IndyCars in Toronto
Editor's Notebook, August 1996
Toronto is a vibrant city. The visitor is offered a variety of pleasures, plazas in which to stroll, ethnic neighborhoods to visit, nightlife areas to explore, music, theater, and dance. When the IndyCar show comes to town, Toronto welcomes it with open arms.
As we all know now, however, Toronto has some mean streets. The concrete barriers and cyclone fencing lining the racing circuit that wends its way in and out of Exhibition Place create a treacherous route for any driver. In order to win, a driver must take the car to the edge of control. In order to finish, the driver must stay on this side of that edge. There is no room for error on a street course.
The breeze coming off Lake Ontario can not cool the heat from the track and the lemonade and ice cream sold by the vendors can not sweeten the smell of burning race fuel, smoking tires, and scorched brake pads. The thrill of watching race cars at full bore accelerate out of turn two, head down the lake shore and brake hard just a few feet before the tight right-hander of turn three will stay with me for quite a while.
In a rare racing accident that no one anticipated or wanted, Jeff Krosnoff, an IndyCar driver, and Gary Avrin, a course marshal, died instantaneously when Jeff's car left the track during the Toronto IndyCar race in early July. Those of us who love motorsports understand and accept the risks involved. Auto racing, and IndyCar racing in particular, is becoming ever more safety conscious. The danger exemplified by the accident that took Jeff's and Gary's lives, though, is integral to the sport.
Three hours before that accident, Kathryn `Kat' Teasdale was charging through the chutes of the Toronto circuit. Kat was the only woman driver in a field of forty nine entries in the street stock Enduroseries. Her race-prepared Pontiac Firebird was one of the most powerful cars in an event that featured Cobras, Porsches, Corvettes, Ferraris, RX7's, Trans Ams, and 300ZX's. She was on her way to a probable podium finish when a small glitch during a pit stop put her down a few positions.
In her fire suit, full-face helmet, and gloves, and strapped into a fire-breathing, full-throated racing device, Kat did not drive like a woman. She did not drive like a man. She drove with great skill, with tremendous courage, at times with unlimited bravado, and with no less machismo, than any of her competition. Her blue Firebird was mean and brash, and as fast as any machine out there that day.
Kat Teasdale drives like a race car driver. We've profiled her in this issue of Distant Thunder.