The Return of Alex Tagliani

Alex Tagliani NPS

Canada’s own Alex Tagliani is returning to the Streets of Toronto, but not in his usual open-wheel racecar. This year Tagliani will be gracing the Honda Indy Toronto in Saturday’s Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto. Highlighted by a field full of Canadians, Tagliani looks to further cement his legacy in Canadian motorsport history.

Hailing from Lachenaie, Quebec, Tagliani – or “Tags” as he is commonly referred to – is one of the most consistent drivers on the Streets of Toronto. This year however, is a special one for him and his team. “Pinty’s worked very hard to bring the series back to Toronto. It’s very good for us because our program is supported by Epipen, which allows us to raise more awareness on food allergies,” he said. For those who have followed Tagliani throughout his career, he has never shied away from talking about how he has battled severe food allergies. “All my life I have lived with a severe food allergy. It was tough during my earlier racing years, but it is much better now.” Tagliani was proud to mention how the partnership with Pinty’s could not be a better fit for his program and his two passions – racing and food allergy awareness.

Tagliani’s love for racecar driving didn’t start in Canada. In fact it was a trip to Italy that ignited his passion for the sport. “My mom sent me there when I was ten years old to stay with my grandfather and to learn the language. When I was there my paternal grandfather bought me a go-kart. I was in heaven,” he said. Go karting was natural for Tagliani as he soon competed against children his age. “I was racing in the World Championship with kids eight to twelve years old. I was only ten and I was faster than everybody,” he commented. Following his stay in Italy, Tagliani returned back home to Canada with his go-kart by boat.

Tagliani has made many sacrifices to get to where he is today. When he returned to Canada Tagliani gave up many of the sports he has previously loved to play. “There was no more hockey or soccer. It was only racing. When I was done go karting I was not happy. I didn’t want to accept that,” he said. Tagliani realized at a very young age that in order to reach the pinnacle of racing he had to become his own manager. Evidently, racecar driving is an expensive sport. Tagliani worked tirelessly to secure sponsorships and create partnerships in order to compete with the world’s best drivers.

During the off-season Tagliani loves to keep himself busy. “I love spending time with my family, enjoying precious time with my kid, and training in the gym. I also love real estate, building, and doing stuff with the house. All of this requires attention to detail,” he said.  As you can imagine, whether he is on or off the track, Tagliani is always on-the-go. Tagliani even has his own peanut-free oatmeal cookie line called Tag on the GO.

Tagliani's best finish in Toronto came in 2001 where he finished second only behind seven-time Toronto Indy winner Michael Andretti. This year Tagliani looks to beat that performance with a win in the Pinty's Grand Prix of Toronto. What does a win this weekend mean for Tags: “I don’t know, that’s tough to think about. It will be amazing that’s for sure. At this point in my career, I’m not selfish. I don’t think about just myself. I think about our program and our sponsors. We’re capable of coming out with a win. Everybody will be happy and all the hard work from the team will be realized. You can thank your crew anytime, but when you win it changes everything.” And a win is something Tagliani is capable of achieving this weekend, but he'll have to overcome some of Canada's finest stock car drivers including Andrew Ranger. Given his recent performances at Sunset Speedway and Autodrome Chaudiere, Tagliani is certainly a threat on the Streets of Toronto.

Matthew is interning with Honda Indy Toronto this summer. @mattjpaladino