The Honda Indy Toronto will feature a Formula One-style standing start to get the first race going on Saturday and then revert to the traditional IZOD IndyCar Series rolling start on Sunday for the second race, the league announced on Tuesday.
I’d thought they were going to do it the other way – rolling on Saturday and standing on Sunday – but a bulletin sent out by the series Tuesday stipulated that the standing start would be used for Race 1 in Toronto on Sat., July 13, so that’s the way it will be.
The IndyCar Series and the promoters of the Honda Indy Toronto had been looking for something to differentiate the two races and I’d suggested that they run the first one on Saturday the traditional way – clockwise through the streets of the CNE – but then on Sunday to run the second race the other way around the track – counterclockwise – which would really make for a different race.
I was surprised when Charlie Johnston, vice-president and general manager of the event, told me that my idea had been discussed but that ASN-FIA Canada, which governs all of motorsport in Canada, had said no because of a lack of runoff areas and other safety features that would come into play if the cars were going "the other way."
Well, it was worth a shot.
So then they came up with the idea of a standing start, which will be the first in the history of the IndyCar Series (Champ Car and CART tried a couple, but not the IRL).
There is no doubt they are very exciting. They are also very dangerous. Let’s cross our fingers that everything comes off the way it's supposed to.
Here are the rules, as set out by IndyCar on Tuesday. After the qualified cars drive behind a pace car for a formation lap, they will take their starting positions "with the front wheels of the car remaining within its designated orange grid line" The directive continues:
"A five-second declaration will be made via radio by the Race Director prior to the start of the light sequence. The starting sequence will begin when the first two rows of red lights on the (cockpit) lighting panel illuminate. The red lights will continue to fill from the bottom of the light panel two rows at a time, for a total of six steps (12 rows).
"Once the panel is filled with red lights, there will be a delay between .5 and 3 seconds and the panel will switch to all green lights and the race will begin.
"False Start - A false start shall be declared when a car moves forward or is out of its assigned position before completion of the light sequence. A penalty will be imposed for a false start.
"Aborted Start - The Race Director can declare an aborted start before the final row of red lights is illuminated on the lighting panel.If the start is aborted, the full-course caution lights will be turned on.
"In the event of an aborted start, a rolling start shall be implemented. Any Competitors whose actions result in an aborted start will move to the rear of the field.
Standing starts will be implemented at Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on July 13 and the Shell/Pennzoil Houston Grand Prix on Oct. 5. Race 2 of the doubleheader weekends will utilize traditional rolling starts."
So there you have it. Good luck to all drivers.
By the way, Paul Tracy will be racing a truck Sunday in one of the Robby Gordon SuperTruck races. I suggest he will win – or crash trying.
The Grand Marshal for this year’s Honda Indy wll be NHL star and newest Toronto Maple Leaf saviour David Clarkson.
Last year, Clarkson was at the race and met Graham Rahal, as both men worked to raise awareness for their respective charities. Rahal is said to be a huge hockey fan and allegedly asked Clarkson to sign with another blue team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Clarkson knows what it means to bleed blue and signed with the team synonymous with that phrase, the Maple Leafs.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races on Saturday and Sunday will feature 10 Canadians from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec in the 30-driver field.
The driver leading the points going into the Toronto races, Scott Hargrove, 18, of Vancouver, won three of the first five races of the season.
"As soon as the schedule was released, I circled Toronto as the crown jewel for me this year," he said in a release. "The Toronto GP will be a combination of many things I love – my home country, a street circuit and a race in conjuction with IndyCar. Being the points leader and being a Canadian in a Canadian race has certainly made me very excited for this weekend."
Garett Grist, also 18, of Whitby, Jesse Lazare, 16, of Montreal and Stefan Rzadzinski, 20, from Edmonton also have high hopes for Toronto. Dalton Kellett of Toronto, Daniel Burkett of Winnipg, Steve Bamford of Toronto, Sergio Pasian of Quebec City, James Dayson of Vancouver and Ryan Verra from Calgary are the other Canadians in the series for the Toronto races.
Hargrove, Grist and six of the others were featured in April in a cover story in Toronto Star Wheels about young Canadians having to leave the country in order to further their racing ambitions.
Meantime, Hargrove, Grist, Lazare and Rzadzinski are finalists for this year’s Team Canada Scholarship, which will field a pair of cars at the presetigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England, next October.
Several of these drivers – Hargrove and Grist are two – will join IndyCar star Simona De Silvestro for a visit to the Hospital for Sick Children Thursday.
The two USF2000 races will be sponsored by Analystic Systems of British Columbia. According to a release, Analytic Systems is a leading high performance power conversion manufacturer based just outside Vancouver in the city of Delta.
"In business for over 30 years, Analytic Systems is currently ranked fifth on the "Business in Vancouver" list of the biggest B.C, alternative energy companies. Its products include battery chargers, voltage converters, DC/AC inverters, power supplies, frequency converters and MPPT solar charge controllers for key markets including the military, rail and transit, commercial marine, telecommunications and oil and gas."
Good to see Canadian companies getting behind racing in Canada – and Canadian racers.