Toronto – Indy Weekend

View of pits and Gold Grandstand
View of pits and Gold Grandstand

In July, an event occurs in Toronto that literally assaults the senses. Many people who live near the Exhibition grounds leave the city for the three days of the Molson Indy. Others protest against the event because of the noise and the disruption to normal traffic patterns.

Paul Tracy whizzing by
Paul Tracy whizzing by in car 26

During these three days, cars race through the Exhibition grounds. The start-finish line is on Princes Boulevard between the National Trade Centre and the Automotive Building. The course then turns right onto Lakeshore Boulevard, then back into the Exhibition grounds along Ontario Drive, Manitoba Drive, Nova Scotia Avenue, then back to Princes Boulevard.

Cristiano da Matta leaving the pits
Cristiano da Matta leaving the pits

The main event is the CART Championship Series race on the last day of racing. This year, the home-town favorite, Paul Tracy, qualified in second place behind Cristiano da Matta. For much of the race, Tracy kept pace behind da Matta, but dropped back, and later pulled out of the race due to problems with the brakes on his Lola-Honda car. Da Matta started in first place, and kept that position for the entire race.

Fernandez team
Team of Adrian Fernandez hamming it up for the cameras

But the CART race wasn’t the only race that weekend. Other races included the Barber Dodge Pro Series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, the CASCAR Super Series Race, and finally the Formula F-1600 Series race, considered the first level of “pro” racing.

Ashley Taws in F-1600 Race
Ashley Taws racing in her “Barbie” car in the F-1600 race

The other big story of the 2002 Indy weekend was the F-1600 race. The pole position was held by rookie Ashley Taws, the 18 year old from Newmarket who finished her previous race in third place. Unfortunately, a poor start and engine trouble put her at the back of the pack less than half-way through the first lap. She still managed to battle her way back up to fourth place at the end of the 20 lap race. Who knows where she would have ended up if the race lasted a few laps longer, or if there hadn’t been a couple of yellow-flag laps?

Racing fan Racing fan
A couple of racing fans, Hans and John