A chance meeting with a former member of the late Greg Moore's pit crew continues to inspire James Hinchcliffe in his pursuit of the IndyCar championship.
The Andretti Autosport driver was approached by the mechanic during pole week for the Indianapolis 500. He requested that Hinchcliffe, the current embodiment of Moore's spirit as a promising young Canadian, wear Moore's gloves inside his firesuit since he had never got the chance to compete at the legendary 2.5-mile oval.
Hinchcliffe humbly accepted and carried the gloves with him during qualifying, delivering the first of many heartwarming stories to come out of the Speedway last May.
Nearly two months later and it seems that the spirit of Moore has remained with his fellow countryman. Hinchcliffe leads the IndyCar Series in wins and is just 66 points out of the championship lead.
Hinchcliffe says he only met Moore once before he passed away in 1999, from injuries sustained in the CART finale at Auto Club Speedway, but the impression that the popular Canadian left on him has lasted a lifetime.
"I think that that speaks to the sort of the person that he was," Hinchcliffe said during the weekly IndyCar teleconference on Tuesday. "I cheered for him growing up, ahead of everybody else and just really respected and idolized him.
"It's funny how touched I was by the whole situation when he was killed, even though he was just a guy I had met for only ten minutes. He's always sort of remained close in my mind."
So close that Hinchcliffe has modeled his helmet and glove designs after Moore's as well. The young Canadian added that he often wonders just how good Moore would have been at Indianapolis given his prolific oval reputation while in CART.
Four of Moore's five career wins came on oval tracks.
"He never got a chance to race (at Indianapolis), and for a guy who was as good on ovals as he was, that's really too bad," Hinchcliffe said. "And the fact that he was stepping into that Penske car, which I think won the next three Indy 500s, it's tough to think about even now, because there's no doubt that we had not seen the best of Greg.
"I think he would have been a champion and probably a 500 winner several times over."
Now that is a task that appears to be up to Hinchcliffe to fulfill.