Trent Hindman admits he “never imagined” making his GT Daytona class debut with the caliber of a team as Riley Team AMG, with the rising sports car racing star now set for an unexpected triple-duty weekend at Virginia International Raceway.
Hindman has been drafted into the Bill Riley-owned outfit as a last-minute substitute for Ben Keating, who returned home to Texas on Friday afternoon in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
For the former Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge champion, who makes his second career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship start after January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Prototype Challenge car, the out-of-the-blue opportunity has come as a welcome surprise.
“To be hunted down on the race weekend, after first practice was already over by Ben and Bill, and to be given the opportunity to drive this Mercedes-AMG for Bill Riley, my God, a guy like me is living the dream. I’ve got to pinch myself,” Hindman told Sportscar365.
“I can’t do anything but thank Bill and Ben for finding me, thinking of me and giving me this opportunity, Jeroen [Bleekemolen] as well for throwing my name into the hat.
“I never even imagined showing up here and being anything but a spectator for the WeatherTech Championship race. To be driving in it is totally unexpected.
“I’m just very lucky that I was the guy they think might just be their shot, not just to get a solid result but maintain championship position.”
The Silver-rated driver, who currently leads the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America championship with Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing and runs second in the Continental Tire Challenge GS title race with Bodymotion Racing, is now set to assist another championship-contending effort in the Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Keating and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen enter Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge second in GTD points, 15 points behind class leaders Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan, who have been the measure of consistency all season.
With Keating essentially giving up a chance of the title, Hindman realizes the supporting role he’s been thrusted into.
“These guys are in the championship fight, so I’ve got to make sure that I hold up my end here and deliver Jeroen a car that’s absolutely spotless,” he said.
“That’s most important, so he can fight to the end.
“If we’re fast in the process, then great. If not, then it is what it is. It’s a phenomenal experience; I can’t believe I’m doing it but also can’t believe that I have two other cars to look after this weekend too!”
With a pair of 50-minute Super Trofeo races and Saturday’s Biscuitville Grand Prix, Hindman has become the busiest driver in the IMSA paddock this weekend, but said he’s relishing the opportunity.
He also feels the extra track time could play to his benefit, despite being in totally different machinery between the three series.
“Seat time is seat time, no matter what it’s in,” he said. “Anything additional is going to help, no matter what I do.
“I’m lucky to drive three really good cars. The Huracan Super Trofeo is a phenomenal car. We at Prestige have those things dialed in right now.
“Obviously, all these Riley Motorsports guys have the Mercedes-AMG dialed in and the second year with the Bodymotion [Porsche] Cayman GT4, we’ve been strong with that car all year but had no luck on our side whatsoever, especially when looking at Road America.
“But I’m super, super lucky to be driving three really good race cars and good co-drivers in Riccardo Agonstini and Cameron Cassels, who were OK with me constantly running around. Now I have to thank Jeroen for putting up with it too as well!
“I know not many guys get this opportunity, especially in one weekend. It’s a dream come true.”