Tag Archives: Toronto

Meesh’s Milestone Marathon!

Hello my friends! In 6 DAYS!! On October 18, 2015, I will once again be participating in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as part of Team Cargill Cares, raising funds for Ronald McDonald House Toronto.
This year I decided to up my game as well as my mileage and will run my first ever HALF MARATHON!! (insert me screaming internally)

2yrs ago I ran my first official 5K at this event, as my family made use of the facilities at Ronald McDonald House Toronto while my nephew was being treated for testicular cancer. Though my nephew has thankfully recovered, and my family no longer uses the facilities, I have continued to run and raise money each year for this much needed venue and service as I have experienced the value of it first hand. It’s my way of paying it forward and saying thank you.

I’ve also upped my goal from previous years!
I will be running 21K… 4X’s the distance of my previous efforts at this event, so I figured $2100.00 was a nice simpatico number to reach for.
$100 per KM. As each KM ticks off, I will think “that’s another $100 for RMHT!” This will be what drags my numb carcass across the finish-line approximately 3hrs after the gun sounds…
This is the only charity/fundraising I do each year, so I’m counting on you all to step up! 100% of the funds raised are allocated and used to support RMHT and the families that utilize the facilities.
100%!! Not many charities can say that.
For perspective, it costs $125 per night to house a family at RMHT, they pay $15, the rest is subsidized by the monies raised via donations.

It costs $3000 for the average family stay at RMHT. (my goal doesn’t even cover that) 3200 families will walk through the doors at Ronald McDonald House Toronto this year.

This is a big milestone for me!
Which is fitting as just weeks ago I celebrated another milestone.
A half century of life on this big blue marble! The BIG FIVE-OH!
I will never complain about reaching this age. Many of the children I am running for never will have that privilege.
THIS is my motivation.
So, I ask that in lieu of birthday gifts/cards/drinks this year, you instead pledge your support to this cause! Reaching my goal would be the bestest birthday present of all!

THANK YOU for your support!
All pledges will receive an official tax receipt (either electronic or in the mail.)

CLICK TO DONATE!! THANKS IN ADVANCE!!

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Canadian Motorsports Expo Takes Giant Step Forward

I must say, I was suitably impressed with the CME this year. Just walking into the show on Friday I immediately had the sense that it had finally found it’s legs after several awkward toddler years.

Is it spectacular? Not yet, but you could definitely see and feel the potential and growth, more so than during any other year I have attended.

There are still some niggley things to work out. Flow of the show itself (layout of aisles/booths, scheduling of the mainstage/seminar room talks, sound on the mainstage) but those are all fixable technical issues. Other than that, the substance of the show itself, well, things were much improved in that area.

There was a larger corporate presence this year, which not only added to the look/feel of the show, but also upped the quality of the presentations and seminars. Sadly, I had to miss out on some I really wanted to see, due to scheduling conflicts. (will suggest a doubling up on presentations for next year)

Though I jinxed it on Thursday by talking about the weather (Bad Meesh!) and then predicting Snowmageddon (which actually did happen, though not that bad) the foot traffic appeared to be heavier, right from the get go. I noticed more people milling about, and with a larger hall this year and wider aisles, you would expect the opposite interpretation. I also heard vendors remarking that they had had more inquiries and traffic at their booth on the Friday than they had had during the entire weekend in previous years. So it would appear to have been a successful weekend no matter what side of the aisle you were on.

One can only assume, especially when you take into consideration all of the announcements about the growth of racing and racing venues in Canada during this year’s show, that next year we will see even more outreach for this “little show that could”.

I can’t stress enough how informative and enjoyable the discussion panels and Q&A’s are, especially if you’re a race fan. The opportunity to speak with drivers and industry leaders in a casual setting in the off season, when they aren’t bogged down by the stresses of the season yet, is invaluable, and rare.
Unfortunately, my trusty digital recorder decided he had had enough this year, and failed me on two occasions over the weekend, otherwise you would hear a complete example of what you missed. Trust me. They were phenomenal discussions! But hey, maybe that is better. Maybe that is what will convince you to pop up and check out the show next year for yourself.

Anyway, here are a few shots from the weekend.  (will upload a gallery elsewhere later, as FB pic resolutions are shite)

I didn’t take too many general show pics this year, as I was too busy meeting, greeting, listening and hobnobbing! But I did manage some from the presentations I was able to enjoy.

I will also be posting an interview I did with the Mayor of Hinchtown 😉 later this week. Always great to chat with that boy. Feel like I’ve watched him grow up before my eyes.

EDIT: OH Eureka! So, turns out I did manage to capture all but a little bit at the end of the Media Panel Discussion on Saturday! I will figure out how to upload it so you can hear it.

Also, Stephanie from More Front Wing managed to capture the Q&A from Hinch so head over there and have a listen to that!  (Thanks for choosing one of my pics for your story Steph! 😉 )

So there ya go! Another year under our belts to kick off what is setting up to be a pretty damned exciting racing season for all genres of racing, both here in North America, and across the pond!

Thanks again to everyone at Inside Track magazine, specifically Greg MacPherson, for their hard work putting this show together and assistance on site! See you next year!

2 more days til MY sports season begins

alright… Got all of that Football stuff out of your system?

Good, because now it’s time to concentrate on some real sports entertainment! Racing and Cars!

That’s right, over the course of the next week, things kick off in a big way, especially here in Toronto.

First up, this weekend is the annual Canadian Motorsports Expo, or CME as it’s known in these parts. In a stroke of genius, the powers that be decided to push the date from it’s usual dreary January weekend, to the second weekend in February.

Why is this important? Well, a number of reasons, but the main one being it’s close proximity to the Canadian International Auto Show (that kicks off next Thursday, and I’ll be there too) This makes it a great lead in to the automotive season here in Toronto. Plus, the football season is done (apparently they played their last game during the Madonna concert last weekend) leaving a good portion of the male population wanting something to do on the weekend besides tackle their “honey-do list” 😉 And, though they could never have predicted this, the weather has been ridiculously pleasant this winter. (of course now that I’ve said that, there will be Snowmageddon this weekend)

At first glance at the handy electronic version of the show program
There looks to be a much larger presence this year. The layout appears to have changed substantially, and there certainly appears to be a larger corporate footprint mixed in with the smaller “mom & pop” operations.

What am I looking forward to? The discussion!
Yes, it’s the annual meeting of the motorsports minds. The who’s who of Canadian (Ontarian?) motorsports journalists hold a Q & A panel each year (Saturday), while I, the “who the fuck is that chick?” of Canadian motorsports journalists, sits in the audience and heckles… er “asks questions” 😉
There are actually things to talk about this year! In years previous, much of the discussion at the CME amongst my colleagues and friends amounted to nothing more than speculation because as you well know, other than the mega teams, very few deals are signed, sealed and delivered in January. This year of course was a bit of an anomaly as teams were eager to secure drivers sooner rather than later to take advantage of the limited testing of the new car, a time sensitive priority with the first race 46 days away. (not that I’m counting… but I’m counting)

Speaking of the new car; you can get up close and personal with the DW12 at the show courtesy of the Honda Indy Toronto, who themselves will once again have a presence after a year absent from the show. Come down, ask about the car, ask about the race, get revved up for July!!

oh, right, you want to know about drivers?

Ya, they have those too! As is the case currently in North America, it’s all about NASCAR, (there really is no accounting for taste 😉 ) so much of the special guest action is NASCAR centric (hey, they’re probably footing most of the bill too, so good on them) This year features both CDN & US stars who will feature prominently throughout the weekend: Carl Edwards, Robert Yates, Randy LaJoie & Scott Steckly But don’t fret Open Wheel/Road racing fans, CME stalwart Ron Fellows will be there again (should be interesting to pick his brain about Mosport) and the most important feature, for me anyway, up and coming open wheel SUPERSTAR (though he’s always been one in my book) James Hinchcliffe! (he’s there on Sunday)

So, it looks like I will spend a good portion of my weekend on the fricken Go-Bus to and from downtown to the fricken boonies about behind the Airport to the International Centre. (my biggest complaint about this show, especially as a non-driver) (no, the irony of that is not lost on me) On the bright side, at least I know once I’m there, I will have plenty of sights and sounds to occupy my time! But don’t just take my word for it, come check it out for yourself!

And be sure to say HI! if you’re down there. Tweet me a hello @whatimthinking

Autoshow Media Day… 2011

Bland. Today was very bland.
From a car enthusiast point of view at least.
Sorry, make that from a fast/race car enthusiast point of view.

Apparently white is the “it” colour for this year (personally it just makes me think of rental cars) The show was very black & white, with pops of red & blue, and when I was lucky, metal flake lime & orange. (no, not together, though there was a nasty metal flake purple infinity with a pink interior… blech)

Aside from everyone pulling white sheets off to reveal white cars, every manufacturer seemed to have hired the same marketing consultants to write the same speeches, interjecting their own company’s name. By the third presentation we were enjoying a virtual game if Autoshow Bingo. (think of it as a drinking game for your brain… everytime the same word/phrase is used, you mentally check it off on the grid)

This year was all about eco friendly, hybrids and fuel efficiency.
And bland white cars. Continue reading

Who’s a happy boy?…

PT was like a kid in a candy store this morning as he unveiled his new car for the Honda Indy Toronto!
Even Jimmy was full of smiles!
I too couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing Paul so happy and knowing that he will be racing in the next two races I will be attending.
He looks great! He’s dropped some weight, looks rested and focused and happy. He was very comfortable and laid back this morning.

Patti (his wife) looks equally great and happy and I hear Viv is coming to the race, which will make my year. (nothing more fun than hangin in the pits with PT’s mom)
Hopefully CJ will make an appearance too.

Since this was a reveal for Paul as well, it was fun to watch his reaction when he saw the car. He even ran back up to the podium and made them turn the mic on so he could speak some more. VERY un PT like action that is! (not fond of public speaking) He just gushed about the car and the race and how proud he is of his car and to be back racing in Toronto.

For the first time, I’m actually excited for this race and feel like it’s coming. It sure as hell isn’t because of the “buzz” in the city.

When I asked Charlie J if this was the kick off to some serious promotion now as so far it’s the best kept secret in town, I got the standard PR answer of “well I’ve heard nothing but the opposite”. Bullshit.
Norris MacDonald came to my rescue and called him on the “PR” answer. If there has been major promotion going on, I sure as hell haven’t seen it. (other than Honda Dealer ads, which quite frankly promote Honda, not the race)

Apparently there is a huge promotional thing happening for two days the week before the race at Dundas Square.
Ya… newsflash… promoting a supposed international racing event 5 days before the event is not “huge promotion”

I actually feel sorry for Charlie. He busted his ass for this race for years. I imagine his hands are tied and he just has to tow the party line, but man… who does he think he’s fooling? I live here man! I remember all the events I went to prior to the races in previous years and all the promotion.

As I already alluded to earlier in my blackberry drive-by, the issue of the run off’s was also brought up and denied. Again, we will see.
I also laid that juicy tidbit of information at the feet of those paid to write and report, so we’ll see if they dig up anything to the contrary.
Again, I hope it was just a silly rumour, because it will be a disaster if not. I asked Paul about his thoughts on it. When I get home (yes I’m still at work as I put in some extra hours to cover the time I took for the Press conference) I’ll transpose the quotes.
(I felt like such a dork sticking a digital recorder in front of Paul… we both actually chuckled at the weirdness of it)

anyway… here is a wee gallery of snaps from today. My flash died (of course) and we were in a fricken shitty lit Military hanger… so it is what it is…

KV/PT unveiling

What did you do this weekend…?

I hung out with Jacques Villeneuve & Ron Fellows…

Ok… so “hung out” is a bit of a stretch, but I did spend two days working and schmoozing at the CDN Motorsports Expo.

Think of it as a teeeeeny tiiiiny PRI show or like the exhibit hall that’s part of a race weekend. (which is perhaps when and where it should take place… but I’ll get to that later)

It was a mish mash of a little bit of everything. Some cars (most disciplines), some swag, some equipment, some “completely unrelated to racing but their presence helps pay the bills” booths, some main stage talks, some side room seminars, & some famous faces & names. A little bit of everything for race enthusiasts young and old.

Having not been to the show the previous two years I have no gauge as to how successful or unsuccessful it was comparatively. I heard that there were more people (specifically on Saturday) (thanks Jacques!) but I also heard that it was smaller. Regardless, I thought it was a lovely way to spend the day on a blustery, cold January weekend.

Now… my thoughts upon reflection…
(and this is not in anyway a slam against the organizers who put this together! )

I personally think it would be better served closer to the city (specifically downtown) That trek out to the international centre is a pain in the ass. One of the smaller venues at Exhibition Place for example would be a great locale as it is easily accessible by ttc & GO, could be tied in with a promotion for the Toronto Race. (ya, AGR/Honda Indy Toronto might want to rethink their lack of participation in these events…) (listen to the Media Forum audio for their explanation…)

I also think it should be reduced to 2-days. Saturday was the meat and potatoes of this weekend (All of the appearances and heavy hitting panel discussions took place on Saturday with Fri & Sun just sort of empty bookends.)

Spread it out over the two days instead of three, holding autograph sessions and Q & A’s with top ranking drivers/teams for each racing discipline (karts, open wheel, stock car, etc..) throughout the day over the course of the weekend, rather than on just the one day. And offer a “weekend pass” to encourage folks to be there for both days. (making a weekend out of it) Do tie-in’s with food and beverage vendors leading up to the show, and make sure those vendors have a presence there. (perhaps, again, vendors that have involvement in the Toronto race, and or other local raceways)

Have the “smaller” seminars out where people can see them/hear them, not tucked in a side room. Out of sight, out of mind. People are by nature hunters/gathers. They hunt around for something that looks interesting and gather where they see others starting to gather. (other trade shows set up several little “stages” in all of the corners, out where everyone can see) Then, group the seminars together by genre or discipline, so people can schedule their time wisely and not miss out on valuable information.

I would like to have seen more of a presence by the CDN teams, tracks, schools, etc… I don’t want to see Andrew Rangers driver’s suit hanging randomly at the end of an aisle. I want to see his suit, his car, some of the members of his crew, and perhaps Andrew himself! Maybe have a replica race weekend paddock set up.

Maybe I’m a crew member on a feeder series team and want to talk to the chief mechanic about what the season was like from a technical standpoint. Perhaps I’m a young driver who wants to talk to the team owner about what he’s looking for in a driver, or a young girl who is considering a career in racing, and wishes to talk to the female crew members (of which there were a few on Andrew’s team this year) about what kind of education I should seek and what it’s like for a girl in a male dominated sport. Bring the feeling of a race weekend to the people in January and they will be chomping at the bit to come to you in June!

If it’s held in January again, then I want to see a booth for the Honda Indy, Mosport, Cayuga, etc… and presence from IndyCar, Canadian Tire Nascar Series, etc… with information on the upcoming season, the schedule, perhaps the opportunity to purchase or win tickets or a season pass! (can you imagine!?)
How about a CDN travel agency (hello Flight Centre?!) willing to arrange discounts on travel and accommodations for race fans both for local races and cross border events.

The potential is definitely there and the possibilities endless. Don’t get me wrong, the show was fine, and interesting , but like anything, there is always room for improvement.

That said, Big kudos and a pat on the back to Glenn Butt for his tireless efforts to make this happen each year! Additional kudos go out to our amazing CDN motorsports reporters. The cream of the crop, on a national level, were there for most of the day on Saturday, not only for their session, but just hanging out chatting with whomever was around. (even I had the privilege of some major one on one chit chat with “the boys”, which is always a special treat, especially in the middle of winter)
Some perspective…
Just imagine a little local show in Indianapolis in January with a panel of Miller, Oreo, Kirby, Phillips, Harris and Malsher, answering questions for an hour then standing around for a few more having individual conversations…
Ya, exactly. )

Alright. That’s my 24cents. (I also over tip 😉 )

Below you will find a photo gallery, and two audio clips (disguised as videos as that was the only way to get them uploaded) (no, really, I did some serious hoop jumping to get these on here) First audio is of the press conference with Jacques Villeneuve & the second audio is of the media forum/Q&A. (basically, I’m too damn lazy to transcribe… and figured you’d enjoy hearing the actual events)

Throughout both you will hear me gaffawing (apologies) and I even stutter my way through a question to the media panel. (hint: I’m the one who starts my question with “hello boys” hehe… ) I lost my train of thought at one point, but eventually recovered… LOL.

oh yeah, and I was captured in action snapping pics sporting my signature braids and PT Monster cap (LOL!) by fellow media type Bill Mehlenbacher (http://www.nxphoto.com)

Alright… enjoy the pics and interviews!

img_84871Click here for gallery!

Jacques Villeneuve press conference: (audio only)

*direct link if player doesn’t work*

Media Forum/Q&A: (audio only)

*direct link if player doesn’t work*

So… here’s what I’m thinking…

I’m thinking I should have posted something between June 24th and now, but somehow, for some reason, didn’t. Partially because some of what I’ve been discussing offline is “off the record” and “between you and I” (which is super secret off the record) and therefore not blog worthy. Well, I mean it’s worthy…. but not blog approved shall we say.

Mostly though it’s because there is just something… missing.

I’m feeling very disconnected from this sport that I love. Like the step-child, forced into a new family, who just doesn’t quite fit in. I spent so many months trying to convince everyone else to give this thing a shot, but as my spirit begins to fade, no one has taken on that role for me. So here I sit, mid season, disillusioned, disappointed, disapproving and slightly disheveled. ( that last one’s the new job taking it’s toll on me)

It’s the Thursday of race week. My race week. The week I lose sleep over every year. The week my non-gearhead friends know not to expect a return phone call. I should be beside myself, giddy with anticipation of friends and coworkers descending upon my fair city for a week of auto racing splendor. I should be grinning like a cheshire cat each time I see a commercial or hear a newscastor mention the Grand Prix of Toronto. I should be sitting at a downtown bar having a heated discussion with my racing buddies about the in’s and out’s of the series and teams and drivers.

Only my racing buddies aren’t here. The bars are ghost towns. There is nary a checkered banner or poster of a race car anywhere. The start/finish line is faded and scuffed, yet still there, taunting… a painful reminder of all that we’ve lost. Oh sure, there will be a race here next year… but it will never be same.

I’m sangry. I’m Angrad. I’m the perfect combination of angry and sad. Instead of the cosmopolitan, fast paced, action packed, world class event I’m used to, I’m instead driving into the middle of upper New York cottage country in some desperate attempt to fill the void. Now I’m sure it’s a perfectly lovely place. And a perfectly lovely track. But… *sigh*

I have such mixed feelings going into the weekend. On the one hand I’m so looking forward to catching up with my chums. *waves to my soon to be roomie from Australia!* On the other hand, I feel like I’m being lead to the firing squad. (dramatic much??) But seriously, for the first time, ever, I am “without team” or driver. My weekends consist of interviews, writing and mostly standing in PT’s pits whenever he’s on track. Well, he’s not on track… anywhere! (don’t even get me started again…) A fact that hits’ me in little waves as I prepare for my weekend. Every piece of racing gear I own is either Champ Car or Forsythe or covered in Monster logos. So this weekend, I’m going with basic black. Kind of fitting as I feel as though I’m in mourning.

I HATE THIS! I hate feeling this way! I hate the disparity. I hate the car. I hate the bullshit, media hyped “danicamania”. I hate that I really couldn’t give a shit who is in the chase for the championship because I have zero connection with anyone in the hunt. I hate the blank, despondent faces of the transitioning drivers staring at me from my television every week, because they’re mirroring mine. I hate that the fall out has all but destroyed the Atlantic series. I hate that I’m filled with so much… hate.  *exhale*

Ok… that’s out of my system… figured I better purge all of that from my brain before I walk into the media centre on Friday.

I’m going to try to keep an open mind. Bear with me though as I am about to attend my first ever IRL event. Just typing that made my skin crawl a bit. See it’s one thing to sit and write about it as “media”. I detach myself from it in those cases. I’ve a job to do, and I do it. But underneath the media credential is a fan. A CART/Champ Car fan.  A fan who fought for and supported and stood up for and was ultimately let down by not just a “racing series” but an ideal. A dream, a hope, a philosophy.

Believe me, I want to be excited again. I want to be giddy with anticipation. I want to get chills when the cars fire up and peel out of the pits. I want to cheer on and support a team and a driver. I want to believe that there is a real future to look forward too and not just some smoke and mirrors version of open wheel. I look forward to the day when I can look at this series and American open wheel as more than the consolation prize that was behind door number 2.