Toronto IndyCar Predictions and Prognostications: Ill-Tempered Edition

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Photo from torontograndprixtourist.com

Soaring temps and a third rate track in a nation of second raters have our blood boiling.

Canada’s lone race on IndyCar’s schedule is one too many, making us especially ill-tempered and downright salty this week. Our special prediction of the weekend is that come Sunday evening following another disastrous so called race north of the border you’ll find yourself in an irritable mood, too. Then – to top it all off – there’s those entitled, over officious border agents to negotiate on the way home.

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Photo from aliexpress.com

Pole prediction perhaps means less at Exhibition Place than most road courses, as the winner’s come from P1 a third of the time lately – the exact same fraction as those winning from eleventh starting position. The other two winners over the last six contests started fourth and fifth, so in wild and wacky Canuck land clearly anything can happen – just look at their juvenile Premier. That’s why we’re going with Graham Rahal snagging his second pole of the season – and only the fourth of his career. He’ll edge Penske’s “Mad” Will Power, angering almost no one.

First out of the race – and this is where our Canuck hosts begin to get hot under the collar – will be hometown boy James Hinchcliffe. Hinch was recently dubbed a “megastar” of IndyCar by the Canadian press, whatever that is. He’s already suffered three DNFs this season and now all of a sudden has a new teammate. Due to all this, unfortunately his temperament won’t be improving come Sunday. Neither will that of his throngs of fans, so be extra vigilant when leaving.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Our biggest surprise of the race will be the result of Continue reading

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Toronto Race Review: Just Say No To TO

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

The Toronto track’s too narrow, ramshackle and winding, making the racing too processional for our tastes. Especially with the recent changes to pit lane and curbs coming apart mid-race – that’s Detroit level awful. It’s high time to reconsider Toronto’s place on IndyCar’s already sketchy schedule.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

A new ‘S’ shaped pit lane is “ridiculous” as Conor Daly rightly called it after the race. Its forty mile per hour speed limit is an embarrassment. If we wanted to see racing at school zone speeds, we’d watch NASCAR. Throw in the extra short pit stalls and it all adds up to a joke. Perhaps thirty years at Toronto’s enough, as the city seems to have grown apathetic toward the series, at least judging by their “track.”

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Photo from gettyimages.com

As quintessential Canuck Paul Tracy said, “they almost made a full lap” before the first wreck. Continue reading

Toronto Predictions And Prognostications: So Sorry Edition

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Photo from usatoday.com

Ontario, Canada plays host to the next round of IndyCar’s summer swing. We’re sorry they’re down to one race on a subpar surface and one driver who’s been subpar lately. Sorry in advance for any crude or boorish behavior on the part of American fans in attendance this weekend – and particularly for what’s coming next.

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Image from flickr.com

A special pre race prediction is that the Canadians will manage to screw up the national anthems again, like they did last year and even at the All Star game this week. Last year’s butchery during the Toronto pre race sounded like alley cats in heat. Sorry, but can they get it right already? Use a frickin’ recording if nothing else.

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Photo from detroitnews.com

This week’s special prediction for the race regards local Canuck favorite, the Mayor of Hinchtown. Continue reading

Toronto Preview: Canadian Token

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Photo from torontosun.com

Part concrete, part asphalt and completely lined with walls, the streets of Toronto often resemble a Canuck concrete car crusher when IndyCar rolls into town. They’ll do so for the thirty second time Sunday in Canada’s token race of the year.

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Photo from torontosun.com

We’ve raised alarms about our northern neighbor’s dwindling presence in IndyCar before; like the sport in general, the Canadian situation has shown little improvement. There’s been talk of a new race way out west in Calgary’s oil patch, but who knows? The schedule’s been so chaotic lately it makes nights out in U.S. cities look tranquil by comparison.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Toronto used to be a double header like Belle Isle, but mercifully they discontinued the practice last year. Consider the move a token of Canadian IndyCar esteem. Continue reading

Fool, Britannia! An IndyCar Intervention

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

Having lived, loved and taught in England, your author has a special fondness in his heart for almost everything British (with the exceptions of the food and weather), but most especially her people. It’s an endlessly historic and fascinating nation full of wonderfully accented, polite and thin folks. As The Stranger once said, “and in English, too.”

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Image from movieactors.com

Continue reading

IndyCar Driver Test: James Hinchcliffe

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Photo from usatoday.com

Popular and slightly off-kilter racer James Hinchcliffe was born outside Toronto in Oakville, Ontario in December, 1986 back when “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Platoon” were also new. After a breakthrough third season in 2013 scoring an impressive three wins, Hinch had a disappointing 2014 and recently changed teams leaving Andretti Autosport after three up and down seasons. That’s not the only conversion the comic Canuck has undergone recently, either.

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Last week the madcap Mayor of Hinchtown announced his signing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in usual style – at an Indy brewery over some “oat sodas.” Before that he became an ordained minister through the wonderful convenience of the web, performing the ceremony at his friend and fellow driver Charlie Kimball’s late September wedding. A few years back, Hinch hilariously dawned a long black wig while replacing Danica (more diva than driver) in the late GoDaddy ride at AA. Today’s question of the quirky, quotable Canadian comedian is, did he pass the driver test?

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Photo from foxsports.com.au

In his fun filled four year IndyCar career, Hinch has a gaudy eighteen top five finishes and thirty four top tens to go with his three wins. He’s also led over four hundred laps in his career, although funnily he’s never earned a pole. A past winner of the Tony Renna Rising Star Award, the racin’ reverend displays obvious driving talent. Even after an off year in 2014, his winning percentage in sixty eight big league races is an impressive 4.4%, better than most in the field. Without question Hinch is in the top half of IndyCar drivers, but that’s not the only part of this rigorous, uncomfortable and thoroughly invasive driver’s test. Now reverend, turn your head and cough.

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Photo from racing.ap.org

The other half of the exam is how well the driver handles media and public relations, as well as interaction with fans. In this regard, James’ talent may well surpass his on track gifts, which are bountiful. From his virtual Hinchtown site to his practical jokes and unorthodox, goofy-cool style, the mayor excels in the realm of media and PR. More than that he embraces his comedic racing role and enjoys it to the hilt, adding some much needed funniness to the sometimes somber, strangely sober series.

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Photo from bostonherald.com

A merry prankster, our humorous man of the (greasy) cloth lightens the mood wherever he goes, his charismatic personality nearly as infectious as a giggling fit in church. Joining his third team in less than five years, Hinch has made light of this inconstancy and likened his wandering ways to that of another waifish star, calling himself “the Taylor Swift of racing.” James is an exceptionally likeable and funny guy who’s not afraid to laugh, especially at himself. That quality translates extremely well in the modern age of racing, media and widespread weirdness.

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Photo from onthego.to

We at IRR salute and congratulate Hinchcliffe on his recent off track accomplishments – for weddings be sure to book early – and commend his silly slapstick style and Python-esque panache to other, less media-savvy drivers in the paddock (most of whom certainly will need a backup career). Hinch is easily the most likeable Canuck since John Candy – at a quarter his size – and along with his WAG is just adorable. How could a guy with the talent, face and personality of our favorite fast funnyman not pass the test? As Sam Schmidt may well have sung to the Rev of revs (and if he didn’t he should have), “Get out of my dreams, get into my car.”

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Glossary of IndyCar Racing Terms

The modern world’s confusing and chaotic enough without new, additional jargon bombarding us and complicating our daily lives. We at IRR realized that complex terminology affects all of us in IndyCar association of states and decided to break it down, as the kids used to say. It’s yet another free service we provide for our fellow fans of fast.

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Relief of Napoleon the wise from his tomb in Paris

Our goal is to make the series we love more understandable to the average ignorant American and therefore more appealing to the entire Idiocracy-trending nation. Obviously IRR aims to please. So here’s our Glossary of IndyCar Racing Terms, with additions surely to come.

 

Aero kits – what used to be called the chassis, or body shape of the car and now are becoming changeable and disposable like an expensive pair of dress socks

BC bud – particularly potent strain of weed, or “chume” as the President calls it from the western Canadian province of British Columbia and one of the few redeeming products out of Canada

Canuck – member of the Canadian race; a derogatory slur – see Paul Tracy as a former example

Chip the Hutt – IRR’s Star Wars bar scene-inspired nickname for Chip Ganassi, head of TCGR

Claire McCaskill – anti-racing U.S. Senator “Buzzkill” and embarrassment from MO

Glossary – a list, usually alphabetized, with additional information and definitions

Helio-ism – an utterance of Helio Castro-Neves, usually grammatically incorrect and always said with a smile

IndyCar association of states – IndyCar’s sleeker, more selective alternative to the overly accepting behemoth NASCAR nation

Kent – the garden spot of England, southeast of London & home of Indy jockey Mike Conway

Kentish – describing a person from Kent, a Kentish jockey for example

Methuselah Mile – IRR’s affectionate Biblical term for Milwaukee, meaning it’s old

Mid-Ohio – predictably poor racing, adequate camping facilities

National Guard – former coveted racing sponsor/militia that spent many millions of taxpayer dollars over several years  for zero ICS wins

Newkid – IRR’s affectionate nickname for Tennessee’s own Josef Newgarden

Off-weeks – breaks in the IndyCar schedule leading to periods of intense boredom, usually due to some event at IMS such as a bike or other series race, that bring about inane posts like this

Parity – close entertaining racing resulting from the use of standardized, spec equipment (see aero kits)

Racing eggs – portable delicious deviled snacks that are a traditional compliment to racing chicken and racing beer, although the resulting flatulence they induce often act as a repellant to racing chicks

Sonoma Testing  – widespread snoring, napping

Sonoma Race – slightly less snoring, napping

Streets of Toronto – concrete car crusher that hosts IndyCar races under “crack smoking” Mayor Rob Ford’s watchful, bloodshot eyes

Tag Heuer – Hour or time of Day (in English)

Twitter – insidious form of social media that cruelly limits the number of characters one can use when trying to solicit complete strangers to read your racing blog

Will Power – certifiable, completely and madly insane Team Penske driver (who’s not surprisingly quite successful)

Zzzzzzzz – the sound emanating from race fans at tracks like Barber, Mid-Ohio & Sonoma

Oh, Canada? Our Diminishing Northern Neighbors

Hot as it gets this time of year, who doesn’t dream of escaping to Canada for a vac-ay? When IndyCar association of states (and please note this doesn’t include provinces) thinks of Canada, do they really think of racing? We at IRR think not.

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Photo from huffingtonpost.ca

Icy cold? Check. BC bud? Check. Inferior football? Uh-huh. Ending every sentence with “-ay”? You betcha! But big league racing? Not so much. In fact IndyCar racing is a diminishing – and one could argue disappearing – entity in the great white north.

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Photo from riderfans.com

Canada’s currently down to one driver in the IndyCar Series. He’s James Hinchcliffe, three time winner for AA and funny guy in the paddock (“Funny? How da f— am I funny to you?!”). Mountie Alert: he’s also not yet under contract for next year. There’s no doubt he’s a talented and colorful Canadian character; however, his species seems to be increasingly endangered. He’s it at present, -ay.

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For Queen Elizabeth’s sake, we used to at least enjoy a little French Canadian flavor with Carpentier and Tagliani – whose wife is quite the dish – but no longer. Then there’s the always popular Jacques Villeneuve, Canada’s version of Michael Andretti except funnier looking and he actually won the 500. Does anyone know why he “came back” for the 500 this year decades after walking away? Did anyone even notice?

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 Bronte Tagliani photos from lazygirls.info

There couldn’t be a column written on Canadian IndyCar (the phrase is just peculiar, isn’t it?) without mentioning Paul Tracy. That is, unless it were written strictly about relevant figures, or even semi-relevant former drivers, or . . .  IRR can write that he’s a decent commentator on NBCSN, but that’s about as far as we’re willing to go.

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The troubles for the Canucks don’t end with PT, either. Our chilly neighbors to the north are down to one race really, it’s just spread out over two days. The concrete car crusher also known as the Streets of Toronto certainly generates lots of revenue for the city (and probably more for Dallara Automobili in Italy). So after nearly thirty years you’d think they’d spring for either all asphalt or all concrete. Jeesh, is it really that hard to figure out guys, -ay?

Remember Edmonton Indy? And Vancouver? How ’bout “The Molson Indy Toronto”? Sadly they’ve all gone the way of Canadian comedy – and almost as rapidly – to that great ash heap of history in the Northwest Territories. Seems to be the long term trend up north: racing in demise. Our concern here -ay, is that Canada and IndyCar may not be at all associable in the future, if they even still are.