Honda Indy Toronto reveals absolutely stacked lineup for 2014

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Last year’s Honda Indy Toronto race lineup was nothing to scoff at, and this year’s is just as strong if not stronger. The July 18-20 weekend around the streets of Exhibition Place is, in a word, stacked.

A release from the event on Thursday confirmed that six support series that will race alongside the IndyCar Series, which will hold its second “2 in Toronto” doubleheader event.

Sports cars feature prominently. The Pirelli World Challenge returns for two races, albeit only with the GT and GTS classes as opposed to all classes as it had this past year. IMSA has a presence with the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, for its first trip to the streets of Toronto.

Two of the Andersen Promotions-run series, Indy Lights and USF2000, provide two-thirds of the open-wheel component. Pro Mazda will not return, and in its place is the Toyo Tires F1600 Series, based in Ontario.

Capping things off and no doubt providing the “wow factor” will be Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks Series, back for an encore in 2014. Those are high-powered off-road trucks racing side-by-side on the challenging street course, also tackling huge jumps, crossovers and whoop sections.

“From start to finish, the on-track excitement will have fans on the edge of their seats this summer,” Charlie Johnstone, president of the Honda Indy Toronto, said in a release. “The team here has been very busy securing a top-notch schedule that will cater to everyone, heighten the excitement and let our fans know how much we truly appreciate them.”

That schedule is a treat for race fans. Speaking from personal experience after my long-awaited first trip to the event last year, I’d recommend buying your tickets sooner rather than later.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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