“This Canuck is very happy!”
With that said and an ear-to-ear grin on his face, Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe headed behind the counter at the first Tim Hortons in Indianapolis to work at the drive-through window.
Tim Hortons is famous throughout Hinchcliffe’s native Canada for its coffee, doughnuts and “Timbits” doughnut holes. Hinchcliffe said he’s been counting the days for the first location to open in his adopted hometown. So when the franchise announced its first three days in operation would be devoted to raising money for local charities, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver leapt at the chance.
He spent nearly an hour today handing out orders to grateful INDYCAR fans and unsuspecting customers who circled the building in the drive-through line. Hinchcliffe’s “work” stint raised funds for Chapel Glen Elementary near the Tim Hortons on the far west side of Indianapolis.
“I have been on the receiving end of a Tim Hortons drive-through like a million times in my life,” Hinchcliffe said before donning the logoed Tim Hortons shirt and getting on-the-job training. “We’re doing a little bit of a role reversal here and I’m going to be the guy in the window.
“Anytime there’s a charity event in town, we’re usually happy to be on board. This is my adopted home, I love being involved in the community. When I get to tie in something charitable with one of my favorite things, this makes too much sense. Everybody wins.”
Tom Collins II, the owner of the restaurant and developer for Tim Hortons franchise stories in the Indianapolis area, said Hinchcliffe had been in contact with his group since it first announced plans last year to open the first location. Eager to help is an understatement for Hinchcliffe’s enthusiasm.
“Along the way, I’ve had multiple phone calls from James and his team about how excited he is,” Collins said. “James is very gracious and felt like he needed to be here today to work the drive-through for charity. He’s a great guy and we’re so excited to have him here.
“James’ personality is great and everything he stands for, so it matches very well with what our mission is – to help the community and raise money today for an elementary school.”
Hinchcliffe grew up in Oakville, Ontario, a Toronto suburb. Tim Hortons was founded by the legendary hockey player of the same name. Tim Horton spent most of his 24-year National Hockey League career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he was part of four Stanley Cup champion teams.
Horton opened his first doughnut shop in 1964. The chain now claims more than 4,000 locations across Canada, so it is part of the nation’s fabric that Hinchcliffe fondly recalls.
“Tim Hortons in Canada is a staple,” he said. “They’re everywhere. As Canadian as maple syrup is, Tim Hortons is. As Canadian as good beer is, Tim Hortons is. As Canadian as hockey is, Tim Hortons is. This is one of the things people associate with Canada, and now it’s here in Indianapolis and we’re really excited.”