LIVE BLOG: 2014 Honda Indy Toronto

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on July 18, 2014 8:08 am

9:55 AM ET (Paul) — It would appear Steph has already covered a good chunk of the stories on site this morning in her first blog post. What she didn’t cover was the traffic issues fans and participants will deal with all weekend in getting to the track at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

As Steph pointed out, much of the City of Toronto is looking forward to this time next year when the city will be hosting the 2015 Pan-Am Games.  One of the most crippling projects underway is the rehabilitation of the Gardiner Expressway, a major east-west thoroughfare that crosses the Greater Toronto Area on the southern edge of downtown and runs along the shore of beautiful Lake Ontario.  (It also happens to run along the northern edge of the track this weekend along the straight that connects Turn 7 and 8.)  During the best of times, the three-lane highway is often clogged and a source of great frustration for drivers getting into, out of, and around the city.

The current work has the road reduced to two lanes in each direction, and the ensuing traffic snarls are nearly enough to drive a person to the brink.  After driving through the night Wednesday, I spent all day Thursday in my office that is very near the Toronto Pearson Airport northwest of downtown before expecting to enjoy a relaxing evening with Steph and her family.  Typically the drive between the office and downtown is about 20-25 minutes.  After being slightly delayed leaving the office, the trip that began at 4:45 ended only a few minutes before 7:00.

The moral of the story is that no matter how you plan it, if you are coming to the track this weekend, you will be effected negatively by the Gardiner construction.  The traffic will be backed up for kilometres (I know, when in Rome…), and your plan to avoid the disaster by using the side surface streets won’t work.  Trust me, I tried.  The only thing to do is deal with it, realize it will take an eternity to get here, and leave a couple hours earlier than you think necessary.

All that being said, ESPN’s John Oreovicz just stopped by to chat and said his drive in on the Gardiner yesterday afternoon around 3 pm wasn’t terribly maddening.  Apparently there is a magic window.  I wish you the best of luck finding it.  I still advise you to leave very early.

IndyCars will be on track for their first practice shortly.  Steph and I will be back to bring you the updates.


9:08 AM ET (Steph) — Good morning from trackside at the Honda Indy Toronto! Paul and I are both on site and will be updating this live blog all weekend long. Please bookmark us and check in frequently.

Paul and I are both feeling just a tiny bit rough around the edges this morning thanks to spending last night recording what’s becoming an annual tradition, our podcast recorded from my balcony overlooking downtown Toronto. We may have enjoyed a couple of adult beverages — fortunately, nobody counted the bottles sitting on the counter this morning — and we blathered on for two hours just letting our hair down and having a good time talking about IndyCar. We were inspired to do it because we heard from so many of you that you enjoyed it last year, so we hope you enjoy this year’s just as much. You can find that by clicking over to this post: MFW podcast episode 112: The annual balcony podcast.

I just checked the weather forecast on my phone (because hey, this is my home race and so I can actually use my own data here!), and I didn’t like what I saw. The current prediction is for rain and possibly thunderstorms both tomorrow and Sunday. The temperatures are lovely, though, and it looks like storm activity probably won’t be around race time, so maybe it’ll be just enough to make things interesting. We’ll see.

From my seat right now in the media centre (I get to spell it the Canadian way while we’re here), I can see out the window to the front stretch where construction on the hotel that’s being built on the grounds is under way. No, really — I mean it’s under way right now. Crews are out there working away while cars whiz by on track. The hotel is being built to be ready in time for the Pan Am Games happening in Toronto next year and has a rather large footprint between the Allstream Centre (where the media centre is) and pit lane. It’s also necessitated a reconfiguration of pit exit. While cars used to dump out onto the front straight pretty cleanly, there’s now a long stretch just wide enough for a single car and surrounded by concrete barriers that cars need to navigate before rejoining. Any scrapping for position on exiting the pits isn’t going to end well this weekend.

One quick shameless plug before I sign off and let Paul give you his traffic rant (short preview: do not try to drive down here this weekend if you have any choice in the matter): I’m very pleased to be joining Erik Tomas on Raceline Radio for two shows, Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 12:30 PM, on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto. There’s a listen live link available here in case you’d like to follow along.

Over to Paul for his opening thoughts for the weekend!

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