Tomas Tales: Changes and Dirt as we Slide into August

Tomas Tales August 4th

We need to apply the brakes to the summer of 2014, even though the wet cool weather to date has many wondering when the heat and humidity we’re accustomed to in this neck of the woods will actually arrive!

As we get into the final full month of a summer that is still passing us by way too quickly, let’s back up slightly for a recap.

For only the second time in the 28 years they’ve run IndyCar races on the Lakeshore in Toronto, rain messed up the weekend schedule at The Honda Indy Toronto.

IndyCar tried twice to get race # 1 of the double header started on the Saturday, but red flagged both attempts, when the standing rain water caused not only Will Power and Ryan Briscoe to spin out, but even the pace car slid off on a track so slippery and dangerous, they could not and would not start the event.

IndyCar wasn’t going to send cars out in treacherous conditions, despite the absurd suggestion by critics they should have started the race behind the pace car because IndyCar boasts they race in the rain on road and streets.

Yes, the same pace car that slid off the track because pooling water took away the grip entirely!

IndyCar does race on road and streets, but not when conditions are so bad you have no traction and no visibility.

It meant the event came down to a pair of shortened races on Sunday, and looking for a silver lining, I loved the sprint-style 65 lap dashes! No time to waste! Just go as fast as you can and hope you don’t run out of ethanol!

Sebastien Bourdais used that to perfection to win race # 1.

The rain returned to mess up the strategy in race # 2, but Mike Conway made a bold call to go back to slick tires as the racing groove dried, and that grabbed him the win.

His Ed Carpenter team is coached by our good friend Lee Bentham, so there is a Canadian connection to the “little” single-car team and their 3 wins to date this season.

We had to change plans on the fly around the weather with our Raceline/Sportsnet 590 The FAN trackside coverage, but in the end, we aired some entertaining driver interviews and enjoyed some spirited bench racing with our listeners.

Thanks to all who stopped by to say hello, and to remind me exactly how long Raceline has been covering the Toronto Indy!

As we head into the new month of August, there are big changes afoot for next year.

The Indy this year ran a week later so it wouldn’t compete with the final of the World Cup soccer tournament, but now reports have the Toronto double header running in June in 2015 for two reasons.

Houston doesn’t want to run again in the suffocating Texas heat and humidity in July, and will demand a schedule shift that will impact other events.

In addition, The Pan-Am Games in Toronto next summer will be using Exhibition Place property, namely BMO Field, so the move to June makes sense in both situations.

Toronto Indy management is currently talking with IndyCar to get a date for next year finalized.

The July-August transition is also big on dirt… dirt tracks that is!

You likely are aware our roots are still firmly planted in the clay tracks in and around Southern Ontario, Quebec, Western New York and the North East.

The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series staged their annual summer Canadian Tour and former champ and Raceline Radio guest Donny Schatz swept the trio of stops at Autodrome Drummond, Drummondville Quebec, Cornwall Ontario and Ohsweken near Brantford Ontario.

In the Golden Horseshoe, the Niagara end, August is Big Block DIRT Modified time. The same sanctioning body that stages the World of Outlaws SprintCars and Late Models, also present the dirt modified machines also featured in weekly shows at Niagara Region speedways.

But it’s the Big Block Touring Modifieds, powered by stout 800 horsepower 467 cubic inch V-8 engines that fill the grandstands with ground-pounding 100 lap main events at back-to-back shows at Merrittville Speedway in St.Catharines Ontario, and Canadian-owned Ransomville Speedway, Ransomville NY.

Humberstone Speedway just outside Port Colbourne Ontario draws a huge crowd in August for their All-Canadian Championship for Sportsman Modifieds.

Right across the Raceline Radio Network, there are numerous major attractions to enjoy as we rapidly move out of July into August, prime-time for the sport at the local and regional level, as we see how the NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One campaigns play out.