Honda Indy not a complete washout for Toronto fans
The first of two weekend Honda Indy races was rained out Saturday after organizers dropped the red-flag twice before finally announcing the cancellation about three hours later.
And yet, the constant rain didn't dampen spirits of fans – many of whom prepared for the active weather by bringing ponchos and umbrellas.
"It looked like the weather was maybe going to clear," said David Martin, 44, who came to the race with his wife Rhonda. "Like all Toronto fans, I think we were cheering for James Hinchcliffe, but just to enjoy good quality racing, no matter who the winner is. It's hard to second guess (race controllers). I'm sure they were trying to do their best for drivers and were waiting as long as possible to try to get the race to the fans."
However, not everyone was as understanding.
"I'm a fan and I'm not going to be a fan anymore after this," said Nino Calapa. "You ripped me off $300. I don't mind for safety reasons, but give me my money back."
Toronto Indy spokesman Kathleen Stelmach said there will not be any refunds issued for people who have Saturday tickets, however, those with Saturday only passes and reserved grandstand seating will have their tickets honored for Sunday's race at Gate 1.
Many started leaving in droves after the second red flag was announced.
Earlier in the day, however, thousands of fans were pumped to see Hinchcliffe, the 27-year-old Oakville race car driver who succeeded Danica Patrick as the driver of the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car for Andretti Autosport.
"I've been a fan since (Hinchcliffe) started racing," said Bill Jones, 56, from St. Catharines, who says he's been a racing fan for 28 years. "It beats the hell out of left-hand turns (on racing ovals). I like the racing (style), but the Canadian representation, you can't beat it."
Hinchcliffe was the only Canadian in the Verizon IndyCar series amongst 23 racers from around the world.
Speaking in the paddock, Hinchcliffe said he is grateful for the fans and even on wet pavement, he said he will excel.
"I'm super proud of being Canadian," he said. "This race is really why I became a fan of racing. To get to be on the other side of the fence is special. The fans are not bandwagoners. When you have a bad weekend, as we've unfortunately we've had here, the support is always here."
When asked if he felt he was Oakville's pride and joy, he laughed.
"I don't know," he said. "We produce some good hockey players and business people in Oakville, but I'll take a part of the mantel, I guess."
Doug McInroy, 59, and his 15-year-old son Reid won a chance through a Toronto Sun promotions contest to meet Hinchcliffe and tickets to the event for the weekend.
"I love the Indy," McInroy said. "The race itself, the speed, the cars. I was at three of the first five Indys. A favorite was Paul Tracy, the first Canadian to win."
Mayor Rob Ford tweeted a few photos of him posing near the pace car during his visit to the Honda Indy.
Ford was seen waving to fans after Canadian legendary racer Paul Tracy took him around the track prior to the big race.
A day before, Tracy tweeted he would take the mayor for a spin around Exhibition Place.
"Giving mayor Rob Ford a thrill ride (Saturday), think I can make him squeal."
Tracy subsequently followed up the tweet Saturday afternoon with, "The mayor liked his ride, he is super cool." Toronto Sun