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The Globe and Mail

Building Toronto's Indy track is a challenge but creates thrilling environment

Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Dario Franchitti of Scotland races to a first place finish during the Honda Indy in Toronto July 10, 2011.

Mike Cassese/Reuters/Mike Cassese/Reuters

The Indy-style open wheel cars that take on the 1.75-mile Honda Indy course July 8 buzz after each other like angry hornets at more than 110 miles a hour – that's more than 178 kilometers an hour for 2.84 kilometre course that rumbles through surface changes from concrete to black asphalt in 11 turns around the Exhibition Place and Lake Shore Boulevard along the shore of Lake Ontario.

Small wonder that approximately 200 construction workers take 39 days to build the course and 21 days to tear it down every year.

It's not just a test for drivers but is has to keep both the drivers and the expected 135,000 spectators safe on the Indy weekend.

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The Exhibition Place layout course requires more that 2,000 steel-reinforced concrete barriers, each measuring 12 feet long and three feet high (3.65 metres long and .91 metres high). The total length of the blocks spans more than 12,000 feet or about 3,657 metres; and is made using more than 3,900 kilos of concrete. More than 1,200 sheets of fencing surround the track with each fence standing at eight feet high and 12 feet long. The track also features over 1,600 feet – 488 metres – of protective tire wall, each one standing five tires high, and four race car paddocks "The Honda Indy Toronto has one of the most challenging and exciting layouts among the street courses in North America," Roger Peart, president of the circuits commission for the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) said in a statement.

"The build is a complex process and it's amazing what (construction boss and director of operations Jim) Tario and the team are able to construct over such a short period of time. Organizers of the event in recent years have invested in new track infrastructure, making the racing experience at Toronto not only thrilling, but safe for everyone involved."

Peart is responsible for overseeing all internationally licensed racing circuits and, like Tario, has been inspecting the Honda Indy Toronto race track for more than two decades. The race, which has existed under various sponsorships, is marking its 26th season.

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Sports reporter

James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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