How's this for a switch?
The really interesting thing about James Hinchcliffe’s signing to drive the Go Daddy-sponsored car for Michael Andretti in 2012 is that for the first time in his life, he’s going to be paid to drive a racing car.
Up till now, whether it was in karts or Star Mazda or Champ Car Atlantics or Indy Lights, Hinchcliffe either had to use family money to pay for his drive or arrange for the sponsorship in order to race.
There might have been some money coming back, but he had to go out and find it first.
Now, they’re going to pay him.
And by becoming a paid open wheel driver, he’s now a member of a very select group because in all of Formula One and its support series, and all of IndyCar and its Road to Indy ladder system, there are maybe – maybe – 30 drivers who don’t have to "bring money."
That is a real feather in his cap.
The No. 27 car has figured prominently in Canadian motorsport. Billy Foster, the first Canadian of the modern era to make the field at Indianapolis, drove car No. 27. And Gilles Villeneuve drove car No. 27 for Ferrari. Hinchcliffe's car at Andretti will be - you guessed it - No. 27.
The Super Bowl is coming up and Go Daddy is famous for its edgy commercials. Maybe "Go Daddy Guy" Hinchcliffe and "Go Daddy Girl" Danica Patrick will appear together in one of them this year.
It’s interesting how the story broke on Tuesday. There was no press conference or formal announcement; the news was leaked to a U.S. national newspaper. Did Go Daddy have an ulterior motive for doing it like that? And if so, what was it? And why?
James Hinchcliffe’s signing officially became a big sports story in Toronto on Wednesday when the story made it onto sports talk radio in T.O. Wednesday morning, he appeared on the Jeff Blair show on The Fan radio station. Blair seems to have an appreciation for auto racing, which is rare among Toronto-area radio and TV personalities (Vic Rauter being the other exception).
In a wheels.ca blog item from the Detroit auto show, I said it was a shame there weren’t more examples of the industry’s involvement in auto racing. I then listed a Red Bull F1 car, a Chip Ganassi Indy car and Patrick Dempsey’s Grand Am Mazda as the only examples on the showroom floor. Well, I missed Kyle Busch’s Sprint Cup car, which was part of the Toyota display. Sorry.