Canadian IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe, who captured the season opener in St. Petersburg, isn’t shy about who his racing hero was and is: Greg Moore. The talented Canadian would have been 38 on Monday.
“Hinch” paid tribute to Moore a year ago during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, when he put a pair of Moore’s used trademark red racing gloves inside his firesuit for his run (right). He ended the emotional day second on the grid, and said that run was for Moore, who never had a chance to race in that event.
Moore’s four-year career in the CART ranks from 1996 to 1999 featured five wins, and at the time of his first win in Milwaukee, 1997, he was the youngest race winner in series history at age 22.
Beyond his efforts on track, Moore was regarded as one of CART’s brightest off-track talents, a popular figure to the community at large. A handful of drivers on the current grid – Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves among them – raced against Moore during that period. Oriol Servia and Scott Dixon raced in Indy Lights in that 1999 season, a championship Moore dominated in 1995 before advancing into CART.
He lost his life in an accident at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway the last race of the 1999 season, in what would have been his final start before switching to Team Penske. Castroneves inherited the seat, which he has held to this day.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.