From a race fans standpoint, this year's show is the best we've been to since heading down to the Canadian International Auto Show for the first time 7 or 8 years ago.
In the year's immediately following the economic down-turn, the show shrunk drastically and car companies weren't too big on flaunting expensive racing programs while flirting with bankruptcy, fighting declining sales and laying off workers.
Things have gotten a little better in the year's following the downturn, but this year is definitely a highpoint, with a significant number of manufacture's displaying samples of their racing programs.
The show started off with the Audi launch, and as expected their R18 E-Tron Quattro Le Mans car was on hand. And while we expected to see the Audi, we weren't expecting to see the Le Mans race winning Porsche 919 a few booths down, alongside the new GT4 Clubsport. Sadly, this will be the only chance we'll get to see either of these cars in Canada. If you want to see them in action, you'll have to head down to Texas or maybe Mexico.
Nissan has Olivier Bedard's Micra Cup Championship winning car on display, complete with wheel marks from a season of close combat. There were a couple of Scion drift cars, probably the last year you will see them branded as Scion's with Toyota's recent announcement that the brand would be folded, with a couple of models being brought into the Toyota ranks.
Pfaff has Chris Green's championship winning GT3 Cup car on hand upstairs, as well as one of my all time favourite’s, the Fina-sponsored McLaren F1 GTR downstairs. You'll find Antoine L'estage's rally car, Matthew Scannell's Pinty's NASCAR Series car, a Formula SAE offering from the University of Toronto, and race cars of all types throughout every floor and display of the show.
Honda, as always, has a big racing presence with an Indy Car from James Hinchcliffe on hand, as well as promotion for this year's Honda Indy Toronto. And on the subject of the Honda Indy, don't forget to take advantage the Auto Show's limited time offer for discount tickets to this year's race by clicking here:
Still in the Honda family and just next door, the Acura booth had an NASA ILX endurance car on display.
Indy Car has also provided us with the star of this year's show, the Indy Car Hall of Fame display downstairs in the North Building. Duesenberg, Lotus, Penske, Reynard, diesel and turbine cars, almost a dozen in all, as well as a rundown on all the Canadians who have run at Indy, dating back to 1909. Take a look at almost all of these cars, and ask yourself, “Would I really hurl myself around the Indianapolis Speedway at more than 100MPH in one of these”? The racers in those days were truly courageous folk, and it really makes you appreciate just how far safety has come in 100 years.
Following media day on Friday, the Hall of Fame display hosted James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly for a very entertaining press conference. We'll have video of the press conference with Hinch and Conor up in a few days.
As good as this year's show is, one thing that hasn't changed, unfortunately, is that both BMW and Mercedes once again ignored our DTM stars, Bruno Spengler and Robert Wickens. Other than a small 1/43 scale model of one of a 2 year old Wickens car in the back of the Mercedes booth, mixed in with the rest of the swag, there is no sign of either driver, anywhere. Both Porsche and Audi can bring over their WEC cars, that aren't raced anywhere in Canada and aren't driven by Canadians, but BMW and Mercedes continue to ignore their Canadian stars. We've asked about this in past years and get the usual corporate PR nonsense, so we don't even bother anymore. We'll continue to keep all our readers up to date on Spengler and Wickens, but it's really sad that two of Canada's premier brands have no desire to showcase their Canadian talent.
If you're a racing fan, this year's show is an absolute must, you'll get an opportunity to see race cars you'd have to travel all over the continent to see otherwise. Take a look at our gallery below, shot by long-time RaceCanada photographer Perry Blocher, then find some time to get down in person to check them out up close.