Cana­dian Hinch­cliffe rolling on, off the track

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS - BY GRE­GORY STRONG

Canada’s James Hinch­cliffe feels quite com­fort­able rac­ing at speeds a reg­u­lar driver can’t even be­gin to con­tem­plate. It’s when he’s ne­go­ti­at­ing traf­fic off the Indycar cir­cuit that the nerves re­ally come out.

“To be hon­est, the road ac­tu­ally ter­ri­fies me,” he said with a laugh while driv­ing in Toronto’s down­town core. “I feel much more com­fort­able do­ing 300 kilo­me­tres an hour on a race­track than I do do­ing 100 on the 401 (high­way).”

Hinch­cliffe stuck to the speed limit dur­ing a wide-rang­ing, half-hour in-car in­ter­view.

The hair­pin turns and straight­aways of road rac­ing were re­placed by dif­fer­ent ob­sta­cles like ag­gres­sive taxi driv­ers and om­nipresent street­car tracks.

“On the race­track I’m sur­rounded by pro­fes­sion­als that have ded­i­cated their en­tire lives to do­ing this one task,” Hinch­cliffe said. “You’re in a pur­pose­built car, at a very safe fa­cil­ity, I’m wear­ing six seat belts and a hel­met, and all these great things. On the road, there’s all these things that could jump out at you.

“There’s street­cars, pedes­tri­ans, there could be some guy that lost his li­cence a year ago for driv­ing reck­lessly and he’s still some­how in a car. You don’t know who you’re around. So it’s a lit­tle bit more of an in­tim­i­dat­ing task.”

Hinch­cliffe was in town Mon­day as part of a me­dia blitz ahead of the July 14-16 Honda Indy Toronto. It’s an event that is close to his heart.

He was just a tod­dler when he took in the race for the first time and he’s been to ev­ery edi­tion since as ei­ther a spec­ta­tor or a par­tic­i­pant.

It was on the Ex­hi­bi­tion Place grounds where he met his sport­ing hero, the late Cana­dian driver Greg Moore, back in 1999.

Hinch­cliffe said he waited for over three hours by Moore’s trailer that day as he clutched an old steer­ing wheel that he hoped Moore would sign. Even­tu­ally a me­chanic no­ticed the young Hinch­cliffe and he had Moore come out to sign the wheel and chat.

“That was an un­for­get­table mo­ment for me as a kid meet­ing my hero like that,” Hinch­cliffe re­called.

“And ob­vi­ously it was the last chance I got to meet him be­cause he was killed later that year. So it was a very spe­cial mo­ment for me.”

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