Last year's Honda Indy winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Honda Indy to feature doubleheader in 2013

When defending champion Ryan Hunter-Reay returns to Toronto for the Honda Indy next year he’ll have not one but two opportunities to take another checkered flag.

That’s because for the first time since the inception of the Toronto Indy in 1986 the event will feature two IndyCar races in the same weekend from July 12-14, 2013.

The Honda Indy announced plans for the doubleheader in a statement released on their website late Sunday night.

“Toronto is a great venue for a doubleheader event,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of IndyCar. “Fans can always count on great on-track action, heated tempers and flag-to-flag drama when the IZOD IndyCar Series races on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. The fact we’ll get to do it twice this year will certainly entertain everyone.”

A second race has been added to increase the amount of races on the IndyCar schedule from 15 to 19.

Toronto will be joined by Detroit and Houston as the three venues that will feature doubleheaders during the 2013 season.

The races in Toronto, which take place on the downtown streets surrounding Exhibition Place near Lake Ontario, will run on Saturday and Sunday.

Each race, highlighted by standing starts, will count as its own stop on the schedule and full points will be awarded.

President and CEO of Tourism Toronto David Whitaker see’s the addition of an extra race as a huge positive for the city.

“The Honda Indy Toronto brings a shot of adrenaline to the city every summer,” Whitaker said. “With the event expanded to two marquee races Saturday and Sunday, visitors have even more reason to plan a weekend stay, while Toronto also benefits from the expanded broadcast and international exposure.”

Last year’s three-day festival that featured only one IndyCar race gave the local economy a roughly $50-million boost, according to a July article in The Toronto Star.

“Toronto is a first-rate, global city and a market that craves diversity,” said Mark Grimes, Chair of Exhibition Place and City Councillor for Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

“Having two IndyCar races will ratchet up the excitement and we believe our city, province and neighbouring regions will have the appetite for it. We’re excited to observe the results of this addition and offer our support to make it as beneficial as possible to local businesses, race fans, tourists and all other partners of the event.”

Officials say they’re in “the final stages of confirming its support series schedule for race weekend and fans can expect the full race lineup, along with ticket renewals and sales for 2013 to be announced in the coming weeks.”

Toronto will be the only Canadian stop on the 2013 schedule since Edmonton was dropped after losing it sponsor on Sept. 21.