The Highs and The Lows
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 9, 2006 — Is Toronto missing some buzz? Maybe yes, maybe no. But, one thing not missing is exciting race, whether it be with the Champ Cars, the Atlantics, or even with another runaway victory by J.R. Hildebrand in Formula Ford 2000.
A Quieter Buzz. I honestly don't know what to make of this year's Molson Grand Prix of Toronto. On the one hand, it was typical Toronto -- lots of press, enthusiastic crowd, hot babes, and apparently a good time by all.
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On the other hand, in some ways the crowd was disappointing. And at times, the buzz just wasn't there. A new promoter took over this event, as Kevin Kalkhoven bought the race from Molson Entertainment. The promotion for the race was very prominent around Toronto, and they even spent money running more TV and radio ads in Western New York (Buffalo and Rochester). Toronto is a very cosmopolitan town, and that is good and bad for an international racing series. This year it was bad, because a lot of interest was in the World Cup. Many at the race knew a lot of people who just weren't going to go to the race, choosing instead to stay home and watch the soccer final.
The paddock area was rearranged, and some things were placed in a seemingly chaotic fashion, especially the stage which seemed to be off in a corner. The enthusiasm of the crowd during the Miss Molson Grand Prix of Toronto just didn't seem to be as strong as before. Some of this was due to the large area cordoned off for the construction of the new soccer stadium where the old Exhibition Stadium sat. This will not be an issue next year when the stadium is completed.
Ticket prices for the key grandstands were way down from a number of years ago. Lower ticket prices are certainly great for the fans, but it gives a very good idea of the interest for the race. Supply and demand always rules. The program, once a full fledged size filled with information was a flimsy scaled down size in both dimension and pages, more appropriate for a playbill at a theatre than one of the top races in Champ Car.
I don't want this to appear to be a doom and gloom piece. At least I certainly hope not. Some events worked against the race this year. That happens occasionally. Some things, however, did work in favor for this year's event. The weather all weekend could not have been more perfect -- sunny with never a threat of rain, low 80s, and low humidity. The race itself was an exciting and fun race with a number of passes for key positions. And the crowd certainly was in it when the green flag fell for the final restart.
While Cleveland had a decided uplift in their buzz as they are on an upward trend to revive their race, Toronto seemed to stumble this year. It still had a buzz, but it was a little quieter this time.
Frantic Atlantic Pit Action. The first lap crash, or rather, the first lap crashes in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda left many wounded cars in pit lane, including some of the big names in the series -- Graham Rahal, Andreas Wirth, Tim Bridgman, and Carlos Mastretta. Points are ultra important in this ultra competitive series, so the pit crews did whatever it took to get their drivers out there, including measures that were quite eye opening.
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The Forsythe Championship Racing team took a more orthodox approach to the heavy damage suffered by Wirth in the right front corner. They replaced the lower A-arm which required taking apart nearly the entire corner. Sure, they lost many laps, but it was still amazing to watch them do a job that should take a lot longer. Of course, there was no time for an alignment. The only hope they could provide their driver was the idea that they hopefully had the spare suspension pieces setup relatively similar before putting it on, and that nothing else got tweaked to throw the alignment out.
That wasn't the case as Wirth eventually went back out, but had to suffer with a car that barely could go in a straight line. He went as far as he felt he could and after knowing they gained whatever positions they could, they called it quits.
Meanwhile, the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team took the approach of getting Rahal out as fast as possible. This meant doing whatever they could to unbend a bent tie-rod. This included sticking it under the pit wall and trying to muscle it back into place. A pry bar was tried next. Then, it really got wild when the mechanic starting whacking the piece against the edge of the pit wall to get it somewhat straight. Eventually, they decided to put it back on, and amazingly, Rahal went out and turned the fastest lap of the race. Rahal ended up retiring for good with tire problems.
Mastretta's crew wasn't able to get their car back on track with their beat up suspension, and Bridgman's crew worked a long time on the right rear before realizing they could not fix the problem in time to get their driver back out.
Gross Error. It's one thing to make typographical errors. It's even one thing to make out and out errors. Perhaps, a really bad error can slip by with forgiveness. I certainly have made my share of horrible mistakes in my writing.
However, when an official media guide is printed, one that will be dependent upon by many other news outlets which will spread and propagate those errors, it's really important that accuracy is maintained. Then, when that media guide is just filled with errors, some quite horrible, the reputation of the entire media guide is completely shot.
This is the case with the official Molson Grand Prix of Toronto 2006 Media Guide. The worst error occurs in the first sentence on the history of the Champ Car World Series: The Champ Car World Series was formed in 1978 by racing greats U.E. "Pat" Patrick, Roger Penske, and A.J. Foyt under the name of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART).
A.J. Foyt? A.J. FOYT?! Of all the names in racing to mistakenly list as founding CART, you couldn't have picked one that is more wrong than A.J. Foyt. If he ever heard about this, he would bitch slap the person who wrote it.
They also state that the first CART race was at Portland. That should be Phoenix. It also tries to claim Toronto is the "crown jewel" of the series. Now, I love Toronto. I love Canada. And, Toronto is certainly a great event, perhaps the second best on the circuit. But, crown jewel? I think Long Beach would have something to say about that.
I'm sure there are more, but I got fed up reading it.
A media guide of this importance really should have been proofread by the respective series news managers before being allowed to go out.
Copyright © 2006 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.