I like cars. I like to drive cars. I am not "car handy". I can change a tire, in a pinch I could change the oil I know that the engine is the thing in the front of the car though sometimes it is in the back. I enjoy driving, I don't always obey the speed limit, I like to know my car has some pick up to pass trucks etc but I don't enjoy driving particularly fast.
If I won the lottery (you know, the Canadian retirement plan) I would buy a new car but it would not be the first thing on the list. It would be down there a ways after some other significant capitol expenditures and buying a city proclamation that would require everyone in Toronto to refer to me as You Incredible Goofiness.
I am not a fan of auto racing. I can admire the skill involved but it seems a rather dry sport for me, as I don't enjoy driving really fast it holds little appeal. But some of the cars are purty.
But I live in a city where once a year car racing becomes a big deal. I am referring to the Toronto Indy, lately sponsored by Honda. It's a big deal here. Hundreds of thousands of people go down to the lakeshore to watch it over three days and it pumps a lot of money in to the economy. Although I'm not a racing fan it's one of those things I've always supported, good for the fans and good for the city
Last summer was a bit of a write off for Collette and I, having to move sort of sucked us into a black hole and when we emerged it was in the worst Toronto winter in decades. So this summer we've promised ourselves to take advantage of some of the things our city has to offer.
I am not prepared to pay money to see the Indy but as it turns out you don't have to, at least for one day. Fan Friday allows you to go down to the Indy for free with a donation to the Make a Wish Foundation and who can resist the Wish. No racing on that day but all classes of cars running have practices and with a few qualifying races. This past Friday turned out to be a perfect sunny summer day so Collette and I said "Fuck you winter, now we're having some fun"
It's a pretty cool event. You have access to most of the site including the grandstands, food areas etc. No access to pit lane but total access to the paddock area, inside the convention centre, where you can get great views of the cars and even talk to the crews if desired
Although you could not go right into Pit Alley you could look down into it from one of the grandstands and you could stand outside the gate that lead to that part of the track
There are some restrictions to the Indy beyond Pit Alley. Collette was allowed to bring her Nikon DSLR but they made a rather large point about not bringing in any "audio video recording devices" So I decided to not press my luck (coz I basically ain't got any to press) and I did not bring any of my camcorders. Instead I brought our little Panasonic Lumix underwater camera and my iPod Touch both of which of course shoot HD video. Now, Collette's Nikon shoots very good quality HD video at 24 fps but without a tripod or image stabilizer it's not very good at hand held video. The little Panasonic is far from rock solid but trust me it's better. And it does take satisfying snapshots, as does the iPod, all while easily fitting in my pocket
I have to say, it was pretty fun to watch the cars do their thing. There were several classes of cars, Indy and Indy Lite and G4 and G3 and Supertrucks the latter of which we didn't get to see run. I find the Indy cars incredibly exotic, more like space ships than cars, incredibly fast, nicely loud and very difficult for met to relate to .. but yeh, fun to watch
I found that I related a bit more to the GT classes that ran everything from Porsches to Mustangs to Vipers to Cadillacs to Camaro's to Kia's ... yes, Kia's. These were vehicles I recognized as car, yes incredibly highly motivated but it was like "Look, that's a Boss 302" or "that's a Viper, damn people still drive those?" Yes they do, and very very fast
The GT3 class, sponsored by Pirelli, were interesting to me. These were the so called "gentlemen drivers" in other words non professionals (though there were a couple of "factory" drivers) and they ran the Vipers and the Caddies and Ferrari's. Nice hobby. Guess all the spaceships were already spoken for.
Oh, another great thing about the Indy: It boasts the largest event liquor license in Ontario. Which means buy yourself a beer (oh, by the way, an 10 dollar beer) and you can take it with you anywhere on the site, except for one of the bridges. Yeh, OK, I still won't call myself a race fan but I'm starting to dig the Indy.
Here's the video such as it is