Eric Sprott and Sprott Inc. to support Canadian’s debut with Newman/Haas Racing
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville will make his race debut for the famous Newman-Haas Racing team in the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.
Hinchcliffe, the 24-year-old veteran of Formula Atlantic and the Firestone Indy Lights Series — he was runner-up for the Lights championship in 2010 — will make his big-league debut in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the road-racing circuit near Birmingham.
Practice starts Friday with the race scheduled for Sunday (TSN, 3 p.m.).
Hinchclifee is being supported in his rookie season — which will include the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 as well as the Honda Indy races in Toronto and Edmonton in July — by Eric Sprott and leading Canadian asset manager, Sprott Inc.
The Toronto-headquartered Sprott Inc., founded by Oakville-based Eric Sprott, is a leading independent asset manager dedicated to achieving superior returns for its clients. The company currently operates through four business units: Sprott Asset Management L.P., Sprott Private Wealth L.P., Sprott Consulting L.P. and Sprott U.S. Holdings Inc.
“I’m extremely excited to be making my IZOD IndyCar Series debut this weekend,” said Hinchcliffe. “I’m thrilled to have the support of Mr. Sprott and Sprott Inc. behind me, not least as they’re a Canadian company but they also believe in supporting Canada’s top athletes.
“I’d personally like to thank Eric Sprott for his backing and my thanks go to everyone at Newman/Haas Racing as well. We had a great winter program culminating in a strong test at Barber a few weeks ago.
“It’ll be a great moment for me to take the start in an IndyCar race. It’s always been a goal of mine to race in the series. This weekend’s debut is the culmination of a lot of hard work from many people and, in particular, my family since I started karting all those years ago.”
In a release, Eric Sprott said: “We’re obviously a results-driven company, so we share James’ drive and determination to deliver. Personally speaking, I’m very pleased that we are supporting a stand-out Canadian athlete but I also see James as a very sound investment opportunity. He’s been successful at every level of competition and certainly based on his recent test outings, he’s shown he can compete with the best in the IndyCar series.
“We’re look forward to developing our relationship this year and supporting James as he drives for Newman/Haas Racing.”
As just about anybody with an interest in racing knows, Newman/Haas was formed by the late Hollywood actor and racer Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl Haas and is one of the most successful open wheel racing teams competing today.
In 2011, the team will participate in their 29th consecutive season of competition and will attempt to add to the eight championships, 107 race wins and 109 pole positions they have earned to date.
Hinchcliffe tested twice with Newman-Haas and was with the team for the IndyCar series’ pre-season open test at Barber in which he finished top 10 in times. On several occasions during testing, he bested the times of Oriol Servia, the team’s veteran driver who was in a Newman-Haas car at the season opener 10 days ago in St. Petersburg, Fla.
While Servia raced to a ninth-place finish, Hinchcliffe had to watch from the pit wall.
“While I enjoyed being with the team at St. Petersburg, there’s no substitute for being in the car,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being teamed again with Oriol Servia and hopefully we can replicate our form from the final test at Barber (in which Servia finished fifth in times turned and Hinchcliffe was seventh.)
Hinchcliffe finished second in the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season standings after wins in Long Beach, Edmonton and Chicagoland and poles in St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Watkins Glen and Edmonton.
In total he earned eight podium finishes in 13 races.
Hinchcliffe progressed through the ranks of the Rotax karting series (2002), F2000 (2003), Formula BMW (2004), Star Mazda (2005), and Atlantic series (2006-2008) before joining the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2009. He also competed in a season of A1GP competition (2007).
“We are pleased to add James to our team,” said Carl Haas, founder of Newman/Haas Racing.
“He impressed us with how quickly he acclimated himself to the demands of driving an Indy car last December and showed he is more than talented enough to compete at this level since then.
“In our previous 28 seasons, only three rookies have driven for the team and those were Nigel (Mansell, who was the reigning Formula One champion), Sebastien (Bourdais, who was the reigning F3000 champion) and Graham (Rahal), and all made their mark.
“Canada has produced many great drivers and we are looking forward to partnering with Sprott Inc., to help James make his own mark.”
The addition of Hinchcliffe brings to three the number of Canadians driving in the IZOD series in 2011 - Alex Tagliani, who's full-time with FAZZT Racing, Paul Tracy, who's signed for six (the Indy 500 plus five others) and Hinchcliffe.
It's my understanding that the Oakville speedster is confirmed for all the North American racers but the team needs additional support to run him in the Japan and Brazil races.