INDIANAPOLIS – When scrolling through the weekly driver quotes ahead of this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto (3 p.m. ET/CNBC/INDYCAR Radio Network) one thing stands out – their love for the city and the Canadian fans. Nearly every driver entered for this weekend’s race raved about the street circuit in Exhibition Place.
The only other three tracks I’ve seen this much love for this season are Indy, Long Beach and Road America. Toronto is just as important to win for the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers in this weekend’s 85 Lap race than the previous three mentioned.
“Toronto is a special race for all of us,” Graham Rahal said ahead of this weekend’s race. “It’s always a fun, great atmosphere and a track I really enjoy. I think the Canadian fans always love and respect what we do and come out and support us in big numbers.”
The entire Chip Ganassi Racing stable feels the same way, citing the atmosphere as a primary reason too.
“Toronto is easily a favorite stop on our tour,” said Charlie Kimball. “The city is so vibrant, and the Canadian fans at the track help make the weekend a lot of fun for us drivers, too.”
“Toronto is one of my favorite stops on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule,” Tony Kanaan echoed. “The atmosphere is a lot of fun to race in and the history is so strong.”
Two different drivers basically saying the same thing.
How about a third?
“Toronto is just a great city and I love going there,” their teammate Max Chilton said. “The Canadian fans always show up and are into the race and follow along very closely.”
Defending series champion Simon Pagenaud agrees with them to even going as far as saying that the food and restaurants are a huge hit with him.
“It’s a great city with the best restaurants you can find,” said the Team Penske driver. “I love going there. It’s a classic event for INDYCAR.” His teammate Josef Newgarden feels the same way.
“Toronto is a really great place,” said the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet. “It’s a fun city that really gets behind the race, so it’s hard not to love that.”
How about some more compliments?
“Toronto is such a great track and is a great city, it’s one of my favorite cities to go to,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay. His teammate Marco Andretti agrees saying, “I really love driving the streets of Toronto and love the Canadian fans who come out for the show. They’re really enthusiastic about racing and I think we can put on a good show for them.”
Rookie Ed Jones said even if he didn’t race there before, Toronto still ranks among his favorite races to watch.
“Toronto is one of my favorite races on the calendar, even if I didn’t do that great there in Indy Lights,” the Dale Coyne Racing driver said.
Need I say any more?
This is a big race for these drivers and it says a lot about how passionate the fans North of the border are. The Honda Indy Toronto will be the 33rd Indy car race on the streets of Exhibition Place. The race marks the 50th anniversary of Indy car racing in Canada. Indy cars first raced at Mosport (now Canadian Tires Motorsport Park) in Bowmanville, Ontario in 1967. Twin 100-mile races were scheduled and Bobby Unser won both, though the second race was cut short because of rain.