An overhead view of the Niagara Speedway.
Photo: HOCO Entertainment & Resorts
If you haven’t been to Clifton Hill recently, you’re in for an eye-popping treat when you visit. With the addition of the newly opened Niagara Speedway and a refresh of some of the attraction dotting the Hill’s landscape, first-time and veteran visitors alike have a lot to explore.
Following the opening on May 24, 2018, the Speedway has become a popular destination for thrill-seekers.
“The reception has been phenomenal, with fast-moving lineups daily from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Several hundred thousand people have enjoyed the experience so far this summer,” wrote Joel Noden, director of marketing at HOCO Entertainment & Resorts, in an email interview. He added that the project was years in the making.
Harry Oakes, president of HOCO Ltd. and the mastermind behind the speedway concept and design, brought together a team to finalize and construct the track and surrounding grounds. A Canadian and American consortium of companies led the track development, including HOCO Limited, J&J Amusements of Salem, Oregon, and architects Brent Butler and Roberto Narduzzo. VanBoxmeer, Stranges & Antonio of London, Ontario focused on structural design. Local companies involved in construction included E.S. Fox Ltd., Niagara Concrete Canada, Cotton Inc., Niagara Erectors and Peninsula Fencing, among others.
The speedway was tested against other types of attractions and proved to be the attraction with the highest level of interest among guests surveyed. Research was then conducted as to what type of facility to build and plans were developed.
“We had traveled all over North America looking at the various track designs that were in operation. There were great road and Formula-style courses out there as well as short track elevated tracks. However, no one had combined the two,” said Noden.
“With the size of the footprint available to us, we took on the challenge of building the unique course that is the only one of its kind in North America.”
While 2017 was the original target date to open, “we wanted to create a one-of-a-kind track, (which) added to the schedule and resulted in an opening in spring of 2018. There was a feeling that additional attractions and things to do, especially for families, were needed in the destination,” said Noden.
The Niagara Speedway fit well into the mix of attractions currently in operation on Clifton Hill, as it’s exciting for guests in their 20s and early 30s as well as young families.
As is reported in the Niagara Falls Review, the 10-acre project included renovations to existing restaurants, new attractions, concessions and parking. Continually changing the landscape of Clifton Hill and adding new attractions is vital to the Hill’s competitiveness on the global stage.
“HOCO is constantly in a state of redesign and refreshment of our restaurants and attractions,” said Noden, adding that Boston Pizza, Wendy’s and Tim Hortons were completely renovated and upgraded this spring. In recent years, more indoor seating, an indoor/outdoor bar, numerous TV screens and true Canadiana decor were added at Kelseys, while outside, the patio was enlarged and fitted with heated flooring to extend patio season. The popular restaurant is now also fitted with retractable awnings and retractable see-through walls.
HOCO’s safe, clean, and well-lit parking facility accommodates both cars and buses.
“We demonstrate through our actions that we want our visitors from around the world to come to Clifton Hill, feel safe and appreciated and most importantly, have fun. Hopefully, they share their experience with their friends back home and encourage them to spend some time with us.”
More plans are in the works for HOCO - the company is now focusing on what to do with some of its other attractions and once winter arrives, another phase of redevelopment will begin.
“The past 10 years have involved major changes to our property and while the changes over the next few years may not be as extensive as removing two hotels and adding a giant observation wheel (Niagara Skywheel), a fire-shooting volcano nestled amongst life-size dinosaurs (Dinosaur Adventure Golf), or the largest Go-Kart track Canada has ever seen, we are constantly looking at ways to improve our offering, getting our guests back several times a year and giving people from around the earth another reason to come to Niagara Falls,” wrote Noden.
August 3 to 6
Downtown Port Colborne
Take in the Canal Days Concert Series at H.H. Knoll Lakeview Park, and fireworks.
August 4 and 5
Queen Victoria Park, Niagara Falls
Photo: Niagara Parks
Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum
Learn about how the nation’s oldest printing press helped John Graves Simcoe shape the province of Upper Canada at the Mackenzie Printery during Simcoe Days.
Photo: Niagara Parks
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Photos: Allison Smith
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