JR Hildebrand is hoping that his 26th birthday, celebrated Friday will be the start of a much happier year, after going through a lot of “hell” the past couple of years including a 15 car chain reaction crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2011, that left him with an injured sternum and was transported by ground ambulance to a Las Vegas area hospital, and claimed the life of 2-time Indy winner Dan Wheldon.
Just months before, Hildebrand (nicknamed Captain America by fans) lost the Indy 500 to Wheldon when he crashed coming out of turn four, although he had enough speed to come in second, despite losing a wheel.
This past year, however, Hildebrand was terminated by Panther Racing after finishing in last place at the Indy 500. He also had his car broken into with items stolen, and then was forced to fend off an attempted robbery.
He now competes for Tyler McQuarrie in the Formula Drift series, aka Formula D-1, a 7-round championship that mixes together traditional racing with extreme sports at at race tracks across the United States. Instead of being rated on who finishes the course in the fastest time, Formula Drift drivers are judged on execution and style.