INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- "Wow, this is the biggest scrum I've seen since I didn't make the Indy 500,” James Hinchcliffe said with a laugh ahead of a blood drive being held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while his peers were on the track for practice.
Despite being bumped from the Indianapolis 500 field, Hinchcliffe was all smiles seeing the turnout for his Hinchcliffe Hundred blood drive at the Speedway.
"It's so easy in our little bubble of a world in motorsports to think that you're having a bad day, but if anything what happened to me in 2015 makes things like last weekend and other things like that a lot easier to deal with,” the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver said of the initiative.
After his crash in practice ahead of the 2015 Indy 500, Hinch received 22 units of blood, that's twice what the normal body holds. And seeing how impactful donations were then, IndyCar fans have been inspired to do their part for the cause.
"Hearing how much blood it took to save him, it's the least i can do,” loyal fan and routine blood donor Linda Hendricks said, with her husband donating alongside her.
"We're here from out of town, we are from St. Louis, we're driving back today and coming back next weekend but with James sponsoring this and what happened a couple years ago everything seemed right to be here today to donate,” Damon Hendricks explained while seated next to his wife.
While fans like Linda and Damon say they are regular blood donors, many fans are donating for the first time here at the speedway to show support for Hinch.
“I gave him a couple hugs because I am still kind of upset about his qualifying,” Maggie Warren said. “It just shows all the class he has, he's just one of the best, nicest drivers I have ever met."
Hinchcliffe has partnered with IU Health and the American Red Cross for this blood drive at the Speedway, and will hold similar efforts throughout the season at other race tracks to get not only the Indianapolis community involved, but race fans across the country as well.
"I came up with a five-year plan to have a mobile unit on the road to every IndyCar race,” Hinchcliffe explained. “We go to all these race tracks and have 50 to 200 thousand people come through the gates. If we get 100 units of blood out of that, that's incredible."
After this drive at the speedway, more are set already this season at Iowa Speedway and Sonoma Raceway.