When you change the layout of any long standing sporting venue, you are going to elicit commentary and the inevitable criticism. When you change the layout of a fan favourite race track, you’ve gotta be prepared for some hefty scrutiny.
Organizers of the Honda Indy Toronto announced earlier this week that the layout of the track on Toronto’s waterfront was being modified to move the pit lane. Instead of being located on driver’s right, along the start-finish straight, pit lane will now be on driver’s left at the exit of turn 9, in front of the horse palace and will wind its way to the exit of turn 11, where pit out dumps onto the front straight.
For reference, here is the traditional layout of pit lane, as it has been up until last year.
There will be those who think this is the stupidest idea ever conceived of. Rather than jump on that bandwagon, let us look at the ups and downs of the decision.
PRO – Logistics
The Indycar and support series paddocks will remain in their existing locations, in the infield and the Enercare Centre respectively. The reality of these locations is that it takes effort to get pit lane set up for every series in the event.
In the past, the Indycar paddock was closest to pit lane, and their gear remained in pit lane, which meant that only the cars had to be rolled into place at the start of each session. All of the supporting series had to be transported a healthy distance from the outfield, bringing cars, pit carts and everything needed for a session. It was a slow and painful process that had to happen at the beginning and end of every session.
Now, with the pit lane being directly outside of the support series paddock, the race weekend schedule should flow much more quickly, requiring less transition time between series. Instead of having to move four or five entire grids across the track, only the Indycars themselves need make the trek.
CON – Pit lane safety
Curved pit lanes are nothing new and even the old pit lane at Toronto had a kink in it, but having walked this section of track many times over the years, I just can’t see how this S shaped stretch is going to be safe. Hard acceleration, cold tires, blind visibility. No good can come from this.
CON – Turn 11
The left hand turn onto the front straight is fast and blind, and has a history of being the scene of some pretty crazy crashes. Having cars exit the pits at the exit of turn 11 is asking for trouble.
Mixed blessings – photography
Us photographer types can be somewhat of a whiny bunch and few things get us riled up like the limited access available at a street race. Take away our photo holes and we go crazy. In this case, a large stretch of many shooters’ favourite places to shoot are being taken away. On the other hand, it looks like we will probably be given access to turn 11, which we haven’t had before. Add in the fact that we will now be able to create images with the Toronto skyline as a back drop to the front straight and I think most will be happy. Provided of course that they actually allow us to shoot there.