Tomas Tales: Hinch’s Miracle…Part One.

Hinch headshotMay 23, 2016

I hesitate to write this.

Because I am superstitious.

I don’t walk under ladders. My Irish ancestry will not permit me to put and or see shoes on a table.

And I firmly believe if you talk about a hockey goaltender’s chance of a shutout, or a baseball pitcher’s no-hitter before the game is over, you jinx it.

So I wondered if I should talk about Oakville Ontario’s James Hinchcliffe before the finish of the 100th running of The Indianapolis 500, just in case I put the booga-booga on what would be a storybook/movie script ending to what’s shaping up as one of the greatest come-back stories in sports, not just motorsports.

But I have to salute his pole position for the 2016 edition of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, because that accomplishment alone is one great tale.
I got rather vivid with the morning crew at our TSN 690 Montreal Raceline Radio Network affiliate the morning after Hinch finally grabbed the pole after falling short by one position twice in the past.

I wanted the boys to understand just how close we came to losing James in that awful practice crash at Indianapolis a year ago, and his incredible recovery that culminated with his 4 lap average qualifying speed of 230.760 mph to earn the right to start this years’ classic from the inside of the front row.

Hinch remembers coming out of turn 3 on that fateful lap in May last year.

Then the memory goes blank.

Good thing.

The suspension failed, and he clobbered the wall at 125 G’s, 125 times the normal force of gravity.

A suspension rod pierced the cockpit, passed through one of his legs and into his lower body.

He nearly bled to death in the car. And James’ surgeon told him they almost lost him when his blood pressure crashed on the way to surgery to repair the damage.
His season was over.

But within a week, Hinchcliffe was up walking. A few weeks later he was speaking and joking with the media and starting to work out again to regain muscle strength.

At an off-season test, he not only got back up to speed quickly, he told his team on the radio he wasn’t ever coming in… he didn’t want the realization he was indeed ready to return to active duty, to end.

Hinchcliffe started the 2016 IndyCar season a few steps behind, but he crept closer to the top 10, the top 5, and by the time the IndyCar Series rolled into the Brickyard at 16th and Georgetown Road in Speedway Indiana, he was fast enough to score a podium at The Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course, the perfect set up for the 500 classic on the fabled 2.5 mile “rectangular” oval.

But early practise sessions still didn’t show the velocity he needed to qualify near the front.

But the aero configuration changes, the domed skids on the under-tray that took away some down-force that Hinch didn’t like initially, a badly need power boost from the Honda engine boffins, and some spot-on adjustments from Schmidt-Peterson engineer Allen McDonald set the stage for part one of the miracle come-back from that crash.

James made the Fast-9 and on a track cooled a few degrees my some spotty cloud cover, The Mayor of Hinchtown cracked off 4 quick ones in an almost perfect qualification to register his maiden IndyCar pole for the biggest race in the sport.

Former Andretti team mate and Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was one of the first drivers over to Hinch’s car to congratulate his friend. Ryan said it’s absolutely incredible for anyone to almost lose their life crashing at the same track, then turn around and be brave enough to run flat out through the same corner a year later at 240 mph!

Hunter-Reay didn’t use the word “miracle”, but he could have.

And that’s just part one of Hinch’s miracle at Indianapolis.

I’m too superstitious to tell what part two is.

Check back the morning of the 30th.

Tale Pipes: we welcome back our friends and partners at the Tissot/Swatch Group, who are with us again for their summer campaign with The Raceline Radio Network. A big thank you to double-watch-wearing Rick Ostrom, Adrienne Chan and everyone at Tissot! Swiss Watches since 1853… We were just talking about Hinchcliffe’s pole qualifying speed: 230.760 mph. Stout, but still slow when compared to our NHRA drag racing pilots, who are using their 10 thousand horsepower nitro-methane-belching monster machines to shatter speed records. At Topeka Kansas, Matt Hagan and recent Raceline Radio guest Brittany Force took down national barriers in qualifying. Hagan set new national Funny Car records for time and speed: a 3.862 second Elimination Time at 335.57 mph! Brittany reset the national Top Fuel record with an ET of 3.676 seconds! And the strips are only a thousand feet long now! Mind-bending!

Tomas Tales: CMS Engineering Manager “Drones On” on Raceline Radio!

CMS Aerial Survey  David BrubacherDePodesta headshot BW 2016May 11, 2016

While The Canadian Motor Speedway site plan runs through process with the Town of Fort Erie to return heavy equipment to the site to resume work this summer, tasks such as engineering data gathering moves forward on the CMS time line.

As part of the CMS Traffic Management Plan, the road and street grid around the site between Gilmore and Bowen Roads on the west side of the Queen Elizabeth Highway is being surveyed to map out widening plans and upgrades.

Under the direction of Canadian Motor Speedway Manager of Engineering Services Ken DePodesta, a recently developed high-tech aerial surveying system is being deployed to gather data on the 15 lineal kilometers of road service that will carry customers and fans in and out of the $400 million dollar auto racing and entertainment complex.

Maximum seating capacity for the oval portion of the development, designed my 4-time NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car racing champion Jeff Gordon is 65 thousand, so the road service has to be state of the art in efficiency and coordination.

To gather this crucial data, DePodesta is working with Strata Aerial Surveys that uses a small propeller-driven UAV ( Unmanned Aerial Vessel ) or drone aircraft to take a series of photographs that along with conventional ground survey operations, will be compiled into highly detailed documents and plans that will be used to finalize road system development.

This Sunday night and all next week, DePodesta will add further details on the UAV/Strata Aerial Survey system being used for CMS survey work in a full-length interview, coast-to-coast on The Raceline Radio Network, the exclusive national radio voice of Canadian Motor Speedway, anchored by Erik Tomas.

Networked to 16 major and medium radio markets, Raceline Radio can be heard on the following affiliates, most featuring live audio streaming, podcasting and Iphone access. Some use The “Audio Vault” show retrieval system:

Sportsnet 590 The FAN Toronto: Sun. 12 Midnight and Sat. 7 AM. The FAN / Raceline is also available on Bell Express-Vu Sat. channel 959, and podcasted on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. Raceline Podcasts:
Listen LIVE:

Tune In Radio:

TSN 690 Montreal: Sunday 11 PM Eastern

TSN 1040 Vancouver: Sunday 12 Midnight Pacific and podcasted

TSN 1410 Vancouver Saturday 4 AM Pacific and podcasted

Sportsnet 960 The FAN Calgary: Sunday 11:06 PM Mountain

TSN 1260 Edmonton: Wednesday 8 PM and Saturday 9:00 AM Mountain

TSN 1290 Winnipeg: Friday 10 PM Central

News 95.7 Halifax: Monday 8:00 PM Atlantic

TSN 1200 Ottawa: Monday 7:06 PM Eastern

AM 800 CKLW Windsor: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern

AM 900 CHML Hamilton: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern and on Audio Vault

NEWS-TALK 610 CKTB St.Catharines-Niagara: Sunday 9:06 PM and Saturday 4:06 PM Eastern

NEWS TALK 1290 CJBK London: Monday 7:06 PM Eastern

AM 1070 CHOK Sarnia: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern
103.9 FM CHOK Sarnia: Sunday 8:06 PM Eastern

Photos: CMS Manager, Engineering Services Ken DePodesta and Strata Aerial Survey’s David Brubacher holding the UAV Aerial Survey drone aircraft.