was not much of an event at all. Aside from zero general promotion until the Tuesday of race week, there was also distinct lack of fanfare when you arrived onsite.
I don’t even know why I’m about to bother with the following post, other than the persistent nudging from my inbox to “tell me what you thought!!”
so here goes I guess… Just a little snippet of what I saw, heard, felt..
Gone was the giant “Welcome Race Fans” inflatable, the turn styles, the souvenir stand, the program hawkers…
In it’s place two guys yelling at cars and a line of rent-a-cops in yellow shirts that looked more like they were blocking the entrance than welcoming you to what used to be a world class event.
Inside the door a couple of tables with photo copied signs. One where you could buy tickets (in theory, if you had the patience to wait while they tallied your purchase by abacus) and one for will call. But don’t try to leave tickets at said will call for anyone. It’s not “that” kind of will call. (WTF kind is it then?!) Imagine how happy I was when I found out that I couldn’t leave the free tickets (gold seats I was handed the night before by someone in the organization to attempt to paper the place on Saturday) at the Will Call, but rather had to walk the half hour from the Pitlane to the front door once my guests arrived. (see you could no longer access the pitlane from both ends this year, or at the mid point) (oh not wait, if you were a relative or a pit lizard you could access midway, but we in the media who HAD to be on pitlane to do our jobs had to walk to the far end to access it…) (but I digress)
Oh and don’t try to find customer service either. There was none. That’s right, the one thing that made this event stand apart head & shoulders over the others, the amazing Customer Service, was but a memory.
Now the talking heads, who got real good at pissing into the wind and telling us it was raining all weekend, insisted there was tons of “activation” pre-event. Yes, if you drink bud, by the case apparently, there where promotions on that.
Firstly, who the fuck drinks Bud if they aren’t forced to at a sporting event.
Secondly, what about the rest of the population that doesn’t fall into whatever that demographic is?
There were no posters or billboards or banners or flags anywhere!
I finally saw a few Budweiser “Welcome Race Fans” signs go up on race week at select bars in the city.
No Subway/TTC activation, other than one IZOD Streetcar which I didn’t see until race weekend.
Gone was the grandstand lined, majestic front stretch. In it’s place ONE grandstand, half the height, with a lovely view of the now TREE Lined front straight.
Gone was the huge turn 10 double beer garden, in it’s place a big open empty area, and a tiny Hooters beer garden.
Gone was the large variety of vendors and food. In it’s place Pizza Pizza stands.
Gone was the nightly off track events, parties, charity events, balls, street parties. (Thank you Hinch for caring enough to throw a post race party!)
Gone was the ATMOSPHERE!! In it’s place, emptiness and silence by 6:30pm each night. I kid you not.
The layout was so bad and awkward and uninviting, I stopped walking the grounds. (not that I had a lot of time to do so anyway cause the half hour walk back to the media centre meant I was mostly held hostage on pitlane so as not to miss any of the action or the shots I needed to get during each session)
The media centre… lol… well, since I have done both Indy and Watkin’s Glen recently, let me tell you… much improvement is needed there.
While they finally took the step of putting the media room and the press conference room in one, :thumbsup: Yay! they dropped the ball with feeding us. (Something that Toronto is notorious for other than the final CC year when they actually feed us half decently)
In addition to the food being mediocre at best (if and when there was any at the times that you could actually eat), there was no place to actually sit and eat it, other than to try to balance it on your lap while sitting in front of your computer in the media room. And true to form, there wasn’t a bottle of water to be found on Raceday. Apparently the fact that it’s July and we work outside for hours at a time failed to register on the caterer, who I’m guessing from the reaction of the AGR folks won’t be hired back next year. Luckily I was able to grab a couple of sports drinks from the Conquest gang post race (yes POST race, approximately 9hrs after I arrived that morning) so I didn’t pass out from dehydration.
I have to give huge kudos to AGR’s Tip Nunn who was on top of everything for us in the media all weekend though. (you go “Big Daddy”)
I was really REALLY hoping to be chowing down on a giant plate of crow this week, having been proved wrong and attending a fabulous event, but alas, I can save the crow recipes for another day.
I don’t want to rip on my home race, any more than I wanted to see it presented with such a lack of… I can’t even think of an appropriate word.
I spent the weekend with visiting media asking me what the deal was, and all I could do is shrug silently. Then I just bit my tongue while those in charge shoveled enough PR lies and bullshit to fill the Direct Energy Centre 3 times over down our throats. My favorite moment was being told to my face that they didn’t give away one ticket this weekend. Funny I said to the person, I was personally handed 5 free tickets from a stack of at least a hundred, to which I was greeted with gaping mouthed silence.
I’m the wrong person to attempt PR spin on. Trust me.
I made the mistake of taking a stroll through my photos of Toronto Indys gone by. It just gave me a lump in my throat. Even the last two CC events, that were on the decline ironically, looked like the Indy 500 comparatively.
I can only hope that the epic failure of waiting until the last minute while arrogantly depending on the misguided notion of Torontonian’s blindly accepting anything thrown at us and coming back in droves, quality be damned, will make “them” sit up and take notice and put a little effort into it next year, because what I saw this weekend was like charging the paddles to 300 and resuscitating a DNR patient… and that breaks my heart.