The racing business is not always "rainbows and cinnamon buns" for aspiring kids coming up through the ranks, so IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe decided to do something about it.
Always one to give back by helping youngsters climbing the ladder, the newly signed Schmidt Peterson Motorsport driver made it official earlier this year when he co-founded Speed Group, a company designed to help budding racers find their feet in a dog-eat-dog sport.
"I have a lot of interest in trying to nurture talent and help them avoid some of the mistakes that I made in my career and the holes you that you can get into in racing when you are new to the business side of it," said Hinchcliffe, of Oakville, Ont.
"It's a passion first and what's so funny is that I tried to give advice away and guys would do the exact opposite of what I said, and now I charge them for it and they listen to every word I have to say. I guess it's a get what you pay for thing."
The company offers everything from simple press and social media packages to branding help and website development all the way to management. Its extensive driver training program offers both on track driving and simulator time that gives clients access to cars and racetracks as well as top coaches around North America.
His partners are David Martínez, Hinchcliffe's teammate eight ears ago at Forsythe Racing in ladder series Champ Car Atlantic, and former Forsythe public relations director, Toni Calderon.
The company had a small stable of drivers racing in series in North America and Europe for its first year, but the IndyCar star hopes to have a couple more under his wing before next season gets underway.
Hinchcliffe's vision is to keep the company going as he continues his IndyCar career and then dive into it more fully when he retires or he's "told to hang up his helmet through lack of options."
"I see too many people through the history of this sport who took, took, took, and gave nothing back and I always promised myself I wouldn't be that guy," he said.
"I don't want to use the word legacy because it makes it sound like I think higher of myself than I do, but this is part of what I want to give back to the sport."
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