TORONTO – Their shift complete, Paul Little and Cory McWhinney peeled off their tool belts and made a beeline to Smoke's Poutinerie truck for a lunchtime complement to watching the second Verizon IndyCar Series practice session for the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.
Sheet metal workers assigned by the contractor to the Hotel X project on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition, the Ontario residents wanted to watch the cars click off laps on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn street circuit that encompasses the hotel.
“This is awesome,” said Little. “I’ve never see the Indy cars before so it’s a great to get off work and watch how fast they go. I’ll probably get a ticket for Sunday’s race.”
A banner on the concrete pillars framing what will be the atrium heralds an autumn 2015 opening of the 29-story, 400-room hotel a few hundred yards from Lake Ontario.
“It’s been cool to see the barriers put in place and the grandstands going up the last few weeks for the course just a few feet away,” McWhinney said. “And now to see and hear the cars on the track is awesome. I caught glimpses during the morning (practice) and now want to watch from different places.”
Both, however, were envious of the crane operator high above the ground floor.
“He’s got the best view but has to work, too,” Little said.
A section of the project near pit lane incorporates part of the archaeological remains of an 1840's barracks for British soldiers that were buried under a parking lot. The foundation has been revealed and will be highlighted beneath a glass-covered section of the hotel entrance.
Known initially as the New Fort, then the Stanley Barracks, it was built to take the pressure off Toronto’s original military garrison, Fort York, which is about a half-mile away.