(via Forbes.com) – In Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview series with IndyCar racer James Hinchcliffe, we discussed his disappointment at not making this year’s Indianapolis 500 starting field, Dancing With The Stars, what’s it like to work for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, his Hinchtown Hammer Down Ale, and more. Here, Hinchcliffe takes us through how he deals with fear and why fellow racer Scott Dixon is the one he feels most comfortable with in close racing.
Jim Clash: How do you deal with fear?
James Hinchcliffe: Ignorance is bliss, I think, is the best way to describe it. As drivers, we all know there are risks involved, and we accept those. But, at some point, the logical person will look at what we do and say, ‘You’re out of your minds. You shouldn’t be doing this, get out of the car.’ So we have to go into an illogical state to accept it. In my mind to a certain extent, I have the “it-can’t-happen-to-me” attitude. That almost has to exist a little bit inside you. Now that’s not to say you put yourself into a position where you risk other people’s safety. What we do is very dangerous and there are very, very high risks involved. But if you become too concerned about that, you actually become more of a liability on the racetrack. It’s common practice to say when you really fear what you’re doing, it’s time to hang up the helmet.
Clash: Do you race any differently since your near-fatal accident at Indy in 2015?
Hinchcliffe: I don’t, no. A large part of the reason why is that it was a mechanical failure that caused the accident. If I had made a decision that resulted in that outcome, maybe something would have changed in my driving. I don’t know. But nothing has changed in my head. I attribute that to the fact that it was due to something 100% out of my control. So why should I change anything about what I do behind the wheel?
Clash: Who among the current Verizon IndyCar racers do you feel most comfortable racing against in close quarters?
Hinchcliffe: Scott Dixon. He’s been around for an awfully long time. He has a ton of experience on ovals, which is huge. But Scott has this very rare combination of natural ability and a very intelligent mind. So he knows exactly how hard to push his car. He knows exactly what the limits of his equipment are. He has a very good sense of the guy he’s racing. When it comes to close-quarters racing on an oval at these speeds, and it’s as risky a situation as you can get, there’s no other guy you’d rather do it beside than Scott.