It’s been nearly two years since ONtheGO last spoke with James Hinchcliffe; having endured a life-altering incident and a team change since then, the “Mayor of Hinchtown” hasn’t missed a beat physically or mentally. We had the opportunity to chat with the Oakville, Ontario native and he did not shy away from any questions about his career.
OTG: It’s been a while since our last conversation, what advice would you give 2014 James?
Hinch: Skip the Indy 500! I kid of course… what happened there was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’d tell 2014 me not to sweat the small stuff.
Hinchcliffe is of course referring to the injuries he suffered (which include a concussion) from flying debris at the Indianapolis 500. However, while his commitment to physical fitness no doubt sped along his recovery, it has simultaneously kept him in the top tier of his sport.
Hinch: I am way fitter now than I was back then … a combination of inexperience and youthful ignorance means that drivers don’t take fitness as seriously early on. For me, my training is more regular, more rigorous and more complete than it was.
Unbeknownst to most, a high-level of cardiovascular training is required to be a racer. The IndyCar driver went into detail about how his career can often mimic that of a fighter pilot.
Hinch: People don’t realize how much work goes into breathing techniques … you are subjected to quite high G-forces.
With speeds easily reaching over 300 km/h, breaking and cornering requires a driver to both regulate and time their breathing properly. It is entirely possible to pass out if this isn’t done properly.
In 2015 Hinchcliffe made the switch from Andretti Autosport to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He describes his new team as being a bit smaller but a supportive organization, built on great people.
At this point in his career, most would expect the 29-year-old to put a lot of pressure on himself to finish on the podium race-afterrace. But Hinchcliffe prefers to stay away from putting a number on where he should finish in both races and standings.
“I don’t like talking about points or ‘points racing.’ We all know the jobs we have to do … if we just execute week in and week out, and do the absolute best job we are capable of doing then that’s a good year for me.” It’s this attitude that has made the driver an expected top-ten finisher in every race, as well as the overall standings.
Although his career requires intense focus and discipline, Hinchcliffe still finds time to support organizations such as the Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation of Canada (WMFC.ca). Started by his mother, the charity honours his grandfather’s battle with white blood cell cancer. Hinch stresses the importance of blood donations, its importance and the effect it can have.
As far as the sport goes, he’d like to see more coverage since major national papers don’t have motorsports journalists presently. He believes with a few more Canadian drivers in the IndyCar Series the broadcast coverage will come.
For now, we’ll all just have to keep supporting the local star, by adding numbers to the population of Hinchtown.
THE LIGHTER SIDE
OTG: Since many of our readers are commuters, can you tell us your favourite non-racing location to drive in Ontario?
Hinch: My family has a cottage in Muskoka, the long, gentle curves in the roads up there are very pleasant. The scenery doesn’t hurt either!
Earlier this year, he and four other IndyCar drivers appeared on Family Feud starring Steve Harvey, which certainly was a change in pace by sitting in a make-up chair rather than a driver seat.
OTG: Besides Family Feud, any other favourite game shows from your childhood?
Hinch: I was also a big Price is Right kid! At that age the only thing I knew was the cost of candy or a video game rental, but I always watched with my brother and sister.