Monday, September 25, 2023

2024 IndyCar Series schedule released including Toronto in July

The new IndyCar schedule has the return of the Honda Indy Toronto in Exhibition Place on Sunday, July 21, 2024, part of the IndyCar's 17-race season. Toronto's race weekend would start with Fan Friday on the 19th and continue to the headline race on the 21st. Canada is part of IndyCar's summer heat session with four races in July! I will also review the issues with the race in 2025 and beyond in Exhibition Place. Note: Feb 14, 2024 - the Nashville Finale has been moved from the streets of Nashville to the Nashville Superspeedway.

From IndyCar; "The 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opens Sunday, March 10 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, for the 20th Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. North America’s premier open-wheel series will crisscross the United States, including a stop for the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26, before all roads lead to Nashville for an unforgettable championship finale Sunday, Sept. 15 down the heart of the city’s entertainment district and honky tonk row, where the 2024 champion will be crowned for the first time."

“The upward trajectory of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is reflected through the 2024 schedule,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “With stops at premier and global entertainment districts, classic American road courses and thrilling, high-speed ovals, the 2024 season will be exhilarating and highly competitive from beginning to end."

2024 NTT IndyCar Series Schedule

Sunday, March 10 - Streets of St. Petersburg: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Sunday, March 24 - The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge (non-points event) $1 Million Challenge

Sunday, April 21 - Streets of Long Beach: Grand Prix of Long Beach

Sunday, April 28 - Barber Motorsports Park: Grand Prix of Alabama

Saturday, May 11 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course): Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Saturday, May 18 - Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day 1

Sunday, May 19 - Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day 2

Sunday, May 26 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval): Indianapolis 500

Sunday, June 2 - Streets of Detroit: Grand Prix of Detroit

Sunday, June 9 - Road America: Grand Prix of Road America

Sunday, June 23 - WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca: Grand Prix of Monterey

Sunday, July 7 - Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course: Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio

Saturday, July 13 - Iowa Speedway Race 1: Grand Prix of Iowa Race 1

Sunday, July 14 - Iowa Speedway Race 2: Grand Prix of Iowa Race 2

Sunday, July 21 - Streets of Toronto: Grand Prix of Toronto

Saturday, Aug. 17 - World Wide Technology Raceway: Grand Prix of Illinois

Sunday, Aug. 25 - Portland International Raceway: Grand Prix of Portland

Saturday, Aug. 31 - Milwaukee Mile Race 1: Grand Prix of Milwaukee Race 1

Sunday, Sept. 1 - Milwaukee Mile Race 2: Grand Prix of Milwaukee Race 2

Sunday, Sept. 15 - Nashville Superspeedway: Grand Prix of Nashville

The 2024 11-turn, temporary street circuit through Exhibition Place and out onto Lake Shore Boulevard will be the 36th year of the Toronto race which has already raised over $1 million dollars for charity during the Fan Friday support of  Make-A-Wish Canada.

Exhibition Place had previously provided a 3-year contract to race owners and operators Green Savoree Toronto, ULC which ran from 2021 to 2023. Both parties recently signed a new contract with a period of only one year - from January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2024. The difficulty with extending the contract duration beyond 2024 is the extensive work that is required to take place in and around Exhibition Place - work that is associated with the Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation, the Ontario Line subway construction works (Civil works 2023-2027), the Dufferin Street bridge replacements (2024-2028), the construction of an additional hotel and esports venue (Phase 2 expansion by Hotel X facility) located along Lake Shore Boulevard and adjacent to the historic Stanley Barracks (with a completion of mid-2025?) as well as the BMO Field seating expansion and hosting some of soccer's FIFA World Cup 2026 games at BMO Field.

An additional 17,756 seats will be added to the existing BMO Field on both the north and south sides of the field, making two levels of seats around the entire stadium. FIFA is also granted exclusive use of Exhibition Place from May to July 2026 which is typically the period when Honda Indy Toronto takes place. The plans for the expansion should be completed by May of 2024 and construction would start shortly afterwards with completion in two years to be ready for the World Cup games in 2026.

Hopefully Honda Indy Toronto will be able to negotiate the time and location for IndyCar and supporting series racing to continue in the city from 2025.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Laser Clinics launch at Union Station

Laser Clinics Canada launched in Union Station today, one of over 200 global locations, and now six in Canada, of the Australian-based group. Media gathered in the York Carriageway under the glass archway running along Front Street to watch the introductions. On hand to begin the launch was Laser Clinic Canada's brand ambassador Natasha Garguilo who also introduced a panel to discuss the opening and the experts necessary to run clinics around the world.

Natasha begins the introduction and panel introduction

From their website; "Laser Clinics Canada believes beauty is tailored to you. They are passionate about delivering best-in-class treatments and services using medical-grade, industry-leading technology at affordable prices. They specialize in skin treatments, laser hair removal and cosmetic injectables, tailoring treatments to the individual and ensuring all clients achieve their desired results. As the global leader in advanced beauty treatments and skincare with over 15 million treatments delivered – you know you’re in trusted hands."

Jenna and Natasha

The panel, led by Natasha, included some of the medical team Dr. Waqqas Jalil, Medical Director and cosmetic surgeon, Shameeza Kassamali NP, Head of Inject along with Franchise Manager and Olympian Jenna Caira.

They talked about accessibility and making the laser services more affordable, with modern technology and private treatment rooms. Their program of 50/50 franchise ownership was also discussed and they were actively looking for people to open and run new locations.
The Laser Clinics Canada location along the Front Street Promenade

I also found it interesting that the Union Station location will be the flagship and the training centre for the Canadian operation, which from the sounds of things will continue to grow in Canada. Their six locations include one in Ottawa and five in the GTA - including one at Square One Shopping Centre, now part of the world's largest cosmetic clinic. Very impressive for a company started in Australia in 2008.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Toronto Windfest 2023

The wind started slowly but the kites gathered along Woodbine Beach before reaching for the sky during the annual Toronto Windfest from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, September 16. 

Some of these kites are immense, some are the typical triangular shapes but they all seem to have long tails and are all handled by skilled kite fliers. The yellow and black one is a sting ray.

See more kites after the jump.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Toronto Ukrainian and Polish Festivals 2023

Toronto celebrated two Eastern European countries heritage this weekend with the Polish and Ukrainian Festivals. Bloor West Village had the Toronto Ukrainian Festival from September 15 - 17 and Roncesvalles Village hosted the Toronto Polish Festival September  16 - 17, 2023. Both festivals welcomed visitors to the neighbourhoods with unique culture, food and entertainment, amusement rides, markets and vendors although both offered plenty of pierogis.

The Roncesvalles Polish Festival takes place on Roncesvalles Avenue between Queen St. West to Dundas St. West.

The Ukrainian Festival was located on Bloor St. West, Toronto, between Jane St. and Runnymede Rd and on the Bloor-Danforth Subway line.

There was an exhibition of damaged doors from the war torn country

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Mexican Independence Day celebration Toronto 2023

Aye Caramba, it was a day of fun and entertainment in Nathan Phillips Square for the 29th annual Mexican Independence Day celebrations in Toronto on September 16, 2023. Thousands that flock to Toronto City Hall during the festivities make this one of the largest Mexican Independence Day events in the world. Plus this is the first time that I have seen a train in the Square.

From their website; "Mexican Independence Day celebrates the call to arms in Mexico in 1810 that led to the Mexican War of Independence that resulted in the creation of the independent nation of Mexico. Every year Mexicans around the world celebrate this event with festivities & a show of patriotism. In Toronto, we've staged free & public Independence Day celebrations annually since 1994.  With its mix of traditional & contemporary Mexican dance & music, authentic Mexican food, culture, crafts, art & more, this event brings together the Mexican community into the public realm for all to experience, regardless of heritage. We strive to celebrate our heritage & share it with the community at large as well as connect Mexicans to their roots, traditions & fellow community. The event is family-friendly & appropriate for all age groups & people of all cultures."
I think it is a high speed bullet train

See more photos of the celebrations after the jump.

Giant Rubber Ducky back in Toronto

The Toronto Waterfront Festival has returned to Harbourfront for 2023 and they brought the big guns out with the famous yellow rubber duckie.

It takes a lot of air to blow this baby up

From their website ; "The Toronto Waterfront Festival (formerly Redpath Waterfront Festival) is thrilled to announce the HUGE news that the World’s Largest Rubber Duck, presented by Clorox®, will be returning to Toronto’s waterfront, September 16-17, 2023. Due to the new nature of her set up, Mama Duck will be nesting on-land this time at 7 Queens Quay East."

From the side It looks like the Beatles' Yellow Submarine

There is quite a few free samples of food and drink being given out and the Canadian Armed Forces is on site as well. Two large personnel carriers as well as the Royal Canadian Navy with the sailing ship HMCS Oriole.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort George

When half of the GTA is on the road to Niagara-on-the-Lake, wineries and the big, famous waterfalls nearby it forces you to take your time getting to the tourist area and contemplate the history of the area. Canada's early history includes a military engagement against the United States during the War of 1812 and a part of that history can be found at historic Fort George.

Soldiers in bright red uniforms put on demonstrations of musket firing and guides around the fort help people learn of the life and times of the soldiers and civilians that were found in the wooden structures, behind wood pole fencing and deep ditches. The fort was built 1796-1802 and troops were involved in the Battle of Queenston Heights and those Americans took the fort during the Battle of Fort George. 

It was during the tour that I found out that the fort was not in the best place to defend the lake and the river so they built another, better fort on the other side of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Now under the 18th hole of the golf course the Fort Mississauga is the unknown brother of Fort George.

You can see the American fort - Old Fort Niagara across the Niagara River. It was a very impressive fort, less woody than our fort. Ironically it used to be British but they lost it as a result of the American War for Independence (1775-1783).

From the friends of Fort George website; "Today, visitors to Fort George National Historic Site can step back in time to experience the early military history of Niagara. Tour through 19th century military architecture including the Blockhouses, Officers' Quarters, Artificers Shop and Guard House. Make sure to visit the powder magazine, which is the only building to have survived the Battle of Fort George and is the oldest military building in Ontario today! Throughout the summer, experience the sounds of the Fife and Drum Corps, witness the training manoeuvres of the 41st Regiment Infantry unit, taste food prepared over an open fire in the Officer's Kitchen, and witness musket and artillery demonstrations."

You can also go through all the stores on Niagara-on-the-Lake before or after your visit.

See more of the fort after the jump.

Monday, September 11, 2023

It's festival season in Toronto

This past weekend the city was full of festivals, many of them street festivals and shutting down streets leads to BlogTO telling us what a nightmare it will be to traverse the city. Add in road construction, TTC shutdowns and accidents and it really is true so I biked! Many of the festivals feature the same old things sometimes it's hard to tell one festival from another. But, a big but, they bring people out to socialize and have fun - escape the ordinary and meet your neighbours. They just need more dunk tanks.
tiff street festival
During the September 9-10 weekend there was VegTO Fest, Cabbagetown Festival, Ossington Summer Send-off Festival, Taste of Kingsway and the creme de la creme - tiff street festival, now featuring fewer celebrities (actor and writer strikes). 

The Ossington Summer Send-off
The mini Oss-Fest was a one day affair. From the Meet me on Ossington website; "Something great is planned for Saturday, September 9th! Get ready to experience a pedestrian takeover of Ossington Avenue between Queen St W and Dundas St W. Many people, visitors, customers, city builders and businesses have always said, "Ossington Avenue would be the perfect street to pedestrianize for a day or two, or better yet, every weekend!". Well those wishes have been granted, for one day anyways! We have been graciously awarded the Main Street Innovation Fund through the City of Toronto, to help make this happen!"
Taste of Kingsway had a lot of amusement rides

From the Taste of the Kingsway website; "From September 8-10, join us for three unforgettable days of food, music, family entertainment, contests, and shows at South Etobicoke's largest street festival, in celebration of its 25th year."

Tall guy making balloons during Cabbagetown Festival

From Cabbagetown's website; "Calling all festival lovers! Get ready to party like it's 1976 because the legendary Cabbagetown Festival is back! After a 3-year hiatus, we're coming back bigger, bolder, and better than ever before! Gather your crew, bring your dancing shoes, and join us for a FREE weekend of pure fun, on September 9th and 10th!"
VegTO Fest at City Hall's Nathan Phillips Square
From VegTO Fest website; "VegTO Fest returns! Toronto’s only free vegan festival kale-bent on making plant-based fun accessible and sensational for everyone. Experience over 200 exhibitors offering food, wares and other wonders. There’s lots to get hyped about."

Next week (September 16-17, 2023) brings a couple of doozies as well such as the Redpath Waterfront Festival (with the big rubber ducky), the Toronto Ukrainian Festival, Roncesvalles Polish Festival.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square