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In The Spotlight: Honda Indy Toronto Grand Prix
This game-day guide has everything you need to know for the best Honda Indy motorsports experience.
The Honda Indy Toronto is a Grand Prix Indy Car race that is a real highlight for any motorsports fan. One of only seven Canadian circuits and the second-longest running street race of any of the IndyCar events, the Honda Indy Toronto stands out from the pack. The total course length is 2.84 km, with 11 turns — including a tighter-than-ever final curve near Lake Shore Boulevard.
Not only that, the race has been part of the city’s history for over a century, all the way back to 1918 when the Canadian National Exhibition included demonstrations of some of the first indy cars in existence.
Since 1986, the Honda Indy has taken place on a temporary street course close to its roots in a grandstand at Exhibition Place. Today, it continues to run through the same grounds by Lake Ontario that were developed for the Canadian National Exhibition.
Things to do at the Honda Indy Toronto
Because the street racecourse is temporarily constructed especially for the Honda Indy Toronto festival itself, a visit to this Grand Prix is a mix of special event facilities and the city itself. There’s a lot to do on race weekend, from the Indy itself to numerous family-friendly side events and special opportunities for fans.
Honda Fan Friday, for example, gives Indy superfans a chance to nab free admission in exchange for a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada and includes stunts, contests, meet-and-greets with drivers, and other off-track excitement that adds to the overall festival atmosphere.
The Honda Speed Zone is specially designed for smaller kids and their parents to take a championship podium group photo, practice ‘driving’ skills on balance bikes, and pick up special treats like cotton candy.
Older kids may appreciate Honda World, where you can get your face painted, try virtual reality gadgets, and learn more about the history of Canadian motorsports and contemporary dirt biking.
Places to eat in or near Honda Indy Toronto
There are a number of places to eat and drink in and around Honda Indy Toronto and Exhibition Place, from beer gardens just off the track to nearby waterfront restaurants, sports bars, and fast food joints.
Honda Indy Toronto Beer Gardens
Several beer gardens dot the Honda Indy Toronto festival grounds, including the Miller Lite Deck and two trackside options — Turn 4 and Pinty’s Pub and Grill. They have a full state license and an array of domestic and import brews.
Thunder Alley features a number of eateries in addition to off-track entertainments. Sports fans of all stripes will be happy to see Pinty’s, which also partners with the National Hockey League. There’s Pizza Pizza, plus some classic Canadian Tim Hortons.
St. Louis Bar and Grill and The Morning After
Outside Exhibition Place, there are a number of restaurants where you can enjoy a bite to eat or pregame a little before hitting the track. On Bremner Boulevard, St. Louis Bar and Grill is a chill chain with ribs, wings and other pub food that will help fuel a long day at the track. Or head to The Morning After, a hip brunch spot with smart hair-of-the-dog cocktails and a hearty menu.
Fast food near Honda Indy Toronto
If you’re looking for the quickest bite before presenting your tickets at the gate, there are a number of fast casual options close to Exhibition Place and Lake Shore Boulevard, including a Starbucks, a Dairy Queen, a Boba Boy, and a Tim Hortons.
Fun facts about Honda Indy Toronto
- The first indy car to make an appearance in Canada was the Peugeot driven to victory by Dario Resta at the 1916 Indianapolis 500
- Michael Andretti, son of the famous race car driver Mario Andretti, has won more races at the Toronto Indy than any other driver, with a whopping seven victories
- The first-ever street race iteration of the motorsports event was called the Molson Indy Toronto after Molson Breweries, the sponsor at the time
- While the race sponsorship title has changed hands several times over the decades, it’s been known as the Honda Indy Toronto since 2009
- If the Honda Indy Toronto looks familiar, it might be because the Grand Prix made an appearance in the 2000 film Driven starring Sylvester Stallone
How to get to the Honda Indy Toronto
By streetcar: The 509 West Streetcar and 5111 South Streetcar will both stop at Exhibition Loop from Union Station in Old Toronto and Bathurst Station near The Annex and Mirvish Village, respectively.
By car: You can either purchase a parking pass or ticket that includes parking to get an on-site spot at nearby Medieval Times or try to find street parking, a garage, or a private lot near Exhibition Place — which can get quite competitive ahead of race day. Taking public transportation is advised.
By train: It’s super easy to get to the Honda Indy Toronto races by train, even if you’re travelling from outside Ontario. Union Station connects the Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, and local streetcars that will get you closer to Exhibition Place. The Union Pearson Express train also connects the Toronto Pearson International Airport to Union Station downtown.