July 19, 2012
IndyCar drivers happy to be back
By DAVE CAMERON, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - They all say it.
They all mean it, too, of course.
But when Justin Wilson says he loves coming to Edmonton, he really means it.
His win in 2006 at the second of these events held at the City Centre Airport was significant as the Brit was trying to establish a racing career in North America.
"It's always great to come here," said Wilson Wednesday under the glass in City Hall's main foyer. "We love racing in Edmonton.
"I've been here since the start and seen what great support this track, this event, has had from people.
Wilson was one of four IndyCar drivers facing the microphones and cameras.
"Like Oriol said, it's what makes this worthwhile/ Without the support, without the fans coming out there's no point us racing. So we appreciate it to come here."
Wilson was referring to Oriol Servia. The Spaniard hasn't raced at all seven so far, like Wilson (about to be the only one who will have done all eight) has, but he is also among the original 18 that raced here in 2005. He's also raced in Vancouver and Toronto.
"We always say it and it's great to see that it never ends with the Canadian fans. (You are) always so fun to be around and so knowledgeable about racing."
For James Hinchcliffe, it's a no-brainer.
Call him Captain Canada as he's quickly becoming the face of the racing nation alongside Alex Tagliani with Paul Tracy's career seemingly on the backburner.
The ÔMayor of Hinchtown' (making him the only mayor in town with Edmonton mayor and race grand Marshall Stephen Mandell in Toronto on Wednesday) obviously loves having the two races in Canada.
"Edmonton is where I won my first professional race (in the Atlantic Series in 2009) so that will always matter."
Would he love to see, say Vancouver back on the calendar and have a third run north of the border?
"A third, a fourth, a fifth."
The big change last year for all who raced here before was the reconfiguring of the circuit to a shorter tighter track tucked up into the northside of the airport from the long, flowing course that covered much of airport east to west as well as north.
But things will be different again. It's new cars, engines and rules coming into play this time.
"I think we've seen with the new chassis, the new engines and, for me personally, with the change in the blocking rule, we've seen much better racing this year," said Hinchcliffe. The wheel-to-wheel racing on the road and street courses has been phenomenal.
"There are sentiments that it's going to be a hell of a race with the long braking zones and the push-to-pass this year. So I think we have an opportunity to put on a show this year. I think this could be one of the more exciting races on the calendar."
Wilson loves the new cars, too.
For one specific reason above the others. The tall man on the grid at 6-foot-5 has some room to stretch his legs.
"I thought they were built around Oriol," Wilson joked towards the more regular-racing-sized Servia.
"I cannot touch the pedals, thanks to you, Justin," the Spaniard shot back
"Yeah, they made the cars bigger so there's a little more room and also in that included padding," said Wilson. "It's nearly 12 months ago I broke my back at Mid-Ohio (road course). They added this foam so you're not sat right on the bottom of the car. Now you're sitting on this foam that can absorb some of the impact and that just makes it better for everybody, not just me."