Trent Hindman may be only 23 years old, but he’s nothing short of a veteran in IMSA competition. He won the Grand Sport championship in the then-Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge back in 2014 as a 19-year old. Since then, he’s been a regular threat to win races.
For 2018, Hindman performed double-duty during the series’ biggest races. He raced full-time for VOLT Racing in a Ford Mustang GT4 while running three races in Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s No. 86 Acura in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Both series and cars provide different experiences.
Unfortunately for Hindman, the Continental Tire SportsCar Championship season finale at Road Atlanta did not go well. Teammate Alan Brynjolfsson was taken out in an early wreck, meaning that Hindman never got a chance to get into the car.
After the race ended, Hindman sat down Frontstretch to discuss how things have changed for him since the last time we chatted with him.
Phil Allaway, Frontstretch: You’ve driven with Brynjolfsson for the full season and one Pirelli World Challenge weekend. How have you seen him progress this year?
Trent Hindman, No. 7 VOLT Racing Ford Mustang GT4: Alan’s been very fortunate to have good people working with him before I came into the picture. That cannot be forgotten about.
Myself and the rest of the VOLT Racing guys, we’ve been working on what talent he already has and he has a lot of it. Naturally, he’s a very brave guy. He’s not afraid of “sending it.”
A lot of our work this year has just been getting him to relax behind the wheel; to calm down and be a little bit more aware of what’s going on in all directions around him. I’m not speaking specifically about things on track, but more about the end of a stint, the end of a race. We’re trying to create a more complete race car driver [out of Brynjolfsson] rather than a guy that can lay down a really quick lap and that’s about it.
Allaway: Relaxing in a race car almost sounds like an oxymoron knowing that racing results in an elevated heart rate for a prolonged period of time.
Hindman: Think of it like boxing. The fighters who go into the ring the most relaxed usually do the best. It sounds crazy in one aspect, but it’s part of the challenge of developing as a driver. Keep your breathing regular, keep your heart rate down and keep your focus in those stressful moments. For most drivers, that just comes with time and experience. With Alan, he just hasn’t got a lot of experience yet. The more he races, the better he’s going to get. It’s a real pleasure to be part of his development.
Seeing that progression in him this year has been really encouraging for me. At the same time, if he’s learning, I’m learning as well. It’s a really good relationship in that aspect.
He’s done a phenomenal job all year and to chastise him for one real error all year would be wrong.
Allaway: 2018 was your first year with the Mustang. You seemed to like it out of the box, but what do you think about it now that you have a full season under your belt?
Hindman: I think Multimatic and Ford have done a phenomenal job with the resources they’ve been given to create a race car out of it. I think some of the manufacturers are stretching things a bit too thin with the GT4 platform.
Ford has stuck pretty true to [their] roots. The car is very similar to what’s coming out of the showroom, which is the point of GT4.
Multimatic has supported us tremendously throughout the year and I hope that we have been supportive towards them in this relationship; it goes both ways. The car itself is phenomenal. Nothing will make you smile more than a big 5.2-liter American V8 pounding around the high banks at Daytona. Overall, it’s been a great car and a proven platform. Just this year alone, the car’s brought home victories and a championship. It was a pleasure to drive with it all year.
Allaway: [Oct. 12] was the final race for Continental as title sponsor of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. With a couple of exceptions, it’s also more or less the only tire you’ve ever raced on in your professional career. What are your memories of Continental?
Hindman: You just look at the livery we’re running this week on the No. 86 Acura this weekend and that says it all.
They’ve been involved in the sport for 10 years and put in an unbelievable amount of effort. They’ve done nothing but promote the drivers, the teams [and] the manufacturers, along with themselves. A lot of times, you get a title sponsor like that and they want to be selfish, but Continental has been the exact opposite.
From a technical perspective, they’ve done nothing but create exciting racing in terms of strategy, door-to-door action. Look at the [CTSC]. It’s some of the most thrilling, door-to-door racing on the planet and has been for quite some time.
Just to be part of this whole era, at least the last half of it, has been a real honor. Of course, I look forward to what’s coming next, but it would be really appropriate for everyone in the paddock to give Continental and everybody there a big thank you for what they’ve done for all of us.
Allaway: The [CTSC] has become a bit more international in recent years. HTP Motorsport is in the series with Winward Racing, and that’s just one example. The GT4 cars have brought a greatly increased car count at a time when homebuilding cars had become very difficult. The series seems to be a very interesting place now.
Hindman: It is. Referring back to Continental, they’ve done a tremendous amount to make the series attractive to European teams and drivers and really a large international audience to come over and entertain the idea of running in the championship. It’s as strong as it is for a reason.
It goes down to the simple fact of that [the championship] is some of the most competitive GT racing that you’re going to see on the planet. To be a part of that is phenomenal in and of itself.
Allaway: There are many, many different types of racing out there, both here in the United States and overseas. What other forms of racing are out there that you see and think, ‘Gee, that’s pretty sweet. I want in on it.’”
Hindman: Just in terms of the raw, sweet factor, I’d have to say a World of Outlaws 410 sprint car. I love dirt, I love big horsepower. I think that’s pretty hard to beat, but it’s got pros and cons like anything else.
Dirt [racing] and sports car racing are really different disciplines of motorsport. Obviously, we all want to run the big ones, like the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring. Here at Petit Le Mans. Watkins Glen. On top of that, I want to find myself at some of these international races at some point, like the 24 Hours Nürburgring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Those are the sort of events I’d like to be at.
But, if we’re talking completely out of endurance sports car racing, then yes. 410 sprint cars.
Allaway: Have you ever actually driven a race car on dirt?
Hindman: No, I haven’t. I’ve only driven a non-winged midget on a one-third of a mile asphalt oval and that was really cool. It was actually the first race car that I had ever driven before anything else.
Allaway: Interesting. When was that?
Hindman: That was at a track in Northern California, part of a shootout-style deal. I was 12 years old and directly out of racing cadet karts.
I got an opportunity to go and test this car and maybe be part of a development program. I didn’t get the prize, but it was a [great] experience. Things worked out that way for a reason, but just the experience alone to be able to try a different discipline and totally different style of car was great. Just being able to drive a car at such a young age, that was a really big deal. It’s all small opportunities like that that ultimately make you a better driver.
Allaway: How have you developed as a driver over the past four years?
Hindman: It’s hard to say. I even go back and watch onboard [cameras] from that long ago and compare them to what I see now. It’s really cool to see the progression. I’ve just been fortunate to work with really good people and a lot of folks that I can draw ideas from.
Not all of it, but some of the ideas have stuck. I hope in four years from now when we sit down and talk again, I’ll probably be saying the same thing. That I worked with some great teams, great co-drivers and a lot of folks that are willing and able to take me under their wing and show me the ropes.
It’s a process that I don’t foresee ever stopping, and I’m happy about that. I’m happy to know that there’s always going to be more to go after and more to learn.
Allaway: A lot has changed over that time in sports car racing. Back then, you were racing a BMW M3 that was built from a street car.
Hindman: The technology in street cars has come so far in recent years, there’s no way that a privateer team can build a race car [today] like they were able to five or six years ago. The resources that you’d need to understand the whole electronics side of things would be really difficult.
I think the whole transition into GT3 and GT4 is really good, not just from the side of teams being able to take these cars and put them on track and hit the ground running, but also from having direct manufacturer support. That’s something that we didn’t have in the past,
Note: Not only did teams running in Grand Sport generally not receive manufacturer support, but there was also even outright ambivalence on the part of manufacturers. Porsche, in particular, was up front on their lack of support of teams racing former street cars.
Allaway: A number of your IMSA compatriots were in competition at the ROVAL a couple of weeks ago, but had issues.
Hindman: One guy that did well was our boy Justin Marks in the No. 93. He had a great run to P2. It was a lot of fun to watch. I know it was sort of Justin’s swan song in NASCAR, but he’s really good on road courses in those things. He’s a monster.
Having a guy like that come over on this side of motorsport and share his knowledge, it’s really, really cool. If there’s a silver lining to anything else, it was Justin getting it done.
Hindman: Their résumés speak for themselves. Katherine’s unbelievably experienced in all kinds of open-wheel and closed-wheel racing. Champ Car, Prototypes, now a second full year of GT racing. She’s willing to take me under her wing and share her knowledge and I really appreciate that.
Àlvaro is the same, but he is a monster in a GT3 car. That guy is really a killer in the car, but he’s such a calm and cool guy outside of the car. Communication between all three of us is really important. I think that’s [the key] in trying to put together a great team for long distance races.
I’m learning a ton from Kat and Àlvaro and I hope I’m providing a little bit [of knowledge] to them, too. I hope there’s something that I bring to the table that they can look at and say, “Gee, I think I’ll give that a shot.”
Allaway: With Allmendinger, he’s a past overall winner of the Rolex 24, raced Champ Car and Cup full-time. Did he bring a different outlook into racing at the Rolex 24?
Hindman: I wouldn’t say it was drastically different, but he brought the outlook of knowing what it takes to win the Rolex 24 as a driver and to win it overall no less. If you have someone with that level of experience and knowledge, it amplifies everything.
I don’t know if there’s a team in the paddock that has more knowledge than Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian. Not just the drivers, but Mike himself and everybody. Every single mechanic on the crew has a story to tell and so much experience to call upon.
For me, Daytona was race No. 3 in GT Daytona and this is race No. 5. I still have a lot to learn, but I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be part of.
At the time this interview was conducted, Hindman was unsure of his plans for the 2019 season. It has since been announced that he will be full-time in both the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the renamed Michelin Pilot Challenge. Four weeks after this interview, VOLT Racing and Park Place Motorsports announced that they would join forces for the upcoming season. Brynjolfsson and Hindman will drive the No. 7 Porsche Cayman GT4 full-time.
“Last year, Alan Brynjolfsson and I had the pleasure of working with Mike Johnson as our team manager,” Hindman told Frontstretch in Daytona. “Mike had also worked all year with Park Place in GT Daytona, calling strategy and dealing with organizational items.
“After the season, Mike told us that he was going to go work for them full-time,” he continued. “It only made sense for Alan to move his program in with Park Place as well.”
A month later, Hindman was confirmed as a full-time driver for Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian in their No. 86 Acura alongside Mario Farnbacher. As per new IMSA rules for 2019, Hindman will be qualifying the car in most races this upcoming season. Marks is in for the endurance races, while Allmendinger will drive in the Rolex 24 at Daytona while juggling his duties with NBC Sports.
At the time the main chunk of this interview was conducted, this was already in motion to a degree.
“I had to keep my mouth shut the last time I talked to you since it was already in the works,” Hindman said. “I [didn’t] want to be the guy that speaks too soon. Either way, that was definitely a call that I wasn’t expecting to get. The nature of GT Daytona is such that it is a difficult paddock to break into, especially when you’re in a GT4 car trying to move up.”
Hindman credits his three races with the team last year (which included podium finishes at Daytona and Road Atlanta) for getting his name out there. He also credited his time with Wayne Taylor Racing in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America for providing “a training ground” for GT3-style equipment.
Hindman will be back on track at Sebring International Raceway in March, once again doing double-duty. He’ll be back in the VOLT Lighting Porsche in the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 on March 15 right before the FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles of Sebring. He’ll also be racing in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Advance Auto Parts on March 16.