series point standings has Simon Pagenaud (432 pts), Will Power (385 pts) and Helio Castroneves (358 pts) leading the pack.
During driver introductions they open up pit lane 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday at Honda Indy Toronto 2016

The schedule was full with five races and a number of qualification and practice rounds as the race action started early in the morning of day two. Initial qualification and practice events took place before noon with the first race - a USF2000 race, taking place just shy of midday and the last race starting at 6:15pm. Ps tall boy beers are going for $10.25.
After the heat of the first day, the second day turned a lot more comfortable and Thunder Alley and Speed Zones were filling with people enjoying the activities and vendors in the infield. With all the changes caused by BMO Field and the new hotel, the IndyCar paddock was relocated from the infield to inside the Enercare Centre. Autograph sessions including the IndyCar and Nascar Pinty's Series drivers meeting with fans in the atrium of the Enercare Centre.
The Verizon IndyCar Series qualification was in the afternoon just before race #1 of the Stadium Super Trucks. After the SST truck ramps were taken down and stored for Sunday's second race, the heavy stock cars from Nascar took to the track at 3:45pm for the Pinty's Grand Prix of Toronto. Winning the race was Alex Tagliani followed by Andrew Ranger and Kevin Lacroix.
Alex waves the checkered flag in Victory Circle

Alex finished the 37 lap, 1.786 Mile Pinty's GP of Toronto with a best lap speed of 82.045 miles/hour and leading Andrew by only 0.184 seconds.
Andrew, Alex and Kevin

Tomorrows big race is the Verizon IndyCar Honda Indy Toronto. The pre-race starts at 2:30pm, the call to start their engines goes out at 3:08pm and the green flag drops at 3:15pm. There will be two flyovers of jet fighters during Pre-race. 
Mascot Firehawk
Toronto Argonauts Cheerleaders will be the 2016 Grid Girls
Stadium Super Trucks

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fan Friday at @HondaIndy Toronto

Free admission with a voluntary donation to the Make-A-Wish Canada brought a lot of families into Exhibition Place to enjoy the races as well as Thunder Alley, Speed Zone and Honda World. Today had a lot of practices and qualifying races for the many series, including NASCAR Pinty's Series, Verizon IndyCar Series and the Stadium Super Trucks.
The day was hot and steamy and while it threatened rain, it only spit a bit so it was a nice day to enjoy some cold beverages and watch the races. USF2000 took to the streets first with practice number 1 starting at 8am. The Verizon IndyCar had two practices, one in the morning and one in the afternoon while NASCAR Pinty's Series had one practice in the morning and the qualification in the afternoon at 5pm. NASCAR headlines the Saturday races with the Pinty's Grand Prix of Toronto scheduled from 3:45 to 5:05pm. Andrew Ranger of the 27 car, who has previously won the NASCAR race at the Honda Indy Toronto, captured the pole position.
Verizon IndyCar through turn number 5. Their Chevrolet twin-turbocharged V-6 engine gets these beasts going pretty fast along the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary streets of Toronto track
Saturday, July 16 will have the third practice for the IndyCars starting at 9:45am, followed by an afternoon Qualification at 1:30pm. Their big race is Sunday, July 17 with the pre-race starting at 2:30pm and the green flag dropping on the 85 lap race at 3:15pm.  Josef Newgarden of the number 67 car won the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto and holds the record for this season with the most laps led with 282 in the Iowa Corn 300.
The Stadium Super Trucks (SST) will have a race on Saturday (3pm) and another on Sunday (1:40pm). The course was narrowed through spots in the ripple effects caused by the construction of the new hotel and it gets really tight through turns 9 to 11, especially out of the pits.
From the Big Boy's with Cool Toys area of Thunder Alley

The overall layout of the Honda Indy Toronto, both the track and the associated attractions, have been changing over the years due to the impact of the BMO Field extension, the Hotel X construction and a number of sponsorships changes. As the hotel cut off pit lane, the pits were relocated across the road - cars now come in to the left as opposed to the right. The pit lane begins at turn 9 and into turn 11, it is more curved now than how it used to be in the past, and brought about tighter spots for the crews, as well as narrowed the road and pit lane throughout the series of turns. 

The pit lane entrance also caused the change with the IndyCar and Road to IndyCar Paddocks which have been moved into the Enercare Centre. The new Speed Zone and the re-introduced Thunder Alley moved into the former home of the IndyCar Paddocks while the new NASCAR Pinty's Series Paddock moved into the spot near Hotel X. There is also quite a bit of general admission viewing locations, both along Lake Shore Boulevard West and elsewhere along the track
Canadian IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe takes the pedestrian bridge

See more MotorFest after the jump.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square