Marco Andretti's Attempted Prank on James Hinchcliffe Backfired Wonderfully

nissan march
Andretti's Attempted Prank on HinchcliffeCourtesy James Hinchcliffe

“The plan backfired,” Marco Andretti said. “He likes the damn thing.”

The funniest moments so far during the run up to Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 have nothing to do with the 240mph cars on track and everything to do with the cars parked in the drivers’ motorhome lot positioned next to Indy’s Gasoline Alley garages.

In hindsight, James Hinchcliffe brought this whole thing on himself.

“Marco called me and said, ‘I'm about to buy you a gift, but I'm only going to do it if it's dumb, and I'm only going to do it if you promise to use it every day in May,’” Hinchcliffe told Road & Track. “And so, I was obviously intrigued by this, and just sort of blindly I was like, ‘Do I get any other information?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘All right. Sure.’”


The former teammates at Andretti Autosport, the multi-series operation owned by Andretti’s father Michael, is where Hinchcliffe won the majority of his IndyCar races and spent plenty of time with Marco on the racing circuit.

As two of the lighter personalities in the sport, it’s only natural for Andretti to find ways to amuse himself at the Canadian’s expense and, in kind, for Hinchcliffe to plot the American’s demise.

“I assumed it was something that had to be worn,” Hinchcliffe added as he uncorked an epic yarn. “He said it was stupid, but I didn't realize he was being that stupid. I had no idea it was to this level. It all stems from a trip that we were on together where our rental car was one of these things.”

The ‘these things’ is a mightily obscure car for a Canuck to be driving in the land of Hoosiers.

Courtesy James Hinchcliffe

“It's a Nissan March,” he continued. “It's a right-hand-drive ‘97 Nissan March. Wow. And so like I said, we had one as a rental car on this trip we were on and it was in really rough shape, to be fair, and he just was constantly shitting on me for having this rental car.

“And I was just constantly defending it, like, 'it's not that bad.' I was just kind of Canadian about it. And so when he showed up at my house with this thing, he was like, ‘Well, you seem to love it so damn much, I figured I'd get my friend the rental car he couldn’t live without.'”

IndyCar drivers love nothing more than pranking each other during the long two-week stretch spent at the Indy 500. They steal each other’s golf cart keys, fill each other’s busses with balloons, and partake in other forms of mild mischief. Sticking a guy with an epic RHD turd as his daily driver isn’t just next-level; it’s on a level of its own. Advantage Andretti.

Courtesy James Hinchcliffe

“He spent a good amount of time on Facebook Marketplace,” Hinchcliffe said. “From what I understand, the shipping cost considerably more than the car itself in getting it here from Baltimore. And of course, Marco titled the thing to me and it's insured, so now it's truly my problem. And he said, and I quote, ‘I hope this causes you nothing but trouble and headaches.’”

And, as Andretti said at the beginning, saddling his pal with this blue piece of automotive mediocrity was meant to be a gag that ruined Hinchcliffe’s reputation. Turns out, the odd little duck has become the smash hit among IndyCar drivers in their private Indy 500 lot filled with supercars and expensive SUVs.

“It’s backfired on him SO aggressively because everyone that sees it thinks it’s so cool,” said Hinchcliffe. “They’re all like, ‘Where'd you get it? What's the story? That car is awesome!’ So it totally backfired. And then, so keeping up with my side of the bargain, true to the deal, I took it to the Speedway every day. And on the first day of practice, the drivers had nothing to do because it was raining.

“Those idiots were sitting in the bus lot, bored, and I had parked my March there and they decided to hacksaw the muffler off it. Which I am pleased to report also backfired because now it sounds awesome. It went from not having a sound to sounding like I have put a lot of effort and money into making this thing sound cool and go faster. Let me tell you, it does not go any faster, or fast, period. But now if I rev it up in neutral, it sounds awesome. They’re so dumb.”

Arming Hinchcliffe with a joke-car missing its muffler was indeed one of the dumber things the unnamed driver or drivers could have done.

“It's gets better,” he continued. “I'm going to roll in at like midnight on Saturday night, park right in front of the bus of the guilty party that chopped my muffler off, put it in neutral and just bang it off the limiter. I already snuck it into the bus lot and parked it behind Marco’s golf cart so he was blocked in and had to walk everywhere. That was fun.

“We had to take it downtown for a sponsor dinner thing I had to do, and so I was downtown in Indy working and had this thing by all the nice restaurants. The restaurant I actually showed up to, not knowing Marco was there, was perfect because I pulled up to the valet behind his car, which is a much nicer car than this and it was a very funny juxtaposition.”

In time—if it hasn’t already happened—Andretti will regret this prank-gone-sideways. Hinchcliffe, as he’s wont to do, has returned the favor by giving his friend all of the trouble and headaches that were originally intended for him…

Courtesy James Hinchcliffe

“Before he gave it to me, he took it to the race shop and got all these stickers put on it like, ‘I’m Marco’s number one fan,’ and ‘Fueled by maple syrup,’ and all this stuff. So it's littered with decals. It's got bumper stickers galore.

“But when I pulled up to the restaurant and I saw his Lambo parked out front, I went as close to it as I possibly could and then I took a picture from a bit of an angle so it looked like I'd run into the back of the Lambo. I texted him and I was like, ‘Sorry man! The brakes apparently aren't all that good.’”

What’s next for Hinch’s Nissan?

“We might need to do a throwback livery on it from Marco’s formerly impressive career,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe the Snapple car. We’ll find a good one he won’t like.”

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