Last year’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca wasn’t necessarily the breakout sports car race for Trent Hindman personally, but it was the race that kicked off a banner series of events for him the rest of 2014 and the early portion of 2015.
Just this week, Hindman (far right in above picture) has been officially confirmed as one of four BMW Motorsport Junior drivers for 2015, and the first American since Graham Rahal and Tommy Milner in 2004.
The accolade comes nearly a year after Hindman and co-driver John Edwards finally capitalized on early season promise in their No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3. Their first win as teammates helped propel Hindman to the eventual GS class driver’s championship, following a heart-in-your-throat, tense afternoon at Road Atlanta in October.
Hindman, 19, looked back on what that Monterey race win meant to him and how it has propelled him forward to this point in his career.
“Into Laguna we knew were gonna be the strong car, as BMW has traditionally being strong there,” Hindman told Sportscar365. “Us being on pole was a little shock, but a welcome surprise.
“Aside from that, we just wanted to go out and execute a perfect race. And we did; we ran a clean solid race, perfect for our standards. It helped motivate everyone for the remainder of the year, and it got the monkey off our back.”
Hindman and Edwards also won at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas in September, and Hindman watched from the pit wall at Road Atlanta as Edwards brought the car home with enough of a margin over Stevenson Motorsports’ pairing of Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell to secure the title.
Through two races in 2015, Davis, Liddell and Stevenson’s second Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R of Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell has been the undisputed class of the field on pace. But a pre-race IMSA Balance of Performance adjustment (3 mm air restrictor reduction, 75 pound minimum weight increase) may reel the Camaro in.
“It should make the racing a bit closer, but Stevenson and Pratt & Miller have a great package,” Hindman said. “It’s mostly weight for us. We’re fairly low power as it is. We make horsepower, but not the torque, whereas the small block 427 is a monster on the bottom end.”
While Hindman and new co-driver Ashley Freiberg look to recapture their podium or winning ways starting this weekend, Hindman also has a new focus in his opportunity as a BMW Motorsport Junior.
Hindman barely made the Sebring race, having only got in the night before and turning his first laps of the weekend once Freiberg pitted during the race and handed the car over.
Hindman was selected for the program earlier this year, and the whirlwind has basically followed from there.
“Out of the blue I got the email, ‘We’re inviting you to an assessment day,’” Hindman said. “So we’d get physical, mental interviews and some other things like that.
“Ultimately they picked a handful of drivers, and weened it down from the assessment day to the guys who did the shootout in Spain.”
The 2015 BMW Motorsport Junior training program is lead by chief instructor Dirk Adorf. In addition to a further testing in September, the program includes two workshops at the iZone Driver Performance Centre in Silverstone (UK), and three VLN race starts in the BMW M235i Racing at the Nurburgring.
At the end of the year, the most successful BMW Motorsport Junior of the season will be given the opportunity to continue his training for a second year in a higher racing category.
“I was fortunate to do well in the assessment and shootout, and I’m one of the final four for the season,” Hindman said.
“Now is the hard part. Making the team was difficult enough. You have to go out and perform, do your best whatever you’re at – whether it’s this welcome event, in physical or media training, or the Nurburgring, or whatever it is.
“Ultimately at the end of the year they’ll cut three of us and bring one into their GT3 program. I can’t really just sit around, and I can’t necessarily sit back and take it all in. I have to do the best I can to remain a part of this program.”
Considering Hindman is an open-wheel convert, a past Team USA Scholarship winner who’s only been plying his trade in sports cars for a few years, his rise has been rapid.
But even though he’s already accomplished a lot in a short time for his age, he’s refusing to rest on his laurels, and continues to grow and improve.
“I’ve been blessed and lucky enough to be in the right places at right time,” Hindman said.
“Winning the GS championship was unbelievable and now being part of the BMW Junior program, hasn’t really sunk in.
“It’s one of those things where now, it’s ‘What’s the next step? How do I keep moving forward?’
“I want to stay within the BMW family. Maybe even one day, I can co-drive with John again, or race GT3 cars in Europe with BMW.
“I reflect when I can, but it’s all about focusing forward and continuing forward.”