06/06/2013 03:26 EDT | Updated 08/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Race fans flock to Montreal for Formula One weekend

Thousands of Grand Prix fans ignored the cool, rainy weather Thursday and flocked to Montreal's Crescent Street — the heart of pre-race action. Some tried their hand at changing racing-car tires at breakneck speed, while others just gawked at the flashy cars and pretty women.

Earlier, hundreds of fans dropped by the Gilles Villeneuve racetrack to watch as the final touches were put on the track.

According to Tourism Montreal, the Formula One weekend brings in $90 million for the city and its businesses.

This year, there are 6,400 more hotel rooms booked than in recent years, and as of last week, nearly 80 per cent of the city’s hotel rooms were spoken for.

Last year’s attendance took a hit, which some attributed to the student demonstrations.

Nude or barely clothed protesters clashed with police last June, after trying to disrupt Montreal’s Formula One events.

However, vendors are hoping this year will make up for fewer sales in 2012.

Ralph Toteda sells Grand Prix merchandise and said that for him, this weekend is busier than Christmas.

“It's a niche clientele — all the clientele is here in one place at one time in one weekend, so we gotta be here,” he said.