Jul 17, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Canadians are known for being some of the most dedicated, hearty and passionate fans of open-wheel racing.
Ordinarily at the Honda Indy Toronto around the streets of Exhibition Place, they’ve had two or more Canadians to root for in the main race.
This year, there is but one: James Hinchcliffe. And Hinch, the sole Canuck in the field of 23 during this weekend’s pair of Verizon IndyCar Series races, is the first driver to fly the flag solo in this event since 1990.
Two veterans have seen their full-time IndyCar careers come to an end in the last few years since Hinchcliffe was a rookie in 2011, in the form of Alex Tagliani (a 14-time Toronto starter) and two-time Toronto winner Paul Tracy (a 19-time Toronto starter).
PT is, of course, now in the booth for NBCSN for coverage (Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra). A 19-time starter, a 16th-place finish for Dragon Racing in 2011 marked Tracy’s last ever race finished in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He’s also the most recent Canadian to win on home soil, having captured the 2003 Champ Car race there.
Here’s the Canadian honor roll between the first Toronto race in 1986 and today. But it’s been 24 years when the last Honda Indy – then Molson Indy – went off with just one Canadian. In 1990, it was Scott Goodyear.
- James Hinchcliffe, 2011-present
- Alex Tagliani, 2000-2013
- Paul Tracy, 1992-2011
- Andrew Ranger, 2005-2006
- Patrick Carpentier, 1997-2004
- Greg Moore, 1996-1999
- Scott Goodyear, 1987, 1989-1994, 1996
- Jacques Villeneuve (II), 1994-1995
- Ross Bentley, 1992-1994
- John Jones, 1988-1989, 1991
- Jacques Villeneuve (I), 1986
It’s worth asking, then, who the talented Canadians are in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Here’s the quick summation of who’s where at the moment. Keep an eye on this group, particularly Hargrove, to see who could be next after Hinchcliffe to make his debut in the Verizon IndyCar Series:
- Indy Lights: Zack Meyer, Matthew Di Leo
- Pro Mazda: Scott Hargrove, Garett Grist, Dalton Kellett
- USF2000: Daniel Burkett, Nathan Blok, James Dayson