IndyCar stars confirmed for Bathurst 1000. But, who are they?
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
For decades, the Bathurst 1000 has been known for luring in some of the world's most talented race drivers from overseas. From Jacky Ickx' role in Allan Moffat's stunning 1977 victory, to the surprise gun combo of Mattias Ekstrom and Andy Priaulx in 2013.
And in 2019, an all-international 'wildcard' entry will again be on the grid, with this morning's confirmation that Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe will race at the event in a Holden ZB Commodore prepared by Walkinshaw Andretti United.
While both are big names in America's motorsport realm, they're not yet household names in Australasia (known best, perhaps, as 'two of the jokers that Scott Dixon beats all the time'). So, who are they?
The first thing to know is that the pairing are mates. Along with being on-track rivals, they host an online podcast together; Off Track with Hinch and Rossi.
And, it makes sense that they're mates. Their respective careers in racing each come with one big set-back.
Rossi burst onto the international motorsport scene through a rapid rise up the European open-wheel ladder. Those results (which included wins in GP2) came after the Nevada-born Rossi bet his future on Formula 1 by moving his life to Europe as a teenager.
But, unlike most of the promising youngsters that try to make it work, Rossi actually succeeded. He made it to Formula 1 in 2012 as a test driver with Caterham, before moving to Manor Marussia in 2014 and eventually debuting at Singapore in 2015.
But, simply making it into F1 was only part of the story. Rossi also had to deal with an enormous amount of additional pressure because of his background.
He was an American in F1; something that the sport had not seen since the underachieving Scott Speed. Americans used to be rather prolific in F1, from Mario Andretti to Phil Hill and Dan Gurney. Rossi looked to have the talent to America's next great shot, but his time in F1 was short-lived.
Marussia were on their last legs when Rossi joined. Despite some great results (including the team's best, a 12th at his home Grand Prix in 2015), Rossi wasn't given a full-time seat for the forthcoming season and instead returned to the US. He was offered a full-time seat with the team (now called 'Manor Racing') part-way through 2016, but declined to focus on IndyCar. A promising talent, slipped through the cracks.
For Hinchcliffe, his career set-back was far less drawn out.
The Canadian climbed the American open-wheel ladder in rapid fashion; two seasons in Indy Lights being all it took to earn a seat in IndyCar with Newman-Haas Racing in 2011.
A year later and he had joined Andretti Autosport, and by 2013 he was both a race winner and one of the most popular drivers in the paddock. 'The Mayor of Hinchtown', as the saying went. The David Reynolds of IndyCar.
A flat 2014 followed, and then the crash came in 2015.
Hincliffe slammed the wall during practice for the iconic Indy 500 with the most force ever recorded in an IndyCar crash; 126 G (humans, supposedly, are only meant to be able to withstand approximately 50 G).
Hinchcliffe came as close to death as anyone dare, namely thanks to a piece of his Honda's front-right suspension pierced through his legs. It took out his femoral artery in the process, with incredible blood-loss among the long list of immediate problems.
'Hinch' sat out the rest of the season to recover, rejoining the series against the odds the next year.
Naturally there were doubts over his ability and fitness, but an emotional, memorable pole position at the Indy 500, almost one year to the day of his massive accident, put those doubts to rest.
No, he wouldn't complete the fairy-tale and win the race proper. But a good friend of his did win; Alexander Rossi.
Having lost his Formula 1 spot, Rossi's return to America had been flat. Signing on in a high-profile seat at Andretti Autosports, expectation was high for 'the guy from F1'. Heading into that Indy 500 weekend, his best finish for the season had been a lowly 10th.
The win on Sunday (earned through impeccable strategy and race pace) was Rossi's own fairy-tale, and perhaps a sign that his and Hinchcliffes careers were destined to connect.
Don't expect them to be at the front of the field come the time this year's Great Race at Bathurst kicks off. But, don't write them off either. Follow their progress through practice and qualifying. They're fast learners, with mountains of talent.