Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fat Lip

My oldest dog Hobbes, got an infection in his lower lip the other day. It swelled up so much, it looked like he was working for the squirrels in the backyard, collecting nuts for the coming winter. Thankfully we spotted it right away and got him to the Vet who determined it wasn't anything to be concerned about and prescribed him some antibiotics for the infection. The swelling is already starting to go down, and he has stopped looking like Rocky, and is starting to look more like his old self.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Drive-in Returns

One of Toronto's best kept secrets is back. The drive-in movie theatre at Polson Pier (aka the Docks) is up and running again after being closed all last summer. Located on the eastern edge of the Toronto harbour, in the Portland's, the Polson Pier drive-in is just minutes from the downtown core and offers a unique movie going experience that usually isn't found in the city. Polson Pier does this by converting its golf driving range into the drive-in theatre at night, and now has two screens, which both offer double bills that begins at dusk. I love going to the drive-in, because you can enjoy the movie in the comfort of your own car, and not have to worry about stupid people disrupting you by answering their phone or talking. Plus you can bring your own snacks and drinks and even your dogs. A great way to spend a summer's evening.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where Is This?

A scene right out of a post-apocalyptic zombie movie.
Any idea where this shot was taken?

Lazy Days of Summer

Just your average Thursday afternoon at the beach in the middle of summer. Hard to believe we are already at the end of July; time sure does seem to go by a lot faster when the weather is good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

F1 VS IndyCar

I had the opportunity to watch both the German F1 race and the IndyCar race in Edmonton yesterday. The F1 race was a snoozer right from the start, Alonso went on to win after team mate Massa lets him go by. Team orders are not allowed in F1, but because it was Ferrari no one cares.
IndyCar in Edmonton, drama from start to controversial finish. Paul Tracy goes from back of the pack to finish P6, proving he still has what it takes to run with the big dogs of IndyCar. Tony Kanaan and Alex Tagliani, on different teams, team up from their start at the back of the field and try to cut their way through traffic, like in the movie Driven. It almost works, until Kanaan hits Tag's and ends his day. Helio Castroneves while leading the race, gets black flagged on the second last lap for blocking, and Scott Dixon who did not lead one lap, sitting in second, ends up winning. After the race, uncharacteristically, Castroneves blows a gasket and tries to fight with Sir. Charles, head of IndyCar security. Hands down one of the most exciting races this year. And they say temporary street courses are boring.
Not up here in Canada.
Ferrari pix courtesy of, IndyCar pix courtesy of MSN FoxSports

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Honda Indy Toronto: Final Thoughts

Although the Honda Indy Toronto was much better then it was last year, it still has a long way to go to rival the success of the 90's.
Honda Indy Toronto organizers did a great job of listening to the concerns of fans from last year and correcting a lot of those problems this year. Apparently Andretti promotions the owner of this event is working on a five year plan to bring this event back to something that resembles those good old days.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, a lot of things were done this year at the event that I really liked, like free admission on Friday.

It gave the first time visitor a chance to check out the event and the track, and see what all the fuss was about. I know a few people who had never been before, who went on Friday and liked it so much that they bought tickets and came back on Saturday and Sunday. It also gave the paying fan a chance to try out other seats and area's that they may of not seen before.I also liked where they placed the winner's circle. It gave fans the chance to get up close and personal with their favorite drivers for driver introductions as well as the victory celebrations. You don't see this in F1. Why doesn't Paul Tracy have a full time ride? He is exactly the type of personality this series needs. He may be coming to the end of his career, but this guy can still bring it and proves it every with every opportunity he gets. How many other guys out their in this series can get into mediocre car after not driving a race car for a year and then run with the big boys and bring it home in the top 10. Not many. Paul Tracy can drive the wheels off of just about any car he is given. He tells it like it is and pulls no punches, and isn't afraid to take pot-shots at himself. Something is wrong with the state of racing when this guy can't find a full time ride. The princess is so popular, she even has her own version of the Pope-mobile. I love this track because it is a temporary street course. With just a general admissions ticket you can watch the race from tons of places around the track. The thunder alley grandstands along the Lakeshore blvd backstretch is even open to general admission ticket holders which is pretty cool.It is however, not a great place to take pictures of the on track action. Honda Indy Toronto needs to bring back the super-photo pass for die-hard gear heads like myself. Until they do, I guess I will have to keep on figuring out ways to take pictures that look like there are no fences.A final comment about this year's race. The convention centre was empty, save for one lonely vendor selling sports merchandise. More vendors in the convention centre, and more vendors on thunder alley are need for next year. The on track action was great, but we needed more stuff to do around the track when there wasn't racing going on. We know we live in Toronto and things are expensive. For the love of God, we bought your over priced tickets and paid for your over priced beer, let us bring in a damn bottle of water for crying out loud! There is always room for improvement. This year was pretty good, but I know next year will be even better.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Honda Indy Toronto: Winner's Circle

Another cool thing I liked about this years Honda Indy Toronto was the placement of the victory circle. Usually it is placed in an out of the way place that fans can't get to or the view is blocked by the track fencing and fans miss out on the victory celebration.
Well not this year.
This year the victory circle was placed right in the middle of the track where you couldn't miss it. When you stepped off the Honda bridge into the infield area, there it was. You couldn't miss it and had to walk past it to get to the paddock area. It was also strategically placed right by the pit entrance on the track , which allowed for the winning driver to actually drive his car right into the winner circle area before getting out. It really gave the fans a chance to enjoy in the celebration with the driver, his team and supporters.
Kudos to Honda Indy Toronto for making the change to this years track layout. Another great addition to the fan experience.
Race winner, Will Power drives his car into the winners circle. Dario Franchitti who thought he had this race won until the dying laps still can't believe he came in second. But the thoughts of what could of been are quickly doused by the victory celebrations.As you may be able to tell from his hand gestures, this is Will Power's fourth win this season and he isn't afraid to show it.Here comes the champagne shower..Congratulations to Will Power, this years Honda Indy Toronto winner. Dario Franchitti, was second and Ryan Hunter-Reay third.
Power and his crew pose for a team photo in victory circle.
The victory circle girls and the Firestone Hawk await the winner of the Firestone Indy Lights Series Toronto 100 race.
JK Vernay pulls into winner circle.
JK Vernay, 1st, Dan Clark, 2nd and Gastavo Yacaman 3rd.

Honda Indy Toronto: The Seats

It's a known fact that attendance at the Indy has been in decline ever since the split between the two factions, CART and IndyCar in 2001. Molson's Brewery pulling out as the sole promoter back in 2005 certainly didn't help either. Over the last few years, grandstands have been removed and consolidated in an attempt to make them look fuller to the viewing TV audience. Normally I would buy the special photo-pass available to the general public, but for the last few years this too hasn't been available.
And this year, since I was attending by myself, I didn't want to fork over the cash for gold tickets. I tried to get media accreditation through The adventures of Mad Mal and Hobbes, but unfortunately that did not pan out.
Friday admission to the grounds and all grandstands this year, was paid for by Honda Canada. I decided to take advantage of this. This year there were a couple of new grandstands to choose from, so I decided that I would try them all and see the view that each provided.
I was so impressed with the new views, that I decided to purchase a ticket in the Dr. Pepper grandstand which was located on the final turn 11, right before the front straight and the start/finish line. The grandstand was right by the Honda bridge to the infield and had an amazing view of the pits as well as a huge TV monitor to keep track of what was going on elsewhere on the track during the race.
I have to say I was very impressed with my choice in seats.

Here is the view from my seat.
They called it the Dr. Pepper section because it was sponsored by the soft drink company. And one of the perks with sitting in the Dr. Pepper section was you could drink all the Dr. Pepper you wanted while in the grandstand area.
On Sunday, as an added bonus, we were given a free Dr. Pepper t-shirt, and a free slice of pizza from Pizza Pizza.
But the coolest thing about going with the Dr. Pepper seats? It got me a tour of the Andretti Autosports garage, because they sponsor Marco Andretti. Who knew?
Those of us who had paddock passes and had arrived early, were treated to a guided tour behind the barriers of the Andretti Autosports garage. Good thing we all had our Dr. Pepper t-shirts because part of the requirement to get in was we had to wear them. A small price to pay as far as I was concerned. Some of the cool facts: The drivers steering wheel is their central hub for information about the car, and relays information from the team and track control to the driver. It is worth about $10,000.The top two paddles are for changing gears, the bottom two are for push to pass and pit speed limiter, but can be set up any way the driver desires.Teams use different brake set-ups for different tracks.Everything is super light weight. The entire car weighs approx. 1500 lbs. without a driver.Every component is monitored by computers, so that engineers can learn how a car responds to certain tracks and figure out how to set the car up accordingly to get the best out of it under those specific track conditions.All put together an Indy car is worth about $800,000. And a bare bones team needs about $8-10 million a year to run it, with some of the bigger teams spending somewhere in the range of $20-30 million a year. Wow.
And as a final treat, thanks to my great Dr. Pepper seats, we were taken for a meet and greet with Andretti Autosports driver, Marco Andretti in the private Andretti pit suites. Marco Andretti took the time to pose for pictures with each of us and sign autographs.
How cool was that?
A great job goes out to the Honda Indy Toronto for bringing Dr. Pepper on board as a long term sponsor for this event. It's an expensive weekend, and added bonuses like this really go a long way in making the average fan feel like they got good value for their hard earned money.