Round Ten – Toronto

I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I am an IndyCar super-fan. And for a super-fan like myself, going to Canada is like a high school geekster going to Comic Con. It’s like I’m surrounded by my kind of people. Even though I’m an American who can’t play hockey and I’m not very good at math. But other than that, my kind of people… real race fans.

Don’t get me wrong, ‘merican friends. You are all real race fans too. What I’m referring to is less about the ability to win an IndyCar-themed Trivial Pursuit game and more about the atmosphere.

There’s just something about the welcoming that IndyCar gets when we arrive at a Canadian race. It’s as if the entire province sat around all year waiting for the 200+mph circus to arrive. A Christmas in July, of sorts. That’s not actually the case, but that’s the way it feels. And add to it the fact that you couldn’t look in any direction without seeing Hinch’s face plastered on something.

Don’t worry – I’ve made a mental note to pre-order a custom Tagliani tattoo booth and Tag-shaped ice cream pops for next year’s Honda Indy Toronto. We’ll show them. And you’re welcome in advance.

This was one hell of a weekend for Tag and I’m proud of him for surviving it. Every day was morning-to-night madness. You may have noticed that Tag has an intense personality, but what you might not realize is that that intensity level is the same off track as it is on. He’s incredibly passionate about making his fans happy. And his sponsors. And his crew. The list goes on… and it’s really cool to see.

Sometime during the Toronto weekend, one of the fans stopped me to say that they had just seen Tag stop to sign an autograph for a fan. (Note: There is no such thing as signing just one autograph. Anytime a driver stops to sign, BAM. There’s a crowd gathered faster than nerds can say Olivia Munn).

The word you’re looking for now is… ANYWAY…

So Tag stops to sign and a huge crowd gathers. The fan telling me this story was so impressed by the fact that he stayed to sign for every single fan. I was impressed too because with the schedule I had booked for him, there was no chance that he just had nothing better to do at that time. But his fans are that important to him.

It’s those moments that almost… almost… allow me to forgive him for forgetting me at the transporter on the way to an interview. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Except that I was in the middle of throwing a leg over the back of the scooter to hop on when he drove away and I nearly face-planted. In his defense, he was signing autographs and not paying attention. At least it was entertaining for the fans gathered at the transporter. Good times.

As much as I’d love to tell you that my favorite moment of the weekend happened at the track (how about that last-minute P10 finish?!), I would be lying. Sometimes, those shining moments happen when they’re least expected.

On Friday night, I went out to The Keg with a couple of the guys. SO delicious. As was Tim Horton’s. (Dear owners of said establishments: I am happy to promote how delicious your food is to the tens of people who read this blog. Please feel free to send gift cards to my attention at the Bryan Herta Autosport race shop). Ahem.

So we’re having dinner and a couple of our crew guys go outside for a smoke. (Kids: read that as “fresh air.”) You would think that two grown men would realize that they should take SEPARATE compartments in the revolving door. But instead, the thought of those two, not-so-slight men packing themselves in like sardines and shuffling their way around the circle makes me giggle uncontrollably. I think I would’ve paid a wicked amount of money to hear the conversation that ensued in that tiny little space. Thanks for the laugh, boys.

Now it’s on to the next one in Edmonton, where the Canadian hilarity will surely continue. And thank God for that because I’m loving every minute of it.

The Hot Lap
Miles traveled (in a minivan): 1,104
Canadians members of Barracuda Racing: 3
Official temperature on Friday: 97.3 degrees (36.3C, eh)
New Honda scooters for Tag to get places: 1
“Tag on the Go” cookies enjoyed in Toronto: 1,000+
Tag off-track appearances/interviews/meetings during the week: 28
Random references to nerds in this blog: 2
Sets of Firestone tires: 10
Top ten finishes this season: 4
Cold drinks left after the race weekend: 2
Number of grown men that fit in a revolving door compartment: 1
Timbits consumed: 137
Calories in said number of Timbits: Please don’t tell us
Crew members opting to see Niagra Falls on the way home: 4
Hours it took them to get home: 12
Days until Edmonton race: 11
Races remaining on 2012 schedule: 5 *sad face*
Number of photos in the Barracuda Racing Honda Indy Toronto photo album: 63 (check them out here: http://tinyurl.com/brmf7kr )