Tuesday, January 3, 2017

J.R. Hildebrand Born In Sausalito, California - January 3, 1988

January 3, 1988
J.R. Hildebrand
(Photo: insidetherace via photopin cc)
Born in Sausalito, California, USA.
He currently competes in the Formula Drift series for Tyler McQuarrie. He previously competed in the Izod IndyCar Series, driving the #4 National Guard car for Panther Racing. Hildebrand was leading the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with two turns to go, and crashed into the wall coming out of turn four, handing the win to Dan Wheldon. Hildebrand was injured in the October 2011 crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship that killed Wheldon.

At the age of 14, Hildebrand started racing go karts in the Jim Russell Arrive and Drive Championship at Infineon Raceway in Northern California; winning not only his first race but the championship that year. In 2003, he raced in the Jr. 80cc Shifter class finishing a close second, and at the end of that year made the transition from karts to cars by winning the Jim Russell Graduate Runoffs; racing in Formula Russell in 2004. That year, he went on to win the series championship; also participating in the Red Bull Driver Search. He then moved up to Pacific F2000 in 2005; finishing second overall as rookie of the year, also being chosen for the Team USA Scholarship, earning him a ride in the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy, in which he finished third. In 2006, he dominated the U.S. F2000 National Championship; winning the championship and 12 out of 14 races.

In recognition of his impressive 2006 performance, Hildebrand won the Gorsline Scholarship and was elected to the AARWBA All American Auto Racing First Team.

 For 2007, he moved to the Champ Car Atlantic series, driving for Newman Wachs Racing. He finished seventh in points and was the top US rookie in the series. After the season's conclusion he made 2 starts for RLR-Andersen Racing in the Indy Pro Series. Hildebrand then went on to contest the entire series schedule, which was renamed the Firestone Indy Lights Series, for RLR-Andersen in 2008. He captured his first series win in the fourth race of the season at Kansas Speedway, his second start on an oval. He finished 5th overall in the 2008 championship.

For the 2009 season he signed with defending championship winning team AGR-AFS Racing, and after winning four races and taking five pole positions, he eventually claimed the title at the penultimate round at Chicagoland. That year he also competed in the final round of the A1 Grand Prix series for A1 Team USA at Brands Hatch, finishing 4th in the Sprint race. He was again elected to the AARWBA All American Auto Racing First Team for 2009. Hildebrand spent three days testing for the Force India Formula One team in December 2009, at the Jerez circuit, in a car shared with Paul di Resta.

American Le Mans Series' Genoa Racing signed Hildebrand to race a LMPC class car for 2010. He contested the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Hildebrand made his IndyCar Series debut in 2010, competing in two races for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing as a substitute driver for the injured Mike Conway. On Tuesday, December 14, 2010, it was announced that Hildebrand signed a multi–year contract to drive the #4 National Guard entry for Panther Racing, starting in 2011 after impressing the team during a test.

Later in 2011, Hildebrand qualified for the Indianapolis 500, and was the most successful rookie during his premiere race. Hildebrand was able to lead at the halfway point for Panther Racing, and stayed on the lead lap for the entire race. This allowed him to take a gamble during his last pit stop, stretching out his fuel load to an eventual lead on the final lap. On the very last turn, he slid out of the racing lane and into the retaining wall while passing rapidly slowing Charlie Kimball, allowing Dan Wheldon to take the victory. Despite the damage to his car, Hildebrand retained enough speed to cross the finish line in second place.

On Sunday, 16 October 2011, Hildebrand was involved in a 15-car chain reaction crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the season-ending IZOD IndyCar World Championships. Hildebrand sustained an injured sternum and was transported by ground ambulance to a Las Vegas area hospital, where he was admitted for treatment. The crash claimed the life of two-time Indy winner Wheldon.

Following a last-place finish in the 2013 Indianapolis 500, Hildebrand was released by Panther Racing. He had announced earlier in the year that he would be running selected Formula DRIFT races as a teammate to Tyler McQuarrie. In 2014, Hildebrand joined Ed Carpenter Racing for the Indianapolis 500, driving the #21.

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