One of the perks of being a lifelong resident of Indianapolis is that you usually have a pretty good ear to the ground when it comes to the goings-on down at the racetrack – I have at least 5 friends whose jobs are directly related to racing, and anything even remotely interesting that happens at the track usually makes it to the local news (even a dog getting loose on the track and delaying practice for 15 minutes…true story).
Occasionally, this connection pays off – as it did a couple weeks ago, when a friend who works very closely with the racing industry (I won’t give any more detail than that, lest I inadvertently get this friend in trouble) mentioned to me in passing that DWTS had been shopping around to cast another racing driver for season 23. Said friend mentioned that they were looking at Indycar, and the name that he/she kept hearing was James Hinchcliffe’s. Given that Hinch was spotted in the audience this past season (see below), I don’t think it’s entirely unbelievable that the show might be angling to cast him. Interestingly, James also favorited/responded to some interesting tweets asking if he would do the show – including one of mine:
For those who aren’t familiar with Indycar or are asking “So why would DWTS cast him?”, let me give you a crash course (no pun intended…ok, maybe a little) in Hinch: he’s Canadian, he’s basically the face of Indycar right now, he has a podcast, he has his own beer, he was on Family Feud recently, and the dude’s hilarious. Charisma for DAYS. Oh, he also almost died in a crash last year and has made a recovery that is nothing short of miraculous. And with Indycar experiencing a resurgence in popularity in the past year, while NASCAR continues to decline in viewership, and the with the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 making the news? He’s got relevance. So to recap: big personality? Check. Relevance? Check. Amazing backstory? Check. Even if this is the extent of his dance ability heading into the show, who the hell even cares? I’d probably laugh my ass off just listening to him read the phone book. 😛
Schedule-wise, it might be a bit of a challenge at first – the Indycar season doesn’t end until September 18 (in Sears Point, California…not too much of a trek from L.A.), so his partner might have to do some traveling with him prior to the start of the season and for the first week of the season; interestingly enough, the penultimate race of the Indycar season is on September 4 in Watkins Glen, New York…last year’s fall cast announcement was on September 2 on GMA, in NYC. See what I’m getting at here? 😉 For what it’s worth, the 2007 Indycar season didn’t end until September 9, and the season 5 cast announcement was on August 29…so Helio was in a similar position and had to rehearse with Julianne concurrently with the Indycar season. Ditto for the All-Star season – cast was announced on July 27, Indycar season didn’t end until September 15, season 15 premiered on September 24. So a bit of overlap between the seasons doesn’t necessarily negate the possibility of him doing the show. It’s also worth mentioning that Michael Waltrip had quite a bit of overlap with the NASCAR season when he did season 19.
If, for whatever reason, they opt not to cast Hinch (or he declines), there’s still some other casting possibilities within Indycar – you might remember that Tony Kanaan was a rumor a few years back, and nothing really came of it; he’s still very much an Indycar fan favorite, and recently appeared on both American Ninja Warrior and Family Feud. Also noteworthy? Alexander Rossi, the winner of the 100th running of the Indy 500 and the first rookie to win the Indy 500 since Helio won it back in 2001 – I could see the show running with that buzzworthy fact. Granted, I personally just don’t find either to be as interesting a casting as Hinch (though TK comes close), but they’re options nonetheless.
So what do you guys think? Do you think Hinch or another Indycar driver would be a good get for this season? Who would you like to see him paired with, if he is cast?