TRENT HINDMAN’S WILD WEEKEND AT VIR: COUNTING DOWN THE NUMBERS
Through an interesting turn of events, Trent Hindman found himself racing in three different series and three different race cars this past weekend at VIRginia International Raceway. Looking back, Hindman shares his mindset, the results, and how the weekend became a dream come true.
Hindman went to VIR expecting to compete in three races- two Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America sprint races, as well as the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix.
That plan changed early Friday morning.
Immediately following the first Continental Tire Challenge practice, and while heading to debrief with his Prestige Performance team for Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Hindman received a text from Travis Houge. Houge is the general team manager for Wayne Taylor Racing, which provides support to Prestige Performance, and the message said he needed to meet with Hindman immediately.
“I met up with Travis in the paddock and he just told me to start walking with him,” Hindman said. “I was a little bit surprised like, ‘Okay, where are we going? What are we doing?’”
Houge and Hindman walked over to Riley Motorsports’ transporter in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship paddock and on the way, Houge explained that Ben Keating, full-time co-driver of the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Team-AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Jeroen Bleekemolen, may have to return home to Texas. Keating’s home and numerous car dealerships were in the path of Hurricane Harvey.
“They asked me if I would be able to manage three championships in a weekend and I immediately said ‘Yes’ without even thinking about it,” Hindman said. “Once I was walking away, it started hitting me like, ‘How the hell am I going to effectively do a good job for everybody and maintain the championship positions that everybody is in?’ To have a situation like this, with a total unknown factor, to essentially not screw it up, that was definitely a little bit of pressure.”
A few hours later, Keating was officially headed home to Texas and the 21-year-old was tabbed to take his place in the WeatherTech Championship Michelin GT Challenge on Sunday.
“Obviously, I was thrilled I was getting the opportunity, but it’s also unfortunate the circumstance for Ben and everybody based in southeastern Texas,” Hindman said. “I think I speak for many people that everybody outside of that area is certainly thinking of those affected by the storm.”
Managing three championships in three days is a feat by itself, but what Hindman did – landing on the podium three times in four races – was remarkable.
Hindman scored both poles ahead of the two Lamborghini Super Trofeo races in the No. 1 Lamborghini Huracán LP620-2 with co-driver Riccardo Agostini and took the first victory on Saturday in the Pro class, while overcoming a punctured tire to place second in Sunday morning’s race.
“Riccardo and I and the whole Prestige Performance Wayne Taylor Racing team were carrying a lot of momentum from a very good weekend at Road America, so we wanted to carry that into VIR obviously,” said Hindman. “We learned a lot about our car at Road America and we finally felt – at least from the perspective of myself, our engineer David Wagner and Riccardo – we’re all clicking now and making some really good progress and all on the same page. The car has been getting better and better. We’re just keeping our heads down for the most part.”
It was in the Biscuitville Grand Prix, however, that Hindman faced his biggest challenge of the weekend. Sharing the No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 with Cameron Cassels, the team entered the weekend for the first time not in the championship lead of the Grand Sport (GS) class.
Cassels qualified the car in ninth and the team ran in the top 10 before a full-course caution came out immediately after the team’s pit stop and driver change. Radio issues kept the team from communicating with Hindman about their strategy, and the car wound up a lap down. The team finished 12th and currently sits 20 points out of the GS championship lead that they once held two races ago.
“It’s out of anybody’s control really,” Hindman said. “For whatever reason, it wasn’t in the Big Man’s plans for us to have a good result and we’ll move on. It’d really take a lot of bad luck on (our competitors’) part and us winning the next two races to get ourselves back in position to win the championship. It feels like we’ve been kicked in the gut.”
For his last race of the weekend, the Michelin GT Challenge, Hindman was prepared to make his first GT Daytona (GTD) start in a Mercedes-AMG GT3. Practice time allowed Hindman to meet the team, adjust to the new car and rehearse driver changes ahead of his second career WeatherTech Championship start.
Bleekemolen qualified the car fourth and the team steadily ran up front to bring home a third-place result. That podium was the best finish for the No. 33 team since winning the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown at Circuit of The Americas in May.
“They had a very structured, very organized program and chain of command to where a driver like me could just come in, be briefed, be given a couple handbooks on the 27 different buttons and controls on the center console alone,” Hindman explained. “It was just phenomenal, almost surreal in a sense that everything was happening so quick and something like this had presented itself last minute.”
The three podium finishes weren’t the only thing Hindman had to celebrate once the weekend was over. His performances had helped solidify championship leads in two different series.
In Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Hindman and Agostini entered VIR with a six-point lead. After the weekend, the Prestige Performance team expanded that margin to 11 points heading to the final two races of 2017.
In the incredibly diverse GTD class, Hindman and Bleekemolen’s third-place finish boosted Mercedes-AMG back into the top spot of the manufacturer championship standings. The German manufacturer leads eight other manufacturers, with the closest being Ferrari just one point behind with two races remaining.
“I think I was literally working off coffee for three days to keep myself going, but that’s what a guy like me lives for,” Hindman said. “That’s what we want to be doing. I’m just lucky that Ben, Bill (Riley), Wayne and Travis were able to come together and recommend me to fill the role. I hope I executed that in a fashion which they found acceptable.”
VIR was one dream weekend for the New Jersey native.
“For me to sit here and say ‘Oh, it was so tough running back and forth…’” Hindman joked. “Yeah, it’s so tough running back and forth between a Lamborghini, a Porsche and a Mercedes-AMG. Life is good. Life is really good. It’s something that a guy like me dreams about doing.”