2006 Molson Grand Prix of Toronto
By Robert Dysiewicz
Wheel Edge.com Magazine
(Editor's note: this marks the beginning of our partnership with Wheel
Edge. We welcome them to our pages and wish them much success.)
Champ Car racing is for the people – Toronto welcomes the Molson
(right: CHAMPS' Cars: 2003 Champion Paul Tracy hot on the wing of defending
Champ Sebastien Bourdais)
My hat’s off to the organizers of the Toronto Grand Prix. The
spectacle is not only… amazing, exciting, thrilling, on-the-edge-of-the-seat
racing – but also incredibly well organized. This is arguably one
of the most exciting stops on the Champ Car tour.
The event offers something for everyone. Racing fans, sport fans, the
hip crowd, business community, young and old alike are assured a great time
at the Indy (oops, the event is now called the Grand Prix).
Although TV rendition offers more complete coverage by blanketing the course
with cameras, there is no substitute for the real deal – being there
First, there is the sound. The explosive nature of a race bred motor,
the popping of blow-off valves and the shriek emitted at 14,000 rpm+ generates
what can only be described as an audible orgasm. Body, mind and spirit
are treated to an instant shot of adrenaline thanks to a turbocharged, 2.65-litre
(161 cubic inches) V-8 burning Methanol and delivering 750+ hp. Vital
statistics compare favorably with F1: 0-60 mph in 2.2 seconds, 0-100 mph in 4.2
seconds and a top speed in excess of 240 mph.
Scent is the second sense to receive a wake-up call. As you get closer
to track side action, the air becomes filled with unmistakable aroma of burning
fuel and rubber. They should really bottle the stuff – or at least
make air fresheners out it…
The visual completes the picture – and how!!! No TV camera or
still photograph can accurately convey the sheer velocity of a Champ Car. At
full speed, so much air is displaced by the speeding mob of cars, that the
sensation is felt deep within the body. Corner entry and acceleration
speeds border on unbelievable – as if someone pressed the fast forward
button – zip, pop, zzzzoom and they’re gone!
I started this article by saying – ‘Champ Car racing is for the
people’… well, there is a reason.
In addition to the reasons described above, the deal maker has to be the deliberate
attempt by event organizers to make the spectacle fan friendly. At this
event, the fans are invited into team garages where cars, mechanics, managers
and drivers all intermingle on the paddock. Drivers can be seen cruising
around on pit bikes (bicycles) handing out autographs and granting picture
ops to anyone who asks.
And if you find yourself at the event because your significant other dragged
you out against your wishes – don’t worry. The GP has something
for everyone. Demonstrations, games, concerts, food and booze guarantee
to entertain even if the racing does not… people-watching alone is worth
the price of admission!
As for the results, after an intense 86 laps sprinkled with some crashes (Katherine
Legge, Jan Heylen, Nelson Philippe and Oriol Servia), great pit strategies
and on-track bravado, A.J. Allmendinger (Team Forsythe) emerged victorious. In
second, Paul Tracy of Toronto gave the Forsythe Team a one-two finish. Joining
A.J. and Paul on the podium in third was the Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais (Newman/Hass
Excellent race, excellent event – until next year…
For more info on the race and on CHAMP Car racing, visit their web site here.