James Hinchcliffe Shares How Dancing With The Stars Prepared Him For Broadcasting
James Douglas Meredith Hinchcliffe is a Canadian race car driver and commentator best known for competing in the IndyCar Series. Hinchcliffe won six races for Andretti Autosport and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, having started his career with a kart which he received on his 9th birthday. When he was old enough, he joined A1 Team Canada in A1 Grand Prix and finished eighth in the sprint race and 13th in his first race at Zandvoort.
For the 2009 season, he competed in Indy Lights for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in their No. 7 car. Hinchcliffe finished fourth in points without a win or pole position. In the 2010 season, he signed on with the less historically-successful Team Moore Racing in their No. 2 entry. Hinchcliffe captured three wins and five more podium finishes on his way to second in the championship behind French rookie Jean-Karl Vernay, who was driving the Schmidt No. 7 car. He also served as the driver analyst for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 as regular driver analyst Davey Hamilton was competing in the race.
In April 2011, Hinchcliffe signed with Newman/Haas Racing to compete in the remainder of the 2011 IndyCar Series, excluding the Twin Ring Motegi race, after missing the first race of the season at St. Petersburg. In 2015, his first year driving for Schmidt Peterson, he suffered life-threatening blood loss after he was impaled in a crash when his suspension failed while practicing for the Indianapolis 500. After two years, he rejoined the team and won his first race at the Long Beach Grand Prix. in 2020 he returned to Andretti Autosport and a year later, announced his decision to retire from full-time racing.
The decision to switch to broadcasting
As his time behind the wheel came to an end, the transition to sports commentary undeniably came with a different set of challenges. Despite a significant shift, the 35-year-old racer shared that the transition wasn’t that difficult because of his secret weapon: the time he spent performing on “Dancing with the Stars.”
The Canadain-born racer made his appearance on the 23rd season of “Dancing with the Stars” alongside his partner Sharna Burgees. During the competition, the couple rapidly improved as a dancing duo and ended up coming in second place, and Hinchcliffe cites this experience on live TV as being helpful with regard to his job as a broadcaster.
During an interview with The People, Hinchcliffe expressed just how dramatic the transition from driving to TV was. The race car driver went on to admit that his pre-show ritual consisted of one (or a couple!) shots of Tequila but he assured the audience that he will be putting that tradition to rest for his new line of work.
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