Injured Canadian race-car driver, James Hinchcliffe, will be the Grand Marshall for the Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar race this Sunday, June 14. Hinchcliffe was recently medically cleared to travel to Toronto.
Hinchcliffe, who was seriously injured in a crash while practicing for the Indianapolis 500, has received special medical clearance to travel from Indianapolis to what he considers his hometown race. Hinchcliffe, affectionately known as "the mayor of Hinchtown," is a native of Oakville, Ontario, near by Toronto.
According to the race's organizers, he will perform the standard Grand Marshal duties that include giving the famous “drivers, start your engines” command to start the race on Sunday afternoon.
“We are very excited to have James as Grand Marshal,” said Charlie Johnstone, President of the Honda Indy Toronto. “Although he is unable to race, it is important to us, and to him, that he is involved in the race in some capacity, being as this is his home town event.”
This will be the first time Hinchcliffe will not be racing in Toronto since he joined the series in 2011.
"I’m looking forward to being back home in Canada and attending the Honda Indy Toronto with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this weekend," he said. "It will be a strange feeling for me not lining up on the grid this year, but being the Grand Marshal is a role I’m honoured to fulfil and I’m excited that I’ll play a role in the proceedings on Sunday."
His car, the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry, will be driven in the Toronto race by American rookie Conor Daly, who put in a strong performance in the car at the two recent Detroit races.
Daly has visited Hinchcliffe at his Indianapolis home to get some pointers on the tough Toronto circuit.
Hinchcliffe who won an IndyCar race in Louisiana earlier this year, crashed when a component in the right front suspension of his car failed, slamming it into the outside wall of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at about 224 mph (360 km/h).
A piece of the broken suspension pierced the car's carbon fibre tub and Hinch's left pelvis and thigh, damaging bone, soft tissue, blood vessels and arteries, resulting in significant blood loss.
His injuries were immediately life-threatening but rapid response by IndyCar's Holmatro safety team and surgeons at nearby Methodist Hospital saved his life.
He is scheduled to undergo further surgery in four to six weeks, with a similar recovery period after that so it's unlikely he'll get back in his car this year. But he is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries and is highly anticipating his return to racing.