Returning to Montreal for the first time since 2019, the energy of the Canadian Grand Prix was unmatched in the city center throughout the weekend.
As the cars raced around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finally taking the checkered flag, Montrealers rejoiced on a rare sunny day in June.
“I am really excited to see Montreal come alive again after two years of not having any international crowds,” said Yan Maurice McNiven. “It’s really cool to see the people and all these streets get the attention they deserve.”
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As is often the case with Grand Prix race weekends, it’s all about the atmosphere, even if most of the fans don’t attend the race.
“It’s always an exciting time to watch the races,” said Formula One fan Andrew Lowry. “And it’s nice to be in the thick of it all here and just immerse ourselves in the real racing experience.”
“It’s been a long time,” Oliver Reed added. “We haven’t seen it. We have been in lockdown for a while. And it’s great to be here in the summer. You know, it’s nice here today.
Some racing fans traveled from the US and abroad to be a part of the experience.
“It’s part of my roots,” said New Yorker David Minicuci. “My parents came from Italy. My dad always brought me to the races. I’ve been coming to this track since the ’90s.”
For many downtown bars and pubs, on Peel Street and Crescent Steet and beyond, they finally saw large and sustained crowds after two years into the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had about 250 tickets without my card sales,” said Nezhat Kaddour, manager of Peel Pub. “So that’s at least 250 people. In addition to the tables that were paid in a single bill or anything.
“I hope it stays the same for the rest of the summer for the next events, because this one helped us after COVID. It helped us a little bit, so maybe hopefully we’ll make things better in the future.”
“For Montreal, what it brings, you can’t get that kind of publicity because everybody sees the race and goes down,” added Ziggy Eichenbaum, owner of Ziggy’s Pub. “And I have so many people who came to the Grand Prix and then they come back to the Jazz Fest or Comedy Fest because they love it.”
Post-Formula One fans flock downtown, pack the bars for Grand Prix race day: ‘It’s Been A Long Time’ first appeared on CityNews Montreal.