TORONTO, Ontario — The event may only take place for three days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not on the minds of the fans, drivers, or the staff all year round. That’s because there’s a lot of planning that goes into the event, led by President Jeff Atkinson.
Atkinson and his team work year-round to not only run a great show, but bring forth more exciting new adventures to continue placing smiles on faces. This year is no different, with many things on-board for the fans.
“I think the real neat thing is how diverse our on-track line-up is,” Atkinson said on Friday. “If you look at the racers that we have here – they compete in all different disciplines and categories, and for us, what’s on-track is tremendous. ”
The on-track line-up will feature the main event for the NTT IndyCar Series on Sunday, with on-track sessions both days leading up to the event. They will be joined by the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires, Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, NASCAR Pinty’s Series, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, and the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks. The track always seems to captivate action out of each series, courtesy of being one of the most challenging street circuits with the bumps. It’s why young drivers, like USF2000 competitor Eduardo Barrichello, are looking forward to the opportunity this weekend.
“I think it’s a really special opportunity for me to be running with the IndyCar guys,” he said. “My weekend in St. Pete was a bit of frustration because I broke down a lot. But I’ve watched some videos and started learning the track. I know from people telling me that it’s a bit of bumpy, but I’ll be ready for it.”
Among the series, there are plenty of hometown drivers that everybody can cheer for, ranging from Oakville’s own James Hinchcliffe in IndyCar, to Toronto native Dalton Kellett in Indy Lights.
“This is always a special race for me,” Kellett said Friday. “I was born right in Toronto and grew up 40 minutes north of here. We’ll have a big contingent of family and friends walking around here all weekend. It’s really exciting. It’s always fun to be around the Toronto fans and the track is awesome; they just keep making it better each year.”
On top of the on-track action, there’s plenty of stuff for event goers to do on the grounds, with new family rest areas and a DJ added to Thunder Alley for 2019. As a highlight, Spongebob Square Pants will be making appearances throughout the weekend for the kids on top of being the grand marshall for the Pinty’s Grand Prix on Saturday.
“For us, most of our activations will be in Thunder Alley,” Atkinson commented. “But if you navigate the entire grounds here, you’re going to run into something fun and cool. I know to have the Stadium Super Trucks back at this event this year is such a cool thing, and you can check out their paddock in Thunder Alley. It’s adjacent to the NASCAR Pintys Series paddock, as well as the Porsche GT3 Cup. So it’s going to be a fun weekend. We have a lot of great drivers so it should be great competition, but whether you’re watching on the track or off the track, it should be great fun for the entire family.”
As noted, the Stadium Super Trucks make their first appearance on the streets of Toronto since 2016, when Sheldon Creed and Matt Brabham each took a step on top of the podium across the weekend following a pair of race-long battles. Although they will tackle the same street course as the other competitors, it will be done differently in style courtesy of metal ramps being set-up along the front stretch.
“We’re back this year, and it’s something different,” one of the competitors, Russell Boyle, stated on Friday. “It’s definitely something different than the other series. There’s nothing that you can say to describe it.”
For those who have never been to the event, there was a great opportunity presented on Friday, July 12, with Fan Friday presented by the Honda Canada Dealers. The yearly tradition allows people on the grounds for free, while collecting donations for Make A Wish Canada. Over the past several seasons, they have been able to raise over $700,000.
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