The prospect of moving to a successful team is an motivating feeling for Hinchcliffe and getting to partner with an owner with Canadian roots is a welcomed bonus.
“I’m very excited to get to a team that has done an awful lot in Indy Car in a pretty short period of time. It’s very exciting from a driver’s point of view, and the fact that one of the owners is Canadian makes it that much better,” he says. “Getting to come up here and seeing a little bit of what Ric does and how he was able to go play with race cars is really cool. Sam [Schmidt] and Ric were dead set on wanting to get a Canadian in the car and the feeling was mutual so the process was real easy.”
Added to the personal satisfaction of racing for a Canadian owner, Hinchcliffe hopes the move will give Canadian racing fans more reason to support him, and the team.
“It’s awesome honestly because he’s the only Canadian owner and I’m the only Canadian driver so the fact that we ended up together makes it that much better,” he explains. “The support that I’ve gotten from back home has been incredible the last couple years and I think this adds another element to that. I think the Canadian race fans are going to really appreciate that Ric and I are working together now.”
Being with a Canadian team, Hinchclife wants to help return racing in Canada to the position it once had around ten years ago with multiple Canadians racing in premier racing circuits.
“I think the biggest challenge that Canadians face, I don’t want to say in a bad way, but the lack of support from corporate Canada,” he states. “The two big challenges that I think we face is that so many companies that have a big presence in Canada are actually owned by US companies and are subsidiaries or whatever. The other side of it is hockey. Hockey takes sponsorship dollars all days and all night and it’s a big challenge for us. That’s why for me the real goal is to get Indy Car in general as a series in this country to a level where these companies can start saying ‘alright we can shell off some of that NHL budget for Indy Car racing again'”.
Co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Ric Peterson was happy to bring aboard a Canadian to the team, but insists it’s what Hinchcliffe does on the track that sealed the deal.
“It certainly isn’t why we picked him but the fact that he is Canadian is definitely a bonus, and that he’s such a personable guy and stuff like that. We picked him because he can win on all types of tracks. Indy Car has three different types of tracks that we have to race on so you have to be able to win on all of them to win the championship. Of course one of our other main goals is to win the Indianapolis 500. James has started twice on the front row in the last three years so he obviously has that track figured out.”
The 2011 Indy Car rookie of the year will begin his first season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports officially on March 9 as the year will begin with the Brasilia Indy 300.