Monday, September 18, 2023

Honda Indy Toronto Receives Approval for 2024 Return

William Ashley Co Display with IndyCar at 2023 Honda Indy Toronto
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada/XSL Speed Reporter 

On Friday September 15th, a vital meeting for the 2024 Honda Indy on the street of Toronto concluded in favour for welcoming back the headlining sounds of twin-turbocharged Honda and Chevrolet engines next summer. The Board of Governors of Exhibition Place decided to approve the application submitted by Green Savoree Toronto for a one-year license to extend the popular auto racing event. 

In the agreement, the 2024 event is tentatively slated to be held over four days starting July 18th and extends to July 21st. Billing itself as an event that generates $47 million for the economy of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), according to report from the Chief Executive Officer of Exhibition Place Don Boyle, the Honda Indy Toronto also supports more than 450 full time jobs in the GTA. The race weekend also contributes heavily to the hospitality industry of the city accounting for over 33,000 hotel room nights between the race teams as well as race spectators with 34 percent attending from outside Toronto. During the 2023 edition of the event, more than $100,000 was raised for Make-A-Wish Canada with the total after 12 years of the partnership cresting above $1 million.

A somewhat concerning detail about this recent application is the deal only covers a single year of the Honda Indy Toronto. The previous four times when negotiating with Exhibition Place, Green Savoree Toronto sought three-year extensions for the race event. It’s unclear why the decision was made to not pursue a multi-year agreement for 2024 and beyond. The reason for requesting a one-year agreement is unclear. Financial terms for the 2024 agreement are confidential.

Since its 1986 inception, the street race within Exhibition Place had been missed on only three occasions with two (2020 and 2021) caused as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The 2008 event was not held as the Champ Car open wheel racing series planned to run at the venue entered unification with the Indy Racing League/IndyCar. Along with IndyCar being the headliner, a number of additional racing series support the race weekend in Toronto including the NASCAR Pinty’s Series as well as Sports Car Championship Canada in recent years. 

With the 2024 edition of the Honda Indy Toronto passing by its approval hurtle, the schedule for the upcoming NTT IndyCar Series is slowly taking shape. Though a complete 2024 season tour has not been announced by the open wheel organization there have already been several set. Already teased by IndyCar is a season finale on the streets of Nashville for September 15th as well as $1-million to win non-points event on March 24th at California’s Thermal Club. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

NASCAR Action Returns to Streets of Toronto in 2016

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Stock Car Crossing Start-Finish Line
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy
The 30th anniversary edition of Toronto's popular motorsport street race will feature a few familiar touches attendees of previous events had been used to. As expected, the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto will return to its traditional mid-July date after a one-year move to June in order to accommodate the 2015 Pan-Am Games. The July 15th to 17th 2016 race weekend within the area of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds will also feature a support series that had been absent since 2011. After five years away from the streets of Toronto, Canada's top NASCAR series will once again compete as part of the summer festivities alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series.

To be known as the NASCAR Pinty's Series starting in 2016, the former NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock cars will be a popular addition to next year's Honda Indy Toronto race schedule. The stock car racing division and the principals behind the Honda Indy Toronto will return to the event as part of a three-year appearance agreement.

The stock cars first appeared as a companion to the popular Canadian street race in 1999 when the series existed as the CASCAR Super Series. Running until 2005 under the CASCAR banner, the stock car competition was reinstated in 2010. Both CASCAR Super Series and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events had been largely been dominated by drivers with considerable road course racing skill. Multiple winners of stock car races on the 2.824-kilometer street circuit include Kevin Dowler, Jeff Lapcevich, former Players LTD/GM Challenge Series driver Robin Buck and most recently Andrew Ranger. Ranger won both NASCAR Canadian Tire Series turns at the Honda Indy Toronto in 2010 and 2011.

Photo Credit: Matthew Manor/Getty Images for NASCAR

The announcement of stock cars returning to the Honda Indy Toronto accompanied the official word on Canada's NASCAR series' new title sponsor. Pinty's Delicious Foods Inc. will formally become the series' corporate backer starting on January 1st of next year. The full 2016 NASCAR Pinty's Series schedule will be published at a later date.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Canadian Content Expanded for 2016 BMW Motorsports Drivers' Line-Up

Photo Credit: BMW Motorsport

BMW's auto racing program gains some additional excitement in 2016. Two all-new race-prepped versions of the BMW M6 will lead the brand's motorsport charge in the new year. IMSA's WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship competition will gain the all-new BMW M6 GTLM fieled by Team BMW RLL (Rahal Letterman Lanigan). Along with with the two-car GTLM effort, the M6 GT3 will operate in the IMSA series' GTD class as well as other GT racing series across the globe. In addition to upgraded race hardware for 2016, BMW Motorsport's world driving line-up is upgraded with presence of two established Canadian sports car racers.

Returning to the 2016 BMW Motorsport team line-up is 2012 DTM Champion Bruno Spengler. French born, Spengler actively campaigns as a Canadian driver after his family moved to Quebec when he was three years old. A competitor in DTM since 2005, he renews with the German automaker's motorsport effort for a fifth consecutive season in the series. In addition to DTM competition, Bruno Spengler's name will be seen on the side of new BMW M6 GTLM at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. A return trip for the 32-year-old driver called "The Secret Canadian", Spengler finished second with Team BMW RLL in class last year.    

Photo Credit: BMW Motorsport

Alongside Bruno Spengler's one-race participation in the IMSA WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship top event, Canada can patriotically cheer on Team BMW RLL new driver Kuno Wittmer. The Montreal, Quebec racer arrives in the BMW Motorsports' IMSA program after several successful seasons competing with a Dodge Viper. Part of a factory-backed SRT Motorsports in 2014, he won the inaugural GTLM category drivers' title in the United SportsCar Championship. When SRT Motorsports pulled out of IMSA sports car racing class after Wittmer's championship year, he moved to the GTD class and ran with Riley Motorsports. Driving the Dodge Viper GT3-R, Kuno Wittmer earned class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona alongside his four teammates.

Kuno Wittmer will be partnered with the driving line-up for one of the Team BMW RLL fielded BMW M6 GTLM for longer distance races at Daytona, Sebring and Road Atlanta.

Both Canadian drivers will be part of the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona scheduled for January 30th and 31st.