James Hinchcliffe is a Canadian racing driver who competes in the IndyCar Series since 2011. His biggest achievement is the Rookie of the Year award in his debut IndyCar season. Hinchcliffe's career is marked by horrific accident during practice for the 2015 Indianapolis 500 race, that put him in a hospital and forced him to pause with racing for the rest of the year.
Hinchcliffe's racing career started in 2003
James Hinchcliffe was born on December 6, 1986, in Oakville, Ontario. After few years in the karting competition, James debuted in the car racing in 2003, participating in the Bridgestone Academy's F2000 Racing Series, where he finished third in the points.
He returned to the series in 2004, but also switched to the Formula BMW USA. He won three out of fourteen races, taking the Rookie of the Year honor and finishing second overall, behind Andreas Wirth. The next step on the racing ladder was the Star Mazda series in 2005. He was the winner of three races and finished third in the points.
In 2006, Hinchcliffe entered the Champ Car Atlantic Series with Forsythe Racing. In twelve races, he scored one win and three podiums and finished 10th in the final classification. In June 2006, Hinchcliffe participated in his first sports car race, joining AIM Autosport at Daytona 250-mile race. He and fellow Canadian Mark Wilkins were driving Riley-Lexus prototype but failed to finish the race.
Representing Canada in the A1 Grand Prix Series
In the 2006-2007 season of the A1 Grand Prix Series, he was representing the Team Canada, together with Sean McIntosh. Hinchcliffe participated in fourteen races, finishing best in the second place in October's race at Masaryk Circuit in Brno. Team Canada finished 11th in the points.
In 2007, Hinchcliffe had a similar program, driving for Sierra Sierra Enterprises in the Champ Car Atlantic Series and for Team Canada in the A1 Grand Prix Series. With five podiums, he finished fourth in the Atlantic Series. In the A1 series, he participated in just three rounds, scoring no points in six races.
One more season in the Champ Car Atlantic Series followed in 2008, again with Forsythe Racing. James was again fourth in the points, scoring one race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The last step before IndyCar Series was the Indy Lights championship. In 2009, Hinchcliffe was driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, scoring five podiums in fifteen races and finishing fifth in the points.
Runner-up in the 2010 Indy Lights season
In 2010 Indy Lights season, Hinchcliffe was replaced in the #7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports' car with Jean-Karl Vernay and he moved to Team Moore Racing. Vernay became the champion, Hinchcliffe was the runner-up with three wins in thirteen races, collecting just 23 less than Vernay.
2011 - IndyCar debut with Newman/Haas Racing
In 2011, it was time for Hinchcliffe's debut in the North American premier open-wheeler series. He signed for Newman/Haas Racing to drive the #06 car, alongside teammate Oriol Servia in the #2 car. Hinchcliffe debuted in the second round at Barber Motorsports Park and failed to finish after a contact with a spinning E.J. Viso.
2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year
In the next race, at Grand Prix of Long Beach, James finished fourth. He repeated two more fourth-place finishes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway and finished 12th in the points at the end of the season. He took the Rookie of the Year award. In his first Indianapolis 500, he started 13th and crashed on lap 101. After the season, Newman/Haas Racing announced that he would not return to IndyCar in 2012, so James had to find a new team.
Daytona 24h debut in 2012
In January 2012, Hinchcliffe made a debut in the 24 hours of Daytona, driving the #70 Speedsource Mazda RX-8 alongside Sylvain Tremblay, Jonathan Bomarito and Marino Franchitti. They finished 16th overall and sixth in GT class.
Hinchcliffe joined Andretti Autosport in 2012
For 2012 IndyCar season, he made a deal with Andretti Autosport, replacing Danica Patrick in the GoDaddy-sponsored car, renumbered to #27. In his first season with Andretti, James scored podiums at Long Beach and Milwaukee, finishing third in both races.
At Indianapolis 500, he was the second best qualifier. In the race, he took the lead from pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe and led for five laps. After 200 laps, he finished 6th. At the end of the season, James was 8th in the points.
Maiden IndyCar victory on the streets of St.Petersburg
Hinchliffe scored his maiden IndyCar victory in the opening race of 2013 season, on the streets of St.Petersburg, Florida. Three rounds later, at Sao Paulo Indy 300 race, the second victory followed, after he passed Takuma Sato in the last turn.
The third victory came in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 in June. At Indianapolis 500, James finished 21st. Despite three wins, he again finished 8th in the points, same as the year before when he didn't score any win.
In January 2014, Hinchcliffe returned to the grid of the Daytona 24h race, again with Speedsource team. This time, he was driving Mazda Prototype, alongside Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long. They didn't finish the race.
No wins in the 2014 IndyCar season
In the 2014 IndyCar season, third with the Andretti's #27 car, James scored only one podium, finishing third at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. During the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Hinchcliffe was hit by debris and he suffered a concussion. He got a medical clearance to race again before Indianapolis 500, where he retired after an incident on lap 176.
In January 2015, Hinchcliffe had one more Daytona 24h attempt with Speedsource's Mazda Prototype, but the #70 car again didn't reach the finish. His co-drivers were Sylvain Tremblay, Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez.
Hinchcliffe and Sam Schmidt together again since 2015
For 2015 IndyCar season, Hinchcliffe rejoined Sam Schmidt, six years after their cooperation in the Indy Lights series, in the team renamed to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Hinchcliffe's car was the #5 Dallara DW12-Honda. In the second race of the season, at New Orleans' NOLA Motorsports Park, James scored his fourth IndyCar win in a career.
James survived horrific crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The next month, during the practice for Indianapolis 500, James sustained life-threatening injuries in a horrific crash. He was hospitalized and remained in a hospital for nine days. He was replaced by Ryan Briscoe in the race and later for the remainder of the season.
After a recovery, Hinchcliffe was able to drive IndyCar two-seater at the promotional event in August at Golden Gate Bridge and later in the Dan Wheldon Memorial Karting event in September, but he didn't return to the competition until the start of 2016 season.
Indy 500 return with pole position
For 2016, Hinchcliffe remained in the #5 Schmidt Peterson's car. The highlight of the season was his return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he won the pole position for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. In the race, he finished seventh. By the end of the season, James scored three podiums, finishing third in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Honda Indy Toronto and Firestone 600 at Texas. He ended a season 13th in the points.
In 2017, Hinchcliffe stayed with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, scoring one victory and two more podiums. He was a race winner at Long Beach. At the end of the season, he was 13th in the points again.
Unsuccessful Australian adventure
Besides racing with single-seaters and participating at Daytona 24-hour race, Hinchcliffe had a one-off appearance in the Australian V8 Supercars Championship. In October 2012, he participated in the Gold Coast 600 race at the Surfers Paradise street circuit, sharing the Garry Rogers Motorsport's Holden with Michael Caruso. They were the victims of the opening lap accident in the first race,while in the second race they retired after 34 laps.
Besides racing, James Hinchcliffe is a self-proclaimed major of the social media fictional town Hinchtown. When it comes to his private life, he is still not married.