IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe being toasted for fast-selling beer

2 Comments

For most Canadians, their homebrewed beer choice is typically Labatts or Molson.

But countryman and IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe is starting to get some traction with his own beer brand, Hinchtown Hammer Down (HHD).

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, HHD sales have gone through the roof, increasing 211 percent in 2013 and 249 percent this year. Sales are expected to increase another 230 percent for 2015.

“To realize sales increases like this is really difficult,” Sean O’Conner, Hinchcliffe’s business partner, told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “I think it shows we have something pretty special.”

Meeting in 2012 through a mutual friend, Hinchcliffe and O’Conner, who had opened a company known as Flat 12 Bierworks in Indianapolis a year earlier, became fast friends.

It was a seemingly perfect partnership, according to the IBJ: Hinchcliffe, a native of Toronto, loves beer and O’Connor of Indianapolis loves auto racing. After tipping back a few, the pair decided to pool their resources.

“The whole thing happened pretty quickly,” Hinchcliffe told IBJ. “It almost happened on a laugh.”

The brew started out being sold on tap in Indianapolis-area restaurants and bars, and earlier this year began being sold in cans and bottles at stores and other retail establishments.

But this is not just a micro-brewery that plans to be a controlled distribution brand. It recently expanded to Tennessee and plans are in the works to grow to neighboring Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky – and Hinchcliffe’s homeland.

Former Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief of staff and IndyCar Series senior vice president Ken Ungar praises Hinchcliffe’s business acumen.

“James is one of the best personalities in motorsports today, and not just in IndyCar,” Ungar, founder of US Sports Advisors, told the IBJ. “He’s very open and welcoming, he’s got a great sense of humor, and he’s authentic.

“Not only that, he’s very business-savvy when it comes to his brand. His website is excellent and he’s very good with social media.

“Even casual racing fans tend to support the sponsors and products of the drivers they follow. I have no doubt that its association with Hinchcliffe will raise sales for Flat 12, especially in this market and where he’s from in Canada.”

To make HHD more “authentic,” it’s even made with imported Canadian ingredients, particularly hops.

Not surprisingly, Hinchtown Hammer Down has a cartoon caricature of Hinchcliffe – who has the colorful nickname of the “Mayor of Hinchtown” – and an Indy car on the label.

“We came up with something that’s clean, light and easy drinking,” Hinchcliffe said. “That’s one of the reasons I think it’s popular. It has a broad appeal. You can drink a couple of them and not feel like you’ve eaten a three-turkey meal.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
0 Comments

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.