Untried but True in Toronto
Sports Car Canada Championship
Honda Indy Toronto
July 14-16, 2023
Racing to End Alzheimer’s is only as strong as its people. Through the years, champions, supporters, partners, sponsors and team members have been endless sources of inspiration to our cause. Over the course of a busy season, we are too rarely given the opportunity to step back and appreciate the legion of individuals behind this mission. But every once in a while, a race weekend comes along that reminds us of how lucky we are.
At the Honda Indy Toronto leg of the Sports Car Championship Canada, Racing to End Alzheimer’s partnered with Dr. Vince Partap of VPX Motorsport and Chris Bye of FEL Motorsports to run a name-clad Mercedes AMG GT4 with Nick Galante behind the wheel. New partners, a veteran driver and 24 more names on the purple and white livery. People, coming together to do some good and burn a little rubber.
No Rust to Be Found
Nick Galante is a pro among pros, a fact he proved again in Toronto. For many, never having raced on a street course would be prohibitive to success in a professional street course race. Not for Galante. The well-seasoned driver, whose last official race was during the previous IMSA season, took the wheel in Canada and put on a clinic.
Nick wasted no time. During Friday’s qualifying, he started off on a blistering pace that had him set for pole position. As the session came to a close, however, high tire pressure readings forced Galante to ease off slightly, dropping him to a still enviable third place start for Saturday.
Like Riding a Bike, Except at 200 MPH
With the two lead cars squarely in his sights at Saturday morning’s start line, Nick hit the gas without hesitation. Before the green flag had a chance to stop waving, Galante’s No. 77 Mercedes made a passing move in turn one to take second place. Settling in for a short stint, Nick then waited patiently for a chance to seize the lead. Just before the midway point, he got it.
Openings in this type of race can be incredibly small; a slightly wide turn here, a late downshift there, worn out tires on the right stretch of track. These things, often unseen by casual spectators, make or break the race for a pro. Luckily for Racing to End Alzheimer’s, Galante rarely misses an opening. He took advantage of a passing chance, threading the needle into first place right as a full course caution came into effect for a collision in turn 11. At the restart, he padded his lead and held it for the remainder of the race, giving him a much-appreciated welcome-back victory.
Clipped but Still Flying
After a smoothly navigated morning race, Saturday’s afternoon encore proved to be more of a street fight. Starting from where he left off, Nick sped the No. 77 into first at the offset, slipping in just ahead of Jack Polito’s very quick Mustang. Unwilling to concede an inch, Polito bore down on the No. 77, practically touching its tailpipe with his front bumper. With 30 minutes to go, the Mustang made its move on the inside, clipping the No. 77’s left side and sending Galante spinning in the process.
Luckily, when the world stopped spinning, Nick found himself off the wall and only two spots back from the lead. Remarkably unshaken, he took a breath and got back to work. Emerging from a caution period, the No. 77 overtook second place and looked to manufacture some magic in the final minutes. Unfortunately, the dreaded yellow flag emerged, solidifying placements and effectively ending the race with Galante in second.
Fast Against Fast
Sunday’s race required every bit of skill and strategy that the team could muster. The Mercedes AMG GT4, beautifully set up by VPX engineer Alex Ellis, was blindingly fast in turns and second to only Jack Polito’s Mustang on straights. For Galante and VPX/Racing to End Alzheimer’s, the key to victory lay in near perfect execution on Toronto’s turns and surge abatement on its two long straightaways.
Despite a fast start from the pole, Galante felt the heat from Polito through the entire race. He would build some space in the curves and lose it on the fast sections. Mustang and Mercedes, alone at the top and unrelenting. As the race came to a close, Galante held Polito off, avoiding mistakes and focusing on putting down good lap after good lap. When the checkered flag waved, the No. 77 remained in first and the whole team breathed again, taking satisfaction in a two-victory weekend.
Thanks for tuning in. More soon.