The more we get to learn about IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe, we find there’s still more about him that we don’t know.
It’s what makes Hinchcliffe so unique and such a fan favorite.
Dan Proudfoot wrote a great piece Monday in Toronto’s The Globe & Mail about Hinchcliffe and fellow Canadian and lifelong hero, the late CART racer Greg Moore.
Moore was killed at the age of 24 in a crash in the 1999 CART season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
While Moore’s death devastated Hinchcliffe and millions of his fellow Canadians, it also gave Hinchcliffe some solace from one of his fondest memories of Moore that occurred just 3 ½ months before the latter’s death.
It was during race weekend at the 1999 Molson Indy in Toronto that the-then 12-year-old Hinchcliffe waited patiently outside Moore’s transporter – three hours, in fact – in hopes his Canadian idol would autograph a steering wheel Hinchcliffe had in-hand.
“He was super kind,” Hinchcliffe said of Moore to Proudfoot. “Now, knowing from experience how stressful that time at the track can be, especially at a Canadian race, I’m all the more impressed that he couldn’t have been nicer, more courteous. I thought at the time, I’d been right to choose him as my hero.”
Incidentally, Hinchcliffe’s father, Jeremy, had secretly purchased the Van Diemen RF91 Formula Ford that Moore won rookie-of-the-year honors in the 1991 Esso Protec F1600 championship.
Somehow, even though his father’s purchase was a secret, James managed to get a hold of the steering wheel from Moore’s 1991 race car.
That signed steering wheel remains one of the Mayor of Hinchtown’s prized possessions. And he and his father both still own Moore’s race car, that is in storage in Bethany, Ontario.
“I just don’t think I’ll ever race Greg’s Formula Ford again,” Hinchcliffe told Proudfoot. “There’s too much sentimental value in it at this point.”
In addition to the Formula Ford, Hinchcliffe has a significant collection of Moore memorabilia that he’s collected over the years, including a driver’s suit, gloves, shoes, trophies and more. Hinchcliffe’s 2012 Indianapolis 500 qualifying run, his first with Andretti Autosport and second overall, saw him carry a pair of Moore’s trademark red gloves with him en route to qualifying second on the grid.
“This car should go to the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame,” Hinchcliffe told Proudfoot.
The CMHF has not built a permanent structure yet, so another option would be to potentially give Moore’s 1991 racer to the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, which houses a permanent display about Moore and his life.
Click here to read Proudfoot’s entire story about Hinchcliffe and his hero, Greg Moore.