“It’s the only chance that you get to speed through the streets of Toronto without getting a speeding ticket.”
On the heels of the announcement surrounding a new series sponsor for NASCAR’s Canadian tour, NASCAR announced that they will return to the streets of Toronto in 2016. The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be the feature event as part of the Saturday during Honda Indy Toronto weekend, which is set to take place July 15 thru 17.
NASCAR and Green-Savoree group announced a partnership that will see the series featured in Toronto over the next three years, something that is huge in NASCAR’s books.
“Everybody in Canada knows that the street race here in Toronto is steeped in history, it’s a renown venue and iconic,” George Silbermann, NASCAR Vice President of Regional and Touring Series, said. “So having the series run here is huge. We’re very appreciative of our friendships at Green-Savoree. We’ve had a relationship with our NASCAR XFINITY Series at Mid-Ohio. There’s been discussions, but really happened here is an alignment of the stars. It’s very exciting.”
The 2016 edition of the Honda Indy Toronto will mark the 30th year of the event. Along with the NASCAR series, the stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series will take center stage, with their main event scheduled for the Sunday of the weekend. Honda Indy Toronto officials have also announced that the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda will also be racing on the streets of Toronto that weekend.
“It means a lot,” Jeff Atkinson, President of the Honda Indy Toronto, said. “To have a second feature race on the Saturday to compliment our IndyCar weekend, it allows us so much opportunity to connect with a lot of event-goers and fans. We’re excited to have the NASCAR Pinty’s Series at the track.”
The Honda Indy Toronto is an event that attracts many people to come throughout the three-day weekend, with 12% of the audience coming from outside of Ontario.
“It allows us to connect with motorsports fans and event-goers both inside the city and outside of the city, and to the extent, outside of the province and country,” Atkinson added. “I think this event, unlike others where you’re cheering for a single team, allow us to come up with such a broader audience and fan base.”
Under the NASCAR banner, the stock cars have only raced on the temporary street course twice, with Andrew Ranger taking the victory in both 2010 and 2011. Before NASCAR took over the CASCAR Series, the series was part of the event in Toronto from 2001 to 2005. The event back on the schedule is something that the drivers are very welcome to, from both a racing and marketing standpoint.
“That is something that the series has needed for awhile now,” 2015 series runner-up Jason Hathaway commented. “Getting back down in as big a market as downtown Toronto brings another tool in trying to sell sponsorship, and that’s what we needed. It’s been a long time coming. I’m not a road course guy, kind of an oval guy – but it’s cool. We need to be here. It’s good for the series.”
“It’s definitely great for the series,” reigning series champion Scott Steckly said. “It’s definitely great for sponsors in the series. Racing on the streets of Toronto is always fun. It’s very big for the series to be back in Toronto.”
After kicking off the inaugural tour in 2007, this year marks the ninth season of Canadian NASCAR competition, with action coast to coast featuring a variety of street courses, road courses and ovals. The series has become known for the door-banging, fender rubbing action on the ovals, to go along with the close, right down to the wire finishes on the road and street courses.
Along with this announcement, Silberman added that he is “very close” to announcing the rest of the schedule; it was just matter of finalizing some of the dates with tracks. Currently, it looks as though the schedule will consist of 11 to 12 races.