Miami, are you ready? The Canadians are coming.
IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe has been making the rounds in the news lately as he tore up the dance floor with a mean foxtrot on ABC’s latest season of Dancing with the Stars. Hailing from Burlington, Ontario, Canadians are seriously proud of their hometown hero, going so far as to crown him the "Mayor of Hinchtown." And while Hinchcliffe had a spot in this year's Race of Champions, he needed a partner.
Answering that call, and dominating the online voting system, in which one North American driver would be picked to partner with Hinch, was Edmonton, Alberta native Stefan Rzadzinski. Coming off a successful season of Nissan Micra Cup racing, Rzadzinski will be partnering up with Hinch to take on ROC at the end of the month.
The ROC Factor social media voting competition saw 26,000 votes being cast for 10 drivers from North America and 10 from Latin America. Against global competition, Rzadzinski commanded nearly 10,000 votes. It was a clear and dominant lead that not only secured him the spot, but even saw him beating out American IndyCar driver Conor Daly, who had even received a few celebrity endorsements.
“I’m so happy I don’t even know what to say. Thank you everyone in Edmonton, Canada and around the world who has come on board. I couldn’t have done it without any of you. It was the most stressful four and a half days in my life and I can’t believe I made it. Racing is not that big of a sport here. It’s tough to get a story out in this part of the world. It’s not hockey! I think we had a compelling story and that’s what got it. This has been unreal. I could be lining up next to Sebastian Vettel next week,” said Stefan Rzadzinski in a statement to ROC organizers.
In addition to Hinchcliffe, ROC’s superstar racing roster includes Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan and Alexander Rossi, and DWTS alumni Helio Castroneves. We’ll also see 2012 IndyCar champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2014 Indy Lights champion, and 2015 Indy 500/IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves.
If that weren’t star power enough, Ferrari F1 driver and four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, recently retired F1 driver Felipe Massa, and nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen will also compete.
We’ll also see World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, NASCAR's 2015 premier series champion Kyle Busch and his brother, 2004 series champion Kurt Busch, action sports stars Travis Pastrana and double Global Rallycross champion Scott Speed joining the fray.
Motor1’s partner site, Motorsport.com is an official partner of the Race of Champions. So stay tuned for coverage as it happens here on Motor1 Canada and over at Motorsport.com. Racing gets underway January 21 - 22, 2017 at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida.
Photo: Kanishka Sonnadara / Motor1 Canada; IndyCar Media