There I was, work done, feeling antsy, unpacking my suitcase from the weekend, thinking… “geesh, I won’t be driving to another race until Mid-Ohio”… then I remembered, THE CIRCUS COMES TO MY TOWN THIS WEEK! No travel required!!!
Still in possession of my sweet little CR-Z courtesy of Honda Canada, I decided to drive down to Exhibition Place on Monday see what was happening at that track.
When I got there, there was a lot of activity. Roads were closed, men were laying cable, building structures, directing workers… and I wandered around, camera in hand, trying to “blend in”
*note to self, keep hard hat in trunk*
There has been a lot of shifting of the layout (inside the track, not the track itself) this year to work around the construction site of the hotel being built behind pitlane. For what it’s worth, there is nothing really in motion construction wise, other than it all being fenced off. Pretty… not.
So the entire Thunder Alley area has been shifted further down towards Turn 3, from it’s usual spot behind the Gold grandstands (or “Pitlane” grandstands as they are now monikered)
The large Honda World display & Red Rider set up was being built on the inside of turn 10 (drivers right)
Since the basic skeleton of the track was 90% in place (save for a few of the concrete barriers being placed by the large crane at pit out) yesterday was a flurry of “beautification” . Flags being erected on the grandstands, banners being stuck and replaced on the track walls and suites, etc…
While driving along the back straight to see if the Turn 3 grandstands had been added to. (really couldn’t tell) I realized I could turn up onto the course. So I did. Several times ;-) I was able to drive from turn 2 through to turn 8. Contrary to my inner desire to lay down a fast lap, there were too many obstacles to make that happen (trucks, stop signs, people…) So instead I took it slow and paid attention to the surfaces. Not as bad as it could have been, considering we actually had a winter this year.
Turn 1 – Couldn’t drive on it as it was blocked off, but there was freshly laid concrete fixing up what as a pretty messy seam (see before/after pics in album) I’m not sure when they poured it though, so I’m not sure what effect the deluge yesterday had on it.
Turn 2 – Thunder Alley – the surface is actually good. A couple of slight bumps maybe. There are 3 traffic lanes. The outer 2 (driver’s left) are smooth. The lane close to the wall on driver’s right is a bit sketchier.
Turn 3 – surface is good, corner is tight! dayum. I was in a little CR-Z and I felt squished.
Turn 4-5 – surface is good.
Turn 6-7-8 – This is probably the “worst” section of the track and it’s really not that bad. A few bumps, crevases, surface changes, etc..
Turn 9-10 – Did have access to this, but will be down there on Thursday and try to take a full track walk.
About a half hour after I was down at the track, a crazy storm blew in and dumped about a month’s worth of rain in one hour in the heart of the city, causing flash flooding and power outages, shutting down the transit system, and stranding people in and out of the city. The back straight was under about a foot of water. That said, we had a huge storm a couple of weeks ago, and the same thing happened along Thunder Alley. It does eventually drain, but if we get dumped on at any point over the weekend, expect a delay in the action.
If I get a chance later, I will drive down and see if there was any damage from the storm, though I doubt it was anything more than making things a little soggy.
Here are some shots from yesterday:
Honda Indy Pre-Event Sneak Peek!