Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe, who finished second in this season’s Firestone Indy Lights Series, was awarded the Greg Moore Legacy Award at the IZOD IndyCar Series’ post-season banquet in Miami on Sunday night.
The award, which is in its 11th year and is one of the few things IndyCar has carried over from the days of the Champ Car World Series and CART, is given to the driver who best typifies the combination of Moore’s on-track talent and dynamic personality.
Moore, of Maple Ridge, B.C., was killed in California during a race in 1999.
Hinchcliffe, who won races this season in Long Beach, Edmonton and Chicago and finished on the podium five other times, finished second in the Lights standings to France’s J.K. Vernay.
Hinchcliffe said he was humbled to have been presented the Moore award.
“It’s tough to put into words what that award means to me,” he told an interviewer. “Greg Moore was my hero growing up, and still is today. He was such a good race car driver, but on top of that he was just an incredible person.
“To have my name attached to an award that bears his is something that’s very special. And on top of that, the list of drivers that have received this award previously is also very special. It’s certainly something I’m very proud of.”
Reflecting on his season, Hinchliffe selected the Edmonton race as a highlight.
“Edmonton had to be the best race of the year for me, maybe even of my life. It was a super difficult weekend, to be honest. It took everything I had on that qualifying lap to get the pole and it was only just enough, the gap being something like one hundredth of a second.
“And then in the race, J.K. (Vernay) was right on my gearbox every single lap. There was no room for error and it’s the fastest, toughest track we race on. The two of us were basically running qualifying laps the whole race. To come out of that fight on top, and especially being on home soil, was definitely the highlight for me!”
The Oakville racer, who has now spent two years in Indy Lights after running in the Formula Atlantic Series before that, said he is optimistic about moving up to the Indy car circuit in 2011.
“Well I certainly think that my on-track performances have shown that I’m ready to make that step,” he said. “I want to make that step. . . But, let’s be frank here: the budget is still the No. 1 factor.
“We started working hard months ago and I still have a lot of faith in the approach we’re taking. I would say I’m optimistic and that we’re working harder than ever to make it happen. I want nothing more than to be an IZOD IndyCar driver in 2011.”