IndyCar's Hinchcliffe taking a risk on 'Dancing' stage

August 31, 2016

James Hinchcliffe is one of the most personable—and marketable—drivers in the IndyCar Series. He's been a natural fit for the star-strapped series in every promotional opportunity presented, yet he is far from a household name.

The popular Canadian will now step on the biggest stage yet in an effort to show if he can dance. Hinchcliffe will participate in the upcoming season of "Dancing With the Stars" even though this is not something that is exactly in his wheelhouse.

"If there's something below amateur," Hinchcliffe said of his dancing skills, "it would be that."

Hinchcliffe will be the second IndyCar driver to dance on the ABC hit. Helio Castroneves won the show in 2007, but did not receive enough fan votes to advance deep into a 2015 all-star edition.

On a show that relies on popularity as much as it does dancing skills, moving through the first few weeks could be challenging.

That was no deterrent to Hinchcliffe, who returned for his sixth season in IndyCar this year after a near-fatal accident 15 months ago. Hinchcliffe was practicing for the Indianapolis 500 when his thigh was pierced by a broken piece of car during a wreck. He nearly bled to death as he was hustled into life-saving surgery. Hinchcliffe needed most of last year to recover, and the experience taught him to enjoy the present moment.

"One of those lessons is to take opportunities, not shy away from things, don't be afraid," he said. "You've got to kind of live your life. This is one of those things that might not have ever come around again, and it is outside my comfort zone, so it was certainly not a decision I took lightly, but I think ultimately we made the right choice to be a part of it, and I'm looking forward to getting started."

With two races left in his comeback season, Hinchcliffe is eighth in the IndyCar standings. He nearly won last Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway but was passed on the last lap.

The end of the season gives Hinchcliffe a chance to learn how to dance. He practiced Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis with "DWTS" partner Sharna Burgess, but he's off to upstate New York for this weekend's race at Watkins Glen.

He also has the season finale in Sonoma, California, on Sept. 18. Once the season is over, he will relocate to Los Angeles if he advances on the show.

Hinchcliffe is hoping for a lengthy run, not just for his own brand, but for the potential growth of IndyCar.

"This kind of thing, sure, it benefits me personally, but it also benefits the sport," he said. "I've always said from day one that anything that I can do outside of a race car to help grow the sport of IndyCar racing is something you can sign me up for because I've got such a passion for this sport."


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