The 2017 Honda Indy revs-up for this weekend’s action (July 14th, 15th and 16th), as Toronto streets around Exhibition Place are turned into a street circuit for the second largest annual racing event in Canada. Drivers will have to maneuver through 11 turns over 1.75 miles of; Canada Blvd., Lake Shore Blvd. W, Ontario Dr., Princes’ Blvd, Manitoba Dr. and Nova Scotia Ave, as a part of IndyCar’s second-longest street race, eclipsed by the Grand Prix of Long Beach. For the 31st time, the raw man made power of 2.2-liter twin-turbo V-6 engines, pumping out an estimated 550-750 horse power will rage war on the concrete/asphalt of the capital of Ontario, a war in which retired American driver Michael Andretti conquered a record 7 times (89’, 91’, 92’, 94’, 95’, 00’ and 01’). However with Andretti’s bar set so high, drivers will aim their aggression towards the 36-year old Australian driver Will Powers who took a total of 1:42:39 to complete the 85 laps to capture the checkered flag for the third time in his career in Toronto last year. After practices for drivers/pit crews today, qualifying Saturday afternoon, the green flag is set to drop at 3:47pm Sunday.
Indy racing has travelled down a long and winding road in the nation of Canada, with its origin dating back to the centennial anniversary of this country. In 1967, the Telegram Trophy 200 raced on at Mosport Park just north of Bowmanville, Ontario and was won by American Bobby Unser. The race was held again in 1968 (won by American Dan Gurney) before a 9-year absence of Indy racing took place, returning to Mosport Park in 1977 (won by American AJ Foyt) and 1978 (won by Hawaiian Danny Ongais) before fading away once more. In 1985 Molstar Sports & Entertainment (Part of Molson Breweries) would propose to the city of Toronto bringing Indy racing to Exhibition Place and would be approved by Toronto City Council by just two votes. The following year Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) held the first IndyCar race on the street of Toronto. In 266 races in his CART career American Bobby Rahal only took the checkered flag three times, however he’ll always have the right to say he was the first winner in Toronto, when he crossed the finish line before anyone else in 1986. The 3-day event, which sees roughly 170,000 in attendance over the weekend known as the Molson Indy/Molson Grand Prix/Steelback Grand Prix would continue to run until 2007, until the unification of CART and the Indy Racing League. Lost in the mix was the failure to preserve the race and the 2008 ‘Grand Prix of Toronto’ was canceled. In spring of that year Andretti Green Racing (co-owned by record holder Michael Andretti) purchased the assets of the former race and a few months later declared they had signed a multi-year deal with Honda Canada Inc. Racing was going to return to the streets of Toronto, this time as the Honda Indy, where it continues to bring the IndyCar racing world to Canada today.
It is important to note that there is so much more going on at Exhibition Place this weekend, then just the IndyCar series race. NASCAR Pinty’s Series Race takes place on Saturday for just the second time after NASCAR Canada announced a 3-year return in the winter of 2015. Also on Saturday race fans can enjoy; the Global MX-5 Cup Race, USF 2000 Race, Indy Lights Race and the Porche Ultra 94 GT Cup Challenge Race. No matter what style of racing get’s your RPMs up, sponsors along with hundreds of volunteers have been working hard to setup a venue filled with things to do by yourself or with friends/family, just make sure to not pickup a speeding ticket on your way in or when leaving this great event.