More Exposure For The Verizon IndyCar Series

We learned last week that there will be another IndyCar driver dancing his way to mainstream celebrity status. In 2007, Helio Castroneves became an overnight sensation to a group of non-racing fans that had previously never heard of him, when he won Dancing With The Stars (DWTS). I know for a fact that Helio’s appearance brought in new fans, because I’ve heard from them through this site. They rarely, if ever, comment here; but I’ve gotten emails from them saying they never followed this sport until they watched Helio in 2007.

Now, non-IndyCar fans get to meet another engaging personality when driver James Hinchcliffe takes to the dance floor beginning Sep 12 on ABC. You will notice that is almost an entire week before the season finale at Sonoma. The hope here is that Hinch will make enough of a great first impression, that some will be intrigued enough to tune in and catch the final race.

While James Hinchcliffe does not have the same bigger-than-life personality that Helio Castroneves has – he has, what I consider, a much more engaging wit. If you have ever watched an interview with Hinchcliffe, you know what kind of a sense of humor he has. Audiences got a glimpse of it when they watched the Celebrity Family Feud at the end of July. That type of humor will play well for the DWTS crowd.

I will not claim to be a dance aficionado. In fact, Susan will tell you how much I despise dancing – which these days, usually only takes place at weddings. It takes quite a few beers and being surrounded by a lot of friends who are equally bad dancers to get me out on a dance floor. When I do finally dance with her, she wishes I hadn’t. It is then that she remembers that my idea of dancing is rocking back and forth with a beer in my hand, and the dreaded white-man overbite on my face. If you don’t know what that is, go watch When Harry Met Sally.

Anyway, I know and care even less about ballroom dancing than wedding reception dancing. Not only am I not a fan of dancing, the only time I’ve ever watched DWTS was in 2007, when Helio was on the show. I figured I would watch it and vote for him until he was booted off. I ended up watching every episode that season, because Helio went all the way and won. Watching his dance partner, Julianne Hough, was not too hard on the eyes so the whole ordeal was OK. But I’ll admit – I haven’t seen a single episode of Dancing With The Stars since Helio won the final show in the bright yellow suit.

It’s hard to believe it has been nine years since then, but I’ll be watching it again starting next week when Hinchcliffe makes his dancing debut. From what I’m told, Hinchcliffe is not a dancer. I don’t know if Helio was before he did the show, but Hinch doesn’t seem quite as fluid. But is this show really about dancing or is it more of a popularity contest? Maybe it’s a combination of both.

There is one theory that says athletes tend to do well on this show. Is that simply because they are athletes, or is it because the millions of guys that are forced to watch this show by their wives and girlfriends tend to vote for the athletes because they are the only ones they can recognize? As I recall, some of the “stars” on the show during Helio’s run were Wayne Newton (has-been), Marie Osmond (has-been) and Jane Seymour (has-been). These weren’t exactly A-listers nine years ago, they are even less significant today. Helio, Floyd Mayweather and Mark Cuban were the only ones from the sports world that guys would tend to vote for. Of those three, Helio was the only one that would also appeal to women. Winner – Helio!

This time around, it’ll be up to James Hinchcliffe to woo the viewers. Aside from the other competitors (most of whom I’ve never heard of, because I live under a rock when it comes to pop-culture) – from the sports world, The Mayor of Hinchtown will be going up against Calvin Johnson from the Detroit Lions and Olympians Laurie Hernandez and Ryan Lochte (assuming he is not a victim of any more fake robberies between now and then).

Oh, and for my fellow baby-boomers – the cast will also consist of Marilu Henner and Maureen McCormick, better known as Marcia Brady.

I’m thinking that the story of James Hinchcliffe almost losing his life in May 2015 will captivate viewers, while his humor will engage them. Given the lineup, I’m thinking Hinchcliffe already has the inside track (no pun intended). So join me in watching the show each Monday and Tuesday night this fall, and vote for Hinch as many times as possible. Each week will be a win-win. The deeper Hinchcliffe goes into the competition, the more exposure for the Verizon IndyCar Series. But if Hinchcliffe happens to be eliminated before the finals – the quicker I can get back to watching Monday Night Football. I can’t lose.

George Phillips

7 Responses to “More Exposure For The Verizon IndyCar Series”

  1. When I was in high school my parents offered to pay for dance lessons and music lessons. With no small measure of disdain I declined getting involved with that “sissy stuff”. There have been many times over the years since that I have regretted not taking them up on their offer. Most women love to dance. So, at so many weddings, including my daughter’s, and other events it was pretty much “women dance, men drink.” Still, my dancing skill level is many times better than that of Donald Trump rockin’ out at that Detroit church recently. Pathetic.

    • Being a performing musician all of my life I always told folks “I make the music, I don’t dance to it,” and while I give major props to any male who finds the courage to get up in front of other people and attempt to dance I must admit that the moves I’ve seen from my vantage point onstage has given me decades of entertainment that I get paid to watch! And it never gets old!

      Sometimes I remember an old Steve Martin line: “I get paid for doing this!”

  2. Brian McKay Says:

    Thanks for blogging.

  3. Although I voted that I would never watch the show, I probably would if AJ was in it…..

  4. billytheskink Says:

    I remember when the only time you could watch ballroom dancing on television was some annual show that Barbara Eden hosted on PBS. I don’t remember why my family watched it and I don’t remember looking forward to it.

    I’ll bet Hinch would be a shoo-in on the now-cancelled Skating With The Stars. I base this opinion entirely off of the Canadian stereotype…

  5. I never watch DWTS, but I have to confess, if A. J. Foyt was on, I might make an exception, just to see him bitch slap a judge.

  6. I have never watched DWTS and am making this exception because of James. On Saturday at the Glen, he was really funny in the paddock about being a contestant, even after being very peeved with qualifying. My friend was lucky to catch a Vote for Hinch t-shirt.

    Having Hinch on DWTS and Josef, TK, and Helio on American Ninja Warrior may bring the series new interest from folks who may not have ever heard of IndyCar. What fun!!

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