Honda Indy Toronto

The Honda Indy Toronto is an annual Indy Car race, held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Originally known as the Molson Indy Toronto, it was part of the Champ Car World Series from 1986 to 2007. After a one-year hiatus, it has been part of the NTT IndyCar Series schedule since 2009. The race takes place on a 2.874-kilometre (1.786 mi), 11 turn, temporary street circuit through Exhibition Place and on Lake Shore Boulevard. Toronto is classified as an FIA Grade Two circuit.[1]

Honda Indy Toronto
Honda Indy Toronto Logo.jpg
Toronto, Ontario street circuit track map.svg
NTT IndyCar Series
LocationExhibition Place
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
43°38′14″N 79°24′56″W / 43.63722°N 79.41556°W / 43.63722; -79.41556Coordinates: 43°38′14″N 79°24′56″W / 43.63722°N 79.41556°W / 43.63722; -79.41556
Corporate sponsorHonda Canada Inc.
First race1986
First ICS race2009
Laps90
Previous namesMolson Indy Toronto (1986–2005)
Molson Grand Prix of Toronto (2006)
Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto (2007)
Most wins (driver)Michael Andretti (7)
Most wins (team)Newman/Haas Racing (7)
Most wins (manufacturer)Chassis: Dallara (13)
Engine: Chevrolet (13)
Circuit information
SurfaceAsphalt/Concrete
Length2.874 km (1.786 mi)
Turns11
Lap record57.143 (Gil de Ferran, Reynard-Honda, 1999, CART)

It is IndyCar's second-longest running street race, only behind the Grand Prix of Long Beach[2] and is the third oldest race on the current schedule (tied with the Mid-Ohio 200) in terms of number of races run.[3] The Toronto Indy is one of seven Canadian circuits to have held an IndyCar race, the others being Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Mont-Tremblant, Sanair, Montreal, Vancouver, and Edmonton.

OriginsEdit

Motorsport and automobile demonstrations has a history at Exhibition Place going back over 100 years.[4][5] Automotive shows, displays, races and driving demonstrations have taken place on the grounds since the invention of the automobile, including the first appearance of an indy car, the 1916 Indianapolis 500 winning Peugeot during the 1918 Canadian National Exhibition.[6]

From 1952 until 1966 the grandstand hosted stock car racing on a paved quarter mile circuit on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons, hosting crowds upwards of 20,000 often broadcast live on CBC in Toronto.[7][8] In 1958 the venue hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race, the Jim Mideon 500. The race was the first of Richard Petty's 1,184 starts in NASCAR and was won by his father Lee Petty.

 
2003 Molson Indy pit lane and front straight.

In 1967, the first ever Indy race held in Canada was the Telegram Trophy 200, held at nearby Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario as part of the USAC Championship Car season. The race was won by Bobby Unser for his first career Indy victory. Following Dan Gurney’s victory in 1968, a group led by John Bassett and Imperial Tobacco made the first proposal to run both the 1969 Telegram Trophy Indy race and the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix at a new street circuit along Lake Shore Boulevard and through Exhibition Place with the start/finish line and pits to be located inside Exhibition Stadium.[9][10][11] Bassett dropped the idea just as the bill was going through third reading before Toronto city council.[12]

After a nine-year absence, IndyCars returned to the Toronto area for the Molson Diamond Indy at Mosport Park won by A. J. Foyt in 1977 and Danny Ongais in 1978.

Following the 1977 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, Labatt, the sponsor who held the rights to F1 racing in Canada at the time, as well as the owners of Mosport Park revived the proposal to move the race to Exhibition Place after the FIA deemed Mosport as an unsuitable host facility going forward.[13] Toronto city council turned down the proposal by a margin of two votes and within a few hours, Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau had negotiated with Labatt to move the race permanently to Montreal.[14] [15][16]

In 1984, Molson Breweries in-house promotional division, Molstar Sports & Entertainment acquired the rights to CART sanctioned IndyCar races in Canada and ran the first Molson Indy at the Sanair Speedway outside Montreal. The tight tri-oval was unpopular with the CART teams in part due to a severe injury to Rick Mears during the first event. [17] In the spring of 1985, Molson revived the idea of a street circuit through Exhibition Place in Toronto for a third time. Toronto City Council approved the race by two votes in July 1985 for the race to be held the following year. [18]

Race historyEdit

The first Molson Indy Toronto was won by Bobby Rahal on July 20, 1986. The event quickly became Canada's second largest annual sporting event, eclipsed only by the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, with three-day attendance figures routinely around 170,000 people.[19]

Time trials for the 2013 race.

In the 1996 race, American driver Jeff Krosnoff was killed in a crash with 4 laps remaining. In that same crash, volunteer corner marshal Gary Avrin was killed, and marshal Barbara Johnston also received injuries in the crash; she was treated and released that evening. Adrián Fernández won the race.

The name of the race was changed in 2006 from the Molson Indy Toronto to the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto after it was purchased by the Champ Car World Series from Molstar Sports and Entertainment. The name was also changed to distance Champ Car from the rival Indy Racing League (IRL), which had gained the exclusive right to use the "Indy" name after 2002. In 2007, after Molson dropped their title sponsorship to the race, Steelback Brewery signed a multi-year, multimillion-dollar deal to become the event's title sponsor, renaming it the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. This marked the first title sponsorship change since the event started in 1986.

The unification of Champ Car and the Indy Racing League was announced on February 22, 2008, and the Grand Prix of Toronto's future was left in doubt. After attempts were made to preserve the race for 2008, it was confirmed on March 5, 2008, that the race had been cancelled. On May 15, 2008, Andretti Green Racing (co-owned by Michael Andretti) purchased the assets of the former Grand Prix of Toronto.[20] On July 30, 2008, it was confirmed that the race would return to Toronto on July 12, 2009.[21] On September 18, 2008, Andretti Green Racing announced that it had signed a multi-year agreement with Honda Canada Inc. for the title sponsorship of the race, henceforth named from 2009 onward as the Honda Indy Toronto.[22]

 
Looking towards the Direct Energy Centre during the 2013 race. Team Penske pits are at the bottom of the image.

In 2013, the race weekend was changed to a 2 race format with one race Saturday and one race Sunday. The Saturday race would feature a standing start while the Sunday race would be a rolling start. After an aborted standing start Saturday leading to a rolling start, teams and officials agreed to try the standing start again Sunday. The Sunday standing start was successful on its first attempt and was the first successful standing start in unified IndyCar series history (the Champ Car World Series had used standing starts late in its history shortly before unification). In 2014, weather forced both races to be run Sunday, exposing the difficulty in logistics of running two races in an already packed schedule. By 2015, both standing starts and the two race format were abandoned.

In 2016, the track layout was modified to accommodate the newly constructed Hotel X Toronto. Under the new layout, the pit lane was moved to the opposite side of the race course, starting at the outside of turn 9 and exiting just after turn 11. This, in turn, made turn 11 a sharper turn than it had been in the previous configuration.[23]

Michael Andretti is the all-time race win leader with seven victories.

The 2020 event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, marking the second time in the race's history. This came after Mayor John Tory announced that all public gatherings of 250 or over were banned until July 31 and no permits were to be issued.[24]

Following the cancellation of the 2020 race, a new three-year agreement was reached in September 2020 between Exhibition Place and Green Savoree Toronto to host the event through 2023.[25]

Past winnersEdit

USAC (Mosport Park)Edit

Season Date Driver Team Chassis Engine Race distance Race time Average speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
USAC National Championship Trail
1967 July 1   Bobby Unser Leader Cards Racing Eagle Ford 40 98.36 (158.295) 0:59:14 102.770 Report
6 14.754 (23.744)
1968 June 15   Dan Gurney Oscar Olson Eagle Weslake-Ford 40 98.36 (158.295) 0:56:45 105.727 Report
40 98.36 (158.295) 0:55:16 108.564
1969

1976
Not held
1977 July 3   A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises Coyote Foyt 75 184.425 (296.803 km) 2:03:35 90.733 Report
1978 June 11   Danny Ongais Interscope Racing Parnelli Cosworth 76 186.884 (300.761 km) 2:08:38 87.164 Report
1979 Not held
1980 Sept 14 Race cancelled following unification of USAC and CART schedules.
  • 1967: Run in two heats of 98 miles (158 kilometers/40 laps) each. Second race stopped after 6 laps due to rain.
  • 1968: Run in two heats of 98 miles (158 kilometers/40 laps) each.

CART/Champ Car/IndyCar (Exhibition Place)Edit

Season Date Driver Team Chassis Engine Race distance Race time Average speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
CART IndyCar/Champ Car
1986 July 20   Bobby Rahal Truesports March Cosworth 103 183.34 (295.057) 2:05:50 87.414 Report
1987 July 19   Emerson Fittipaldi Patrick Racing March Chevrolet-Ilmor 103 183.34 (295.057) 1:54:35 95.991 Report
1988 July 17   Al Unser Jr. Galles Racing March Chevrolet-Ilmor 103 183.34 (295.057) 1:59:34 91.994 Report
1989 July 23   Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Chevrolet-Ilmor 103 183.34 (295.057) 2:01:00 90.9 Report
1990 July 22   Al Unser Jr. Galles/KRACO Racing Lola Chevrolet-Ilmor 94* 167.32 (269.275) 2:13:26 75.997 Report
1991 July 21   Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Chevrolet-Ilmor 103 183.34 (295.057) 1:50:57 99.143 Report
1992 July 19   Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth 103 183.34 (295.057) 1:52:21 97.898 Report
1993 July 18   Paul Tracy Penske Racing Penske Chevrolet-Ilmor 103 183.34 (295.057) 1:53:58 96.51 Report
1994 July 17   Michael Andretti Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard Ford-Cosworth 98 174.44 (280.733) 1:48:15 96.673 Report
1995 July 16   Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth 98 174.44 (280.733) 1:50:25 94.787 Report
1996 July 14   Adrian Fernandez Tasman Motorsports Lola Honda 93* 165.912 (267.009) 1:41:59 97.548 Report
1997 July 20   Mark Blundell PacWest Racing Reynard Mercedes-Benz 95 163.495 (263.119) 1:45:43 92.779 Report
1998 July 19   Alex Zanardi Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard Honda 95 163.495 (263.119) 1:52:24 87.274 Report
1999 July 18   Dario Franchitti Team Green Reynard Honda 95 166.725 (268.317) 1:56:27 85.897 Report
2000 July 16   Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth 112 196.56 (316.332) 2:00:02 98.248 Report
2001 July 15   Michael Andretti Team Green Reynard Honda 95 166.725 (268.317) 1:59:58 83.375 Report
2002 July 7   Cristiano da Matta Newman/Haas Racing Lola Toyota 112 196.56 (316.332) 2:06:19 93.361 Report
2003 July 13   Paul Tracy Forsythe Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth 112 196.56 (316.332) 2:02:36 96.189 Report
2004 July 11   Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth 84 147.42 (237.249) 1:45:36 83.749 Report
2005 July 10   Justin Wilson RuSPORT Lola Ford-Cosworth 86 150.93 (242.898) 1:46:10 85.296 Report
2006 July 9   A. J. Allmendinger Forsythe Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth 86 150.93 (242.898) 1:38:01 92.386 Report
2007 July 8   Will Power Walker Racing Panoz Cosworth 73 128.115 (206.181) 1:45:58 72.534 Report
2008 Race cancelled following reunification of Champ Car and IRL.
IndyCar Series
2009 July 12   Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 85 149.175 (240.073) 1:43:47 86.24 Report
2010 July 18   Will Power Penske Racing Dallara Honda 85 149.175 (240.073) 1:47:15 83.451 Report
2011 July 10   Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 85 149.175 (240.073) 1:56:32 76.805 Report
2012 July 8   Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara Chevrolet 85 149.175 (240.073) 1:33:27 95.787 Report
2013 July 13   Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 85 149.175 (240.073) 1:41:17 88.37 Report
July 14   Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 85 149.175 (240.073) 1:35:02 94.177
2014 July 20*   Sébastien Bourdais KV Racing Technology Dallara Chevrolet 65* 114.075 (183.585) 1:15:44 90.37 Report
  Mike Conway Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara Chevrolet 56* 98.28 (158.166) 1:20:36 73.168
2015* June 14   Josef Newgarden CFH Racing Dallara Chevrolet 85 149.175 (240.073) 1:39:00 90.41 Report
2016 July 17   Will Power Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet 85 151.81 (244.314) 1:42:39 88.739 Report
2017 July 16   Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet 85 151.81 (244.314) 1:35:05 95.79 Report
2018 July 15   Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda 85 151.81 (244.314) 1:37:00 93.898 Report
2019 July 14   Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet 85 151.81 (244.314) 1:30:16 100.9 Report
2020 Race cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 July 11 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBA TBD TBD TBD Report
 
1997 Molson Indy Toronto
  • 1990: Race shortened due to rain.
  • 1996: Race ended with 1 1/2 laps remaining (93 of 95 laps completed) because of fatal crash on Lake Shore Boulevard. Driver Jeff Krosnoff and a track marshal were killed and the race was stopped near the impact point a lap later.
  • 2014: First race was postponed from Saturday to Sunday morning because of rain. The second planned race was still scheduled for Sunday afternoon which meant two races in one day. Because of this, both races were shortened from 85 laps to 65 to compensate for the delay. The second race however was further shortened due to time limit.
  • 2015: Due to Toronto hosting the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games, the race was moved to June to avoid conflicting with the games.
  • 2020 Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic the Toronto Honda Indy car race originally set between July 10 to the 12 was cancelled as per restrictions of City Of Toronto-led events and permits. [26]

Support race winnersEdit

Road to IndyEdit

SCCA Trans-Am SeriesEdit

Year Winning driver Car Ref
1993   Scott Sharp Chevrolet Camaro [27]
1994   Tommy Kendall Ford Mustang [28]
2004   Jorge Diaz, Jr. Jaguar XKR [29]
2005   Paul Gentilozzi Jaguar XKR [30]
2010   R. J. Lopez Chevrolet Corvette [31]

Pirelli World Challenge – GTEdit

Season Winning driver Car
2007   Randy Pobst Porsche 911 GT3
2010   Randy Pobst (GT)
  Peter Cunningham (GTS)
Volvo S60
Acura TSX
2013   Johnny O'Connell (GT)
  Lawson Aschenbach (GTS)
Cadillac CTS-V
Chevrolet Camaro
2014 Race 1
  Nick Tandy (GT)
  Marcelo Hahn (GTA)
  Dean Martin (GTS)
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Lamborghini Gallardo GT3
Ford Mustang Boss 302S
Race 2
  Kuno Wittmer (GT)
  Michael Mills (GTA)
  Mark Wilkins (GTS)
Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Kia Optima

Pirelli World Challenge – Touring CarEdit

Season Winning driver Car
2007   Peter Cunningham Acura
2010   Nick Wittmer Honda Civic Si
2013 Race 1
  Michael Cooper (TC)
  Joel Lipperini (TCB)
Mazdaspeed 3
Honda Fit
Race 2
  Michael Cooper (TC)
  Ernie Francis Jr. (TCB)
Mazdaspeed 3
Mazda 2

CASCAR Super SeriesEdit

Year Race name Winner Car Ref
1999 Miller Lite 100   Robin Buck Pontiac [32]
2000 Exide 99   Kevin Dowler Ford [33]
2001   Robin Buck Pontiac [34]
2002 CASCAR Toronto Indy, presented by NAPA   Kevin Dowler Ford [35]
2003 Avenue ACDelco 100   Jeff Lapcevich Chevrolet [36]
2004 CASCAR Toronto Indy 100   Jeff Lapcevich Chevrolet [37]
2005 ATTO 100   Kerry Micks Ford [38]

NASCAR Pinty's SeriesEdit

The Indy Toronto circuit is based around Exhibition Place, but the heritage of NASCAR and Exhibition Place dates considerably earlier than the 2010 Canadian Tire Series round at Indy Toronto. In 1958, the 31st round of NASCAR's Grand National (now Cup Series) championship was held at the third Exhibition Stadium (located on the site of BMO Field). That race marked the Cup debut of Richard Petty.

 
Ron Beauchamp, Jr. practicing for the 2010 Jumpstart 100
Year Race name Winner Car Ref
2010 Jumpstart 100   Andrew Ranger Dodge [39]
2011 Streets of Toronto 100   Andrew Ranger Dodge [40]
2016 Pinty's Grand Prix of Toronto   Alex Tagliani Chevrolet [41]
2017 Pinty's Grand Prix of Toronto   Kevin Lacroix Dodge [42]
2018 Pinty's Grand Prix of Toronto   Andrew Ranger Dodge [43]
2019 Pinty's Grand Prix of Toronto   Alex Tagliani Chevrolet [44]
2020 Cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic.

Stadium Super TrucksEdit

Stadium Super Truck racing at Toronto in 2016
Year Winner Ref
2013   Justin Lofton [45]
  Sheldon Creed
2014   Sheldon Creed [46]
  Sheldon Creed
2015   Scotty Steele [47]
  Keegan Kincaid [48]
2016   Matthew Brabham [49]
  Sheldon Creed
2019   Cole Potts [50]
  Gavin Harlien
2020 Cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic.

Current seriesEdit

Former seriesEdit

Besides the main event, Honda Indy Toronto also holds races of lower levels before. These are known as support series. A variety of racing series have previously run as support series on the race weekend. These include:[51]

CharitiesEdit

During the tenure of Molson's original race ownership, the Molson Indy Festival Foundation hosted various fundraising events in the city in the week leading up to the race week. As of 2004 the foundation had donated $5.6 million towards community groups and charitable organizations.[52]

In 2010 the race introduced the annual Fan Fridays to the race weekend. In lieu of paid admission, attendees are encouraged to make a contribution to the Make-A-Wish Foundation upon entering the grounds.[53] The initiative has raised $820,000 as of 2019 for the organization dedicated to granting wishes for children with critical illnesses.[54][55]

Race day attendanceEdit

Year Attendance
1986 60,000
1987 64,000
1988 59,155
1989 61,156
1990 64,245
1991 61,264
1992 65,094
1993 66,225
1994 66,503
1995 68,238
2000 72,976
2001 73,628
2002 73,160
2003 73,255[56]
2004 72,561
2005 73,155
2006
2007
2008 Not held
2009 15,000 est.[57]
2010
2011 25,000 est[58]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "Toronto could shake up title hunt". ESPN. Archived from the original on July 16, 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
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  5. ^ Rogers, Kaleigh (August 13, 2014). "Ferris-wheel highs and nauseating lows from 135 years of The Ex". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
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  8. ^ McDonald, Norris (October 11, 2019). "Farewell to a Canadian auto racing legend". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  9. ^ Charters, David A. (2007). The Chequered Past: Sports Car Racing & Rallying in Canada, 1951-1991. University of Toronto Press. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-0-8020-9394-3.
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  13. ^ Brockington, Robert J. (2001). Aykroyd, Steve; Jones, Neal (eds.). Mosport 1961-2001: Four Decades of Racing. Mosport International Raceway. p. 61.
  14. ^ Walthert, Matthew (June 13, 2017). "Montreal's Legendary F1 Circuit Is Part of the Canadian Grand Prix Allure". Vice.com. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  15. ^ Charters, David A. (2007). The Chequered Past: Sports Car Racing & Rallying in Canada, 1951-1991. University of Toronto Press. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-0-8020-9394-3.
  16. ^ McDonald, Norris (June 10, 2017). "The Canadian Grand Prix has its own, unique story". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  17. ^ Charters, David A. (2007). The Chequered Past: Sports Car Racing & Rallying in Canada, 1951-1991. University of Toronto Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-8020-9394-3.
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  21. ^ "Toronto, Edmonton on 2009 IndyCar Schedule". Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  22. ^ Honda Indy Toronto News Archived December 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
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  24. ^ Westoll, Nick (May 15, 2020). "Coronavirus: City of Toronto summer camps, all major permitted events cancelled until Aug. 31". Global News. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  25. ^ "Multi-year Agreement with Green Savoree Toronto (GST) ULC for Honda Indy at Exhibition Place" (PDF). City of Toronto. September 8, 2020. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  26. ^ [1]
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  29. ^ "2004 Trans-Am Box Scores" (PDF). SCCA Archives. Retrieved April 23, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "2005 Trans-Am Box Scores" (PDF). SCCA Archives. Retrieved April 23, 2013.[permanent dead link]
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  54. ^ "Ten years of Honda Indy Toronto race fan and partner generosity totals more than $820,000". makeawish.ca. July 15, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  55. ^ Sinclair, Adam (November 20, 2019). "Green flag drops on ticket sales for 2020 Honda Indy Toronto". speedwaydigest.com. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
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  58. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 16, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit


Preceded by
Indy Richmond 300
IndyCar Series
Honda Indy Toronto
Succeeded by
Iowa 300