Fresh out of surgery following his May 18 crash in Indianapolis 500 practice, James Hinchcliffe had only one way to communicate.
The 28-year-old Canadian, on a ventilator in his hospital bed at IU Health Methodist Hospital, took to pen and paper.
While he relayed to his team his recollections of his crash in Turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver also had one pressing question he scribbled down.
“When can I drive again?”
In a teleconference with media on Wednesday, Hinchcliffe said the possibility of retiring from racing following the crash – which left him with a pelvic injury and a pierced upper-left thigh – never crossed his mind.
“I certainly never contemplated it,” Hinchcliffe said. “If anyone around me was thinking about it, they were smart enough not to say anything. I think everybody close to me knows that wouldn’t be something that was on my mind.”
Instead of retiring after five years and eight wins, Hinchcliffe will likely be sidelined for the rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ 2015 season as he recovers.
He has one more surgery in the next 4-6 weeks and hopes to be able to get back in the gym another 4-6 weeks after that, working to regain the 12 pounds of muscle mass he’s lost in the four weeks since the crash.
“I have to be opened from the abdomen to undo some things that were done during the emergency surgery, just to keep me healthy and safe,” Hinchcliffe said. “Unfortunately it’s the kind of surgery that is of the nature that will put me down again for another couple weeks. Anytime you go into the abdomen, there’s a lengthy recovery. That’s kind of the difficult part to swallow.”
In the meantime, he will be replaced Conor Daly in his No. 5 Honda this weekend in the Honda Indy Toronto, Hinchcliffe’s home race, and will likely be replaced by Ryan Briscoe in the remaining six races.
“I think some people in the room found it so bizarre and confusing that somebody in the state I was in, hooked up to 10 different machines, recently sewn up would say, ‘How can I get back into the machine that did this to me?'” Hinchcliffe continued. “I think that’s how racing drivers are wired.
“(Retirement’s) definitely not a thought that went through my mind. Anybody that knows me well enough knows better than to bring that up to me.”
Hinchcliffe, who won the season’s second race at NOLA Motorsports Park, doesn’t have any fears about second-guessing his decision once he returns to the cockpit, something that may happen in off-season testing which Hinchcliffe believes will start in September.
“The only thing I worry about is making sure I’m at the fitness level I need to be at when I get the chance and the approval and clearance to get back in,” Hinchcliffe said.