Toronto’s Exhibition Place was supposed to be roaring this weekend with the annual electricity generated by the Honda Indy Toronto, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES event which traces its roots to the first event held in the Ontario city in 1986. However, lingering effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic prohibited that for a second consecutive year.
No one is more disappointed that James Hinchcliffe and Dalton Kellett, Canadian drivers itching to again compete on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street circuit.
Both NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers call the Toronto area home. Hinchcliffe is from the suburb of Oakville, Kellett from Stouffville.
“The drivers are right there with you,” Kellett said of again missing this event. “We love that track, and everyone really enjoys coming to the city.”
AJ Foyt Racing driver Kellett insisted he wasn’t just boasting about his hometown, which annually puts on a terrific show for the motorsports community.
“It wasn’t the right time, given Ontario’s COVID numbers, for it to happen this year,” Kellett said. “We will see you next year!”
Canadian drivers have a history of performing at a high level in this event.
While West Hill’s Paul Tracy is the only Canadian driver to have won an INDYCAR race at his home track – he won in 1993 and 2003 – there have been a dozen instances of countrymen earning a spot on the podium.
Tracy finished in the top three on five occasions. Alex Tagliani and Hinchcliffe did so twice, with Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier and Robert Wickens each earning such a position once.
Tracy (1990) and Greg Moore (1995) won Indy Lights races at Exhibition Place.
Instead of racing this weekend in Toronto, Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport's Hinchcliffe will compete in Saturday’s Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) race at Slinger (Wisconsin) Speedway. Tracy is one of the regulars of the series founded by three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.
“I’ll get a couple of laps in those things and then I’m probably going to go back home to Canada for a little while,” Hinchcliffe said. “My wife’s (actress Becky Dalton) got a new movie that she’s shooting. I’m going to play support staff for a couple of weeks, something like that.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES resumes action Aug. 6-8 with the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. There are six races left in the 2021 season.