TORONTO – All systems are go for the Honda Indy Toronto.
On July 8, torrential rain created commuter chaos, power outages and flooded basements and parts of the subway across the city hard on Lake Ontario. The storm will not have an impact on the IZOD IndyCar Series doubleheader weekend that will feature a standing start for Race 1 on July 13. The last Indy car race with a standing start was Long Beach in 2008.
Crews today were putting the finishing touches on the Exhibition Place circuit to welcome spectators to Fan Friday.
“We have no issues down here,” said Charlie Johnstone, president of the Honda Indy Toronto. “If this was a Friday night, it would be a little bit different. It really takes an astounding number of team members to pull this together. I think we have 72 contractors working on this site, thousands of workers, hundreds of volunteers and we’re doing this all within the confines of open city streets.
That dynamic, there’s a lot of moving parts and people think, ‘OK we’ve been racing on the streets of Toronto since 1986 and you must have this down to a science.’ Everything changes. We have a hotel being built on-site so there are lots of different that make it challenging but all exciting for us.”
Six festivals augment the on-track action, and for the fourth consecutive year the Ontario Honda Dealer Association will cover the cost of admission July 12 in exchange for a donation to Make-A-Wish Canada.
“We’ve taken the idea that we have 2inTO – two races on the same weekend – and we’ve used it as a platform to draw people to the event by focusing not only what’s on track but what’s going on off-track with the festival atmosphere,” said Johnstone, who announced that Toronto Maple Leafs players Dave Bolland and David Clarkson will serve as the grand marshals.
“We defy anybody to come down here and not find it cool, fun and sexy. At the Honda Indy Toronto, the races and the entertainment go hand-in-hand to provide our guests with one of the most memorable and energy-packed sporting experiences in Canada.”
Briscoe back in No. 4 entry
Ryan Briscoe is back in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car for the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader. He finished 14th in the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco last weekend, and has driven the car at Milwaukee and the doubleheader in Detroit.
“We’re rolling into this weekend with a little more knowledge of each other with the continuity of having run last weekend together in Pocono and this being our second street course race,” said Briscoe, who was runner-up on the Exhibition Place circuit with Team Penske in the 2009 race. “I had a chance to come to the race shop this week and spend some more time with the engineers, which was nice.”
Conway adds three races
Mike Conway, who claimed a win and a pole for Dale Coyne Racing at the Detroit doubleheader, will drive the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ car at the Toronto and Houston doubleheaders.
At Detroit, was the only driver to secure podium finishes in both races, including his second series win in the first race.
"Hopefully, we will pick up from where we left off in Detroit. Toronto is one of my favorite circuits so there is no reason why we can't do well there,” Conway said. "Houston will be new to a lot of people, however Dale Coyne and my teammate Justin (Wilson) raced there in Champ Car so I am hoping to get some good feedback from them.”
Houston lineup features free concert by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revisited will headline a concert Oct. 4 to add to the excitement of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers.
Grand Prix ticket-holders receive free access to the trackside concert at Reliant Park. Fans also can purchase reserved seat tickets ($40 for the first three rows or $25 for all other reserved seats), which go on sale at noon July 12.
Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, at www.grandprixofhouston.com, by phone at (800) 745-3000 or the Reliant Stadium South ticket windows inside Budweiser Plaza.
Did you know
The Honda Indy Toronto is one of the oldest street-circuit events in Indy car racing, having been run for the first time in 1986 as a Championship Auto Racing Teams event and being preceded only by the Grand Prix of Long Beach, which became a CART race three years earlier.
Honda has served as the title sponsor of the Toronto event since it returned to the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule in 2009. The sponsorship is administered through Honda Canada, Inc., Honda Motor’s Canadian subsidiary.
Honda’s 200 Indy car victories include 101 in seasons with manufacturer competition and 99 in the six years (2006-2011) when Honda supplied engines to the full IZOD IndyCar Series field.