TORONTO, ON - The on-track action at this year's Toronto Molson Indy doesn't get underway until Friday morning (July 14), but the excitement of the upcoming weekend was already in full evidence, last night, at Vinnie's in downtown Toronto. The...
TORONTO, ON - The on-track action at this year's Toronto Molson Indy doesn't get underway until Friday morning (July 14), but the excitement of the upcoming weekend was already in full evidence, last night, at Vinnie's in downtown Toronto. The 2000 Toronto Molson Indy weekend is officially underway following Wednesday night's annual Inside Track / CASCAR / 'Exide 99 Street Fight' Party at the popular Toronto establishment.
It was the second year in a row that Inside Track and CASCAR have welcomed the racing community to Vinnie's to help kick-off CASCAR's participation in one of the biggest weekends on the Canadian motorsport Calendar. In addition to the fun and games, the event also included 'silent auction' to raise funds for the Make A Wish Foundation (Toronto Chapter).
Several CASCAR racers were on hand for the party, including veterans Kelly Williams, Pete Vanderwyst, Mark Dilley and Brad Jacques. Many of their CASCAR rivals were unable to attend as they were burning the midnight oil getting ready for Friday's on-track action.
The cars of Brad Jacques (Exide Batteries Intrepid), defending race winner Robin Buck (UAP/NAPA Pontiac Grand Prix) and defending CASCAR Castrol Super Series National champion Peter Gibbons (Canadian Tire Chevrolet Monte Carlo) were on display out front of the establishment. Also parked on the street in front of Vinnie's was the Kawasaki ZX-6R of Kelly Williams and the immaculately prepared '27 Ford roadster of photographer Dave Franks. Radio station Q-107 did some 'cut-ins' from their remote vehicle and CITY-TV, Global TV and CFTO-TV all did news items on the Inside Track/CASCAR party in their late night broadcasts.
CASCAR television personality Pat Gonsalves acted as the MC for the evening, conducting brief interviews with the CASCAR racers as well as competitors from the CART Toyota Atlantic Series and the CART FedEx tour. All of the racers took time to sign and distribute 'hero cards' to the assembled racing enthusiasts.
Many drivers from a variety of racing disciplines took part in the festivities, including CART Toyota Atlantic racers Buddy Rice, David Rutledge and Andrew Bordin along with Canadian CART FedEx Series stars Patrick Carpentier and Alexandre Tagliani. Canadian Ron Fellows, fresh from his NASCAR Busch Series win at Watkins Glen in late June, was also on hand to mingle and discuss his plans for victory in next month's Winston Cup race at the beautiful upstate New York road circuit.
Racers and fans alike were able to bid on race-related collectible items at the 'silent auction', which - near the end of the night - resembled a race, as bidders jockeyed feverishly for position, trying to get in the highest final bid on their desired items. In all, the 'silent auction' raised just under $7,000 to aid the admirable efforts of the Make a Wish Foundation (Toronto Chapter). 'Thank you' to all who attended, donated items and supported this worthwhile cause.
CASCAR QUICK FACTS:
- With the fun and games out of the way, the focus of the CASCAR drivers and teams shifts to the demanding CNE street circuit. A 90-minute practice session, starting at 8 a.m. on Friday morning, kicks off CASCAR's on-track participation in this year's Toronto Molson Indy. The competitors return at the end of the day, on Friday (5:45 p.m.), for their 30-minute qualifying session. On raceday, Saturday, the CASCAR drivers hold their traditional driver autograph session from noon to 1 p.m. The Exide 99 Street Fight will take the green flag at 3:15 p.m. The race will be broadcast live on CTV Sportsnet.