HINCHTOWN, Pennsylvania – The Mayor has spoken.
Actually, a pair of truly elected Pennsylvania representatives have spoken, temporarily renaming Pocono Raceway’s infield camping area “Hinchtown” in honor of Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe.
Hinchcliffe shouldn’t get too attached to his namesake, however. It stands for only 24 hours, they said.
“I think we’d have to rewrite the Pennsylvania constitution to name a Canadian as a mayor for more than 24 hours,” said Doyle Heffley, a member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives who represents the 122nd District bordering the 2.5-mile oval track in Long Pond that hosts today’s ABC Supply 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).
Hinchtown is the fictitious community set up on the internet by Hinchcliffe, the self-proclaimed mayor. For a day, at least, Hinchtown has a home on land through the end of today’s race.
“Who would have thought ‘Hinchtown’ is actually in Pennsylvania?” Hinchcliffe said.
The elected officials said it’s important to support people who support their constituents. Mario Scavello, a Pennsylvania state senator, said motorsports and its tourism contribute an estimated $250 million to the local economy. Scavello represents Monroe and Northampton counties. Monroe is where the track lies; Northampton has Nazareth, which is home to the Andretti family.
“I think what (Hinchcliffe does) is great because he has all these (social media) followers,” Scavello said. “The sport needs that – more of these type of drivers because that’s how you get the young people to follow. I applaud that.”
The idea to establish Hinchtown at Pocono originated with a group of campers who attend Verizon IndyCar Series races at Pocono and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They call themselves “the PAIN Tour,” as they represent Pennsylvania and Indiana.
The group started in 2002 with two members: Terry Trego and his wife and then-girlfriend, Holly, both residents of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They’ve grown to 53 campers this weekend. They also have attended Verizon IndyCar Series races in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Watkins Glen, New York.
Last year, they invited Hinchcliffe to do his podcast, “The Mayor on Air,” live from their Pocono campground. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver brought fellow drivers Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly then. This year, the live podcast returned, with Marco Andretti and Will Power joining Hinchcliffe for the fun.
“The coolest thing about this is they approached us last year,” said Hinchcliffe, who will start 12th in today’s race. “They were fans of the podcast, which is cool in its own right, and they call themselves the PAIN Tour because they are from Pennsylvania and Indiana, and they do these trips every year.
“(We) thought it was a cool opportunity to connect with the fans and it really went well, so why not make it a tradition. Hopefully it’s something we can do for years to come.”
Listen to Saturday's podcast here: