Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Toronto Indy Sure Knew How to Rev Our Engines!

A Real Girl Travels guest post by Sarah Evans and Cody Hannath

The Honda Indy Toronto promised that this year’s event would be nothing short of exhilarating, and exhilarating it was! The afternoon was a whirlwind of activities, starting with a behind-the-scenes look at the race cars and lots of food and beer. Sadly, the event ended prematurely due to weather, leaving us wanting just a little more.

Honda trucks lining the entrance
These trucks lined the entrance to the Indy with all the names of the racers
Our adventure began the minute we stepped off the bus that brought us right to the Direct Energy Centre. We immediately headed to the IndyCar paddock, the route to which provided us a sneak peek at the Acura Sports Car and Support Series Paddock. We found this particularly interesting as these were all high-end cars using the track as a testing facility. After sweet talking a lovely older gentleman into letting us touch an Aston Martin, we made our way into the IndyCar paddock.

Mechanic tuning an Aston Martin
We convinced him to let us touch the car for a dollar. We touched it and he didn't take our dollar!
The IndyCar paddock was what got our engines revved. We grabbed some beers and proceeded to check out some fast cars and the muscle behind them. The cars that the pit crews were working on were the actual ones that would be hitting the racetrack in less than an hour. We picked the perfect time to visit as we caught the frantic final preparations before the race. Between the racers decked out in full gear and the crew members screaming into their headsets, it was truly exhilarating. You could feel the electricity in the air, and it was impossible not to get swept up in the pure adrenaline rush that coursed through the grounds. We got to watch the last minute diagnostics and tune-ups on the cars, and witnessed firsthand the sense of urgency that precedes the beginning of a race.

Pit crew working on a car
We were able to get close to a few crews working on the cars

Not able to get close to the pit crew
And not so close to others
All this action made for some hungry girls. Food was not hard to find, as what had been dubbed "tastefest" by the Indy organizers was stationed right past the paddock. Tastefest featured numerous food trucks and stands, all set up around a wide area filled with picnic tables. To make things even better, tiny beer carts
were set up all around, coupled with two larger beer tents.

The seating area for Tastefest
Lots of seating in "Tastefest" at the Toronto Indy.
At this point the rain, which was just dripping before, turned into a full-on downpour. This turn of events clearly called for some fresh beers. We first sampled the Muskoka Brewery Craft Lager - pretty tasty. For our second round we bypassed the Mad Tom and Cream Ale, only because we had tried them before, and went straight to their Detour and Dark Ale. We then switched over to Amsterdam Brewery. Already being familiar with their Amsterdam Blonde, Boneshaker IPA and Big Wheel Amber, and after trying their 416 Local Lager, we went for the girly beer: a raspberry wheat ale brewed out of Kawartha Lakes Brewery. It was delicious, the perfect summertime beer with just the right amount of raspberry tartness. It immediately became our go-to.

A rainy selfie of us drinking beer.
Making the best of a rainy day by enjoying some tasty beers!
Any seasoned beer drinker knows that with the perfect beer comes the perfect food pairing. With over ten food trucks to pick from, the choices seemed endless. We settled on SWAT, sandwiches with a twist. Nothing like some pulled meat to fuel a girl’s fire. Between our pulled wiener, pulled pork and authentic Montreal poutine, we were stuffed. After grabbing another beer to wash it all down, we made our way to the grandstands ready to take in some men with a serious need for speed.

The menu for S.W.A.T.
So many options for a hungry girl
After finding our seats (and wiping them down with stolen paper towels), we were ready to let the Indy race spark our engines. We waited, and waited, and waited. The race that was scheduled to start at 3:55 p.m. was yellow flagged, with even the pace car not being able to handle the curves ahead of it. Due to visibility, the race was red flagged.

The view of the track from our seats
The view of the track from our seats in the pit area

With the distant promise of a green flag flying over our heads, we slowly got more and more wet until the race was finally called off.  An inherent sense of disappointment was apparent among the crowd, but the weather conditions could not be debated.

We left the Indy wanting more, but still feeling relatively satisfied. We were teased with what an actual race could have offered, but it gave us a taste of what we would have seen. Watching the cars speed around the track on a yellow flag was excitement itself, and listening to their engines roar was sensory overload. While we got to see only the tip of what the Toronto Indy had to offer, we will definitely be back for more next year!

Some Toronto Indy Highlights:
  • Clean, indoor, line-up free washroom facilities

  • Helpful, enthusiastic volunteer staff

  • Great food trucks and beer vendors

  • Rain ponchos and umbrellas available for easy purchase

  • Misting stations (had it stayed hot and humid)

  • Huge indoor space capable of housing most of the crowd once it started raining, but also offering a view of the track

  • A lot of directional signage to easily find your way around

  • Civic through the years exhibit, showcasing how much the Honda Civic has evolved

Honda Civics through the years
A portion of the Honda Civic through history exhibit
A special thanks goes out to Honda Indy Toronto and Honda Canada for inviting their rained-out Saturday fans to come back for more fun on Sunday, by honouring their Saturday tickets. That’s some Canuck love right there!And while Sam Williams was lucky enough to meet James Hinchcliffe at Honda's Tame the Track, we were happy to settle for this sexy cardboard cutout!

Us gals in front of a James Hinchcliffe cardboard cutout
It's not the actual James Hinchcliffe, but this cardboard cutout will do!
Were you at the Honda Indy Toronto this past weekend? If so, let us know what you thought about it below in the comments, or on Twitter or Facebook.


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