James Hinchcliffe addresses media at Milwaukee Mile
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN
Full Throttle Magazine
WEST ALLIS – Trying to slow down a race car driver is not easy.
James Hinchcliffe has learned this out the hard way.
Almost two months since a scary crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the Indianapolis 500 that nearly took his life, the 28-year-old Canadian driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series talked about how difficult it has been to do that: slow down.
“It’s been a lot of long days, not doing much, which, unfortunately, is what I’ve been told to do and the few times I’ve disobeyed that order I’ve paid for it dearly,” Hinchcliffe said Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile as the IndyCar Series prepared for the ABC Supply Co. Inc Wisconsin 250. “So I’ve learned the doctors kind of know what they’re talking about and you should probably listen to them. And that’s what I’ve been doing.
“So it’s been, like I said, it feels slow, but the doctors are telling me everything’s going very quickly, so no complaints.”
Well, he does have some complaints, but has realized it’s become part of the process.
“The recovery process has been a lot of PlayStation,” Hinchcliffe said. “The big decision every morning is between how much time do I spend in bed versus how much time do I spend on the couch.”
In the crash Hinchcliffe had the steel wishbone enter and exit his right leg, then enter his upper left thigh, and continue into his pelvic region, where it came to a stop. The suspension component pinned him in the car, leading the safety team to cut the wishbone from the chassis in order to get Hinchcliffe out of the car.
Since then, he’s gone through several surgeries to get his feet back underneath him and all while trying to stay positive and his usual upbeat self.
“Painful, but necessary,” said Hinchcliffe when asked what it has been like to be at the race track and unable to race. “I mean, for me, I’m still as much a part of this team as I was driving behind the wheel.”
So when will Hinchcliffe, the mayor of Hinchtown, return to the track?
“I think as far as the doctors are concerned, being ready for off-season testing shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “I obviously still have one surgery to go, so some of the rehab and physical therapy is going to be more heavily weighted after that surgery.”
His next surgery is slated for later this month.
“Days spent relaxing can be exhausting,” he said. “There is still some pain that creeps in from time to time and dealing with that can certainly make a day worse than the previous or the next.”
The 2015 season is Hinchcliffe’s fifth in the IndyCar Series. Before his injury, Hinchcliffe had competed in five races with his new team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He won the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.
He returned to the track last month during the IndyCar Series’ visit to Hinchcliffe’s hometown (Toronto).
“The trip to Toronto was actually handled very well,” said Hinchcliffe, who was the grand marshal for the race. “We obviously took a pretty strict stance on doing as little as possible, and I really appreciate and respect everybody from the teams and the fans and the media and everybody giving me that freedom.”
“I felt really good after the weekend and was very glad that I was well enough and given permission to get out there and see it in person,” he added.
Already having been ruled out for the season, Hinchcliffe is doing all he can to learn and prepare for the 2016 season. That’s served as a much-needed motivator for him.
One other thing Hinchcliffe is working on as he recovers is his weight. He’s lost about 15 pounds since the crash.
He admitted at the hospital it was hard for him to step onto the scale and see the weight loss.
But he offered one creative way, as he usually does, on how to help get at least some of that back.
“The camera adds 10 pounds,” he said. “That’s two-thirds of what I need.”
Follow Nicholas on Twitter: @dettmann_wbdn