|Hinch fans should be all smiles today.|
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
The GoDaddy seat is significant for many reasons; of course, there’s the high-profile sponsorship that comes with it, and the promise of national marketing opportunities. For Hinchcliffe, that should be second nature. The deeper significance is that this seat was Danica Patrick’s, who, even as she was winding down her time in the Series, remained its most identifiable driver. The seat was to then pass to Dan Wheldon, who IndyCar fans new as not only a champion in the sport, but as easily one of the most charismatic, approachable, and inspiring drivers in open wheel racing. Neither are easy legacoes to try and fill for anyone, and it would be unfair to expect Hinch to be the type of cultural phenomenon that Patrick turned out to be. Similiarly, Dan Wheldon was one of a kind, as fans and drivers alike know and feel all too well.
No, James Hinchcliffe will be himself—talented on the track, seemingly made-for-TV off of it. That means IndyCar will have a young, talented, personable, frequently hilarious driver in one of its most high-profile seats. That’s a win for fans, a win for the Series, and a win for Andretti Autosport.
In a world where communication continues to become more frequent, instant, and diverse, racers that can also utilize social media and alternate forms of communication to enhance fan outreach become a more and more vital asset for any Series. It’s why I hope that media-savvy, accessible drivers such as Pippa Mann, Thomas Scheckter, and Martin Plowman can also find their way into a secure spot in the Series, and it’s why I think having a smiling, wisecracking James Hinchcliffe in the public eye is great news for all us who care about the IZOD IndyCar Series.