Throughout the past couple of years, the Honda Indy Toronto has received some changes and grown to continue to impress fans. The result? A perfect event that is a fixture on any race fan’s summer schedule.
The Honda Indy Toronto is an event that has been enjoyed by race fans for years, just ask Oakville, Ontario native and current IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe. He says that this is where his passion started for racing as he grew up only half n hour from Toronto.
“I remember being five, six years old and climbing under the grandstands, meeting Mario Andretti and getting his autograph,” Hinchcliffe recalled. “When the cars were at the fuel tank, a little more open and exposed, I’d go stand there. One of the mechanics let me hold a steering wheel – it was one of the coolest things ever.”
The fans that were at the event enjoyed up-close access to drivers of different series, whether IndyCar, World Challenge or the Stadium Super Trucks. Fans were able to talk with drivers and explore the vehicles they race up-close to further understand it more.
Speaking of the action on track, the Stadium Super Trucks made their first appearance at Toronto in their inaugural season and I have one question to ask – can we bring them back? The entire event, both frontstretch grandstands were packed and fans were on their feet excited by the action. Watching the trucks tear around the tight corners and then jump over the jumps racing side-by-side, it brought a level of excitement that the event had been missing.
Having the trucks on the track, followed by the IndyCars, really brings forth the contrast between the two – but also delivers the excitement to the different types of racing fans.
Off the track, the event delivered in more ways than one. If you had kids, there were things for them to do. Toronto Sun had a booth with tricycle races, while Dr. Pepper had a booth with cooler racing. Yes, motorized coolers. There is no joke about these things.
Pizza Pizza also had hockey shooting and football throwing for the kids, while Honda World was doing face painting and giving out popcorn, cotton candy and snowcones, as long as you made a donation to Make A Wish Foundation. There was no way for the kids to get bored as there were activities to keep them interested.
On the food side, the event delivered this year with a variety of food exhibits throughout the grounds. One of the highlights was Crossroads Diner with their food truck. They were selling their famous pie in a glass, as well as the ‘Hinchtown Burger’. All I have to say about the burger is yum. Dr. Pepper and Snapple were also giving out free samples of their products.
Last thing on the food side –Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. If you tried all seven flavors, you got to spin the wheel for a prize. For those who love hot sauce, easy right? For those who don’t, like myself, it was a challenge – however still interesting. By the way, make sure you try their Chili and Lime flavor.
One of the newest additions this year was the Craft Beer fest. You could go and try a variety of flavors of beer while sitting in some lawn chairs, enjoying the racing action along the longest stretch on the course. Keeping cool + racing = a win-win combination.
Speaking of cool events…..Honda has done this the past couple of years and hopefully it continues. The Honda Dealers make Friday free….calling it ‘Free Friday’. Fans are welcome to come check out practice and qualifying for free. The idea is to get you down there and amongst the happenings to introduce you to everything. Once you see it, you know you want to continue to enjoy it and will buy tickets for both Saturday and Sunday. At the same time, they are collecting donations for ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ at the gates and throughout the grounds. Most people coming through the gates or when they are leaving will drop their change in the bucket. The sweetest part of the deal? Honda matches the donation so technically you’re $1 is worth $2 to the charity. So if you can’t make the whole weekend, at least come down on the Friday and make a donation.
The growth of the event is something that is noticed by drivers as they enjoy coming to Toronto race.
“Toronto is incredible,” Josef Newgarden said. “I just love the track. It’s a fun weekend to come race at, it’s a fun weekend to come visit a different city and Toronto is one of the best. They have incredibly passionate fans. Everything about it is good. I love the track. I love the style of racing here. I love the difficulty with the track that arises.”
“I love this place,” Scott Dixon said. “The town is a lot of fun. The fans are knowledgeable and love what we do. It’s great to see the excitement they had here all weekend.
“The promoters I think did a great job to have so many different things going on for different people. It wasn’t just for racing. There were other forms of entertainment. It’s good to see people actually get it and put on a great show for everyone.”
You could also see the growth by the number of people that were at the event this year, versus previous years.
“Even on the backstraight in the trees, there were a ton of people sitting on the grass,” Dixon said. “I hadn’t seen that for a long time. I really think that the crowds this weekend, whether it was due to the weather being so nice, most of the stands were packed. There were people everywhere.
“I think the craziest thing is this town is how many high-rises are going up. How do they sell these things? Must be a lot of people living here.”
If there is one complaint, I would love to see the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series cars return ot the streets of Toronto. The show they put on was always exciting and certainly would add another layer to the show.
However, even with that said, this year’s show was A+ over the top and highly recommended for any Canadian motorsports fans in the future.