Steve’s don’t miss guide – the Honda Indy Toronto edition

Steve’s don’t miss at the Honda Indy Toronto

I moved from Ontario to Indiana in 1995, but I still consider the Honda Indy Toronto my *home* race.   Below, I share with you some general hints, some can’t miss at the track activities, and a few of my favorite restaurants and off the beaten path things to do in Toronto.

General notes: 

What not to miss at the track:

Scott Dixon, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay work their way through the tricky Turn 9 and 10 during the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Scott Dixon, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay work their way through the tricky Turn 9 and 10 during the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

  • Put your nose up to the fence of Thunder Alley and realize in person the power of an Indy Car traveling down Lake Shore Boulevard at over 190mph.
  • Get an appreciation for how hard these drivers work inside the cockpit and go for a stroll down by Turn 9 & 10 to watch the drivers hands and heads move around violently as they fight through this high speed, multi-surfaced section of the 11 turn, 1.755 mile Exhibition Place circuit.
  • Visit the outside of Turn 1, which is a good place to fully witness the braking power of an Indy Car, as they woah down for the tight right handed Turn 1.
  • Make at least one trip though the Direct Energy Center.  The giant air conditioned exhibition center is home to the support series paddocks.  A stroll through the Pirelli World Challenge paddock will see you up close and personal with Cadillacs, McLarens, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris, Audis, Mercedes, Vipers, Camaros, Mustangs and more.
  • An official tweet-up.  Make sure you are following @IndyFansTweetUp for latest updates on times and locations.  A race weekend tweet-up has become a can’t miss event.  You never know who might show up; I’ve also met some of my best friends at IndyCar tweet-ups.
  • The future stars of IndyCar on display during the Mazda Road To Indy (MRTI) races. If you are a fan of close racing, you’ll not want to miss a race in Indy Lights, Pro and USF2000. The Honda Indy Toronto is also the only Verizon IndyCar Series stop that features the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship.  This entry level formula car series features close racing, and produced many of Canada’s great open wheel stars like Paul Tracy and James Hinchcliffe.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed when watching these future Verizon IndyCar Series stars.
  • A MRTI podium celebration. Watching “kids” and their families celebrate is one of my favorite parts of race weekends.
  • A chance to brush elbows with the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers during the popular full-field autograph session. The autograph session takes place on Sunday, April 20th between noon and 1:00pm.
  • The foundation of the Honda Indy Toronto is certainly the non-stop on track actions, but if you want to take a break from roar of race cars you can check out:
  1. The TASTEFEST featuring: food trucks, gourmet food vendors and free samples
  2. The CRAFT BEERFEST is set up along the fence line of Lake Shore Boulevard (the back straight), so you can enjoy a cold Amersterdam or Muskoka brewery cold-one while still watching the racing
  3. Keep you juices pumping while participating in ADRENALINEFEST, where you can catch the: Stihl Timbersports Series, the Honda Pit Stop Challenge, the FIREFIT championships and the Honda Junior Red Riders.

What not to miss away from the track:

  • All good days at a race track begin with a big breakfast.  Or at least, that’s what I keep telling my-self.  I love the traditional “greasy spoon” breakfast places and my absolute favorite just happens to be in Toronto.  Since the joint only seats about 8 people, I shouldn’t really be sharing this, but we’re all friends here.  All I ask is that you save me a seat.   You won’t get anything fancy at the Avenue Open Kitchen (7 Camden - just west of Spadina), but if you are looking for a traditional Canadian breakfast of eggs, hash browns, pea meal bacon and toast you can’t go wrong.  You also won’t have to spend an arm and a leg here, but do make sure you bring cash as they don’t take plastic.
  • From one end of the financial dining spectrum to the other.  The only thing these two places have in common is my adulation for them..  If you are craving a steak after a long day at the track, Barbarians is the only place to go.  This old school steak house (think in the vein of St. Elmo’s for those of you from Indy) opened in 1959 and has been serving Toronto’s elite ever since (celebrity sightings are not uncommon).  Whether you go for the meat, the staggering 30,000 bottle wine list, the impressive collection of Canadiana, the Group of Seven artwork, or a combination you’ll remember your dining experience at 7 Elm St. for a very long time.
Barberians Steakhouse from the outside.  (Photo courtesy of Barberians)

Barberians Steakhouse from the outside. (Photo courtesy of Barberians)

  • If you are looking for a unique, historic and memorable night on the town, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Distillery District.  Home to the largest (still standing) collection of Victorian era Industrial Architecture in North America.  The former Gooderham & Worts booze factory is now  a large collection of independent restaurants, shops, breweries and theaters.  It’s very easy to spend an evening exploring the brick walkways and all they hold.  
  • Toronto is home to some very talented street artists.  You can find out where to find the choice graffiti at this page on the Toronto Tourism website.
  • For the ladies in the group (yes, I’m fully aware that I’m stereotyping, but am I that wrong – insert winky, smiley face) there is the one-of-a-kind Bata Shoe Museum where you can trace the history of footwear through a 13,000 pair collection.  The shoebox shaped museum is located at 327 Bloor Street West.


I have been an IndyCar fan since the mid 1980's and like to cover the news that no else does.

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