One year after a crash that almost ended his life, James Hinchcliffe secured pole position for the Indianapolis 500.
The 29 year old has no recollection of the accident, which caused a part of the suspension rod to impale his leg, almost killing him. While some might never want to be reminded of such a place, Hinchcliffe is relishing a return to the Indy 500.
“I’ve tried very hard to not associate anything I went through subsequently—any of the pain or the rehab or anything like that—with the track. To me, it’s two very different things. So there were no issues coming back here at all.” ~ James Hinchcliffe
Driving for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports, the accident rocked the entire team. That made Hinchcliffe’s pole winning lap all the more emotional for everyone. On Sunday though, it’s back to business for the man affectionally known as “The Mayor of Hinchtown,” who remains realistic about his chances of victory.
Ten miles in qualifying is one thing. And 500 miles with 32 other guys is a totally different deal. We have to let our minds get back to work and kind of refocus.”
Hinchcliffe torpedoed his car around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis track with a four-lap average of 230.76 mph, fastest in qualifying. He has a feeling he may not be leading for long. In 2012, when starting second on the grid, Hinchcliffe had overtaken the leader before lap two. Anyone experienced driver like Hinchcliffe knows that the Indy 500 isn’t about lap one. It’s about what happens on lap 200.
How the accident almost killed him
During practice on May 18th, 2015, Hinchcliffe’s car slammed into a wall, causing a piece of debris to tear through his leg. As rescue workers struggled to free him, Hinchcliffe nearly bled out and died. The horrific injuries left Hinchcliffe fighting for his life on a ventilator. Asked how long it took him to consider jumping back into his car, he said: “About 34 seconds after I woke up in hospital.”
“It was third question I asked when I was in the ICU. I was on ventilators, I had a tube in my throat, I had to talk with a pen and a piece of paper, and the third question that I wrote down was, ‘When can I get back in a racecar?’ “
No one would be unhappy if the Mayor of Hinchtown was drinking the milk come Sunday afternoon.