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Up to Speed with James Hinchcliffe

The Canadian IndyCar driver on his accident, recovery and return to Canada for Honda Indy Toronto

Canadian IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe in his black and Honda Indy car

Since he was 18 months old, James Hinchcliffe hasn’t missed one Toronto IndyCar race, either as a spectator or a competitor.

It’s quite a feat considering he was in a serious, life-threatening accident back in May 2015 in Indianapolis (now his home base). After only recovering for about a month—going back and forth between the hospital and his home—he still made it to Toronto for last year’s event. He received clearance to travel the Wednesday before, he said, and by Thursday was on a plane. “Even though I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, I wasn’t going to miss it if the doctors were going to let me go.”

Hinchcliffe wasn’t there to race, but he was honoured as the event’s grand marshal. He was also able to say a little something to the fans who, Hinchcliffe says, had been so supportive throughout his recovery. The only Canadian stop on the IndyCar Series circuit holds sentimental value for the 29-year-old from Oakville, Ont.

Before he had even seen the event on TV, he was in the stands watching the race with his dad. “That obviously has a big effect on a kid,” he says.

He’s biased, of course, but Hinchcliffe says the Honda Indy Toronto does stand out as a driver favourite on the calendar (something he claims to have confirmed with his teammates). “The city has so much to offer; it’s so beautiful [and has] so many people. The fans are knowledgeable, they’re engaging, they’re friendly, and the track itself—it’s a super challenging street course and as racing drivers, we all like the challenge. So, it really checks all the boxes.”

Thankfully, Hinchcliffe has made a full recovery (he’s been back on the track since September 2015), and says that he’s fit and focused on the season. In July 2016, he was back in the driver’s seat on the Toronto circuit, which speeds its way through and around the Exhibition Place grounds.