James Hinchcliffe Recounts Bloody IndyCar Crash That Almost Claimed His Life on Emotional 'DWTS'
By Zach Seemayer
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It was "Most Memorable Year" week on Monday's Dancing With the Stars, meaning contestants performed routines inspired by the year that impacted their lives the most -- and for IndyCar racer James Hinchcliffe, that year was 2015.
On May 18, 2015, Hinchcliffe suffered the worst crash of his entire career while practicing for the Indy 500. The devastating accident and harrowing aftermath was examined in the pre-taped package before his performance, and it became apparent that the 29-year-old racer is lucky to be alive at all.
According to Hinchcliffe's father, Jeremy, the accident occurred while he was driving 224 miles per hour, and the impact of Hinchcliffe slamming into the track wall drove a chunk of the vehicle's suspension through the side of the car and into his hips and leg.
"James was bleeding so profusely, I replaced all the blood in his body three times over," Dr. Timothy Pohlman told the DWTS cameras. "And right when the elevators opened for the operating room, I lost the pulse."
When asked what the survival rate is on an injury like Hinchcliffe's, Dr. Pohlman simply stated, "zero."
"The exit wound and entry were so big, [the doctor] said he had his whole fist in it," Hinchcliffe recounted to his pro partner, Sharna Burgess, who looked like she might throw up from the horrific details of his accident.
"That was only 18 months ago," Burgess marveled. "How the heck are you on this show?"
Speaking to the cameras individually, Burgess said, "James doesn't understand how incredible he is. Within 18 months he went from someone assisting him to walk to killing ballroom dance."
"I would gladly go back and suffer through what I had to suffer through if I got to come out the man that I am today," Hinchcliffe shared in the closing moments of the video package. "That accident is the best thing that ever happened to me."
The IndyCar driver then took to the stage with Burgess for a passionate and expertly-performed tango to "The Right Time" by Yves V, which showed off Hinchcliffe’s control and physical prowess and blew the judges away.
"That is how you attack a tango!” judge Bruno Tonioli exclaimed after the performance. "Super slick, super sharp, amazing control."
"Your frame is the best frame I think I've ever seen on this competition," Julianne Hough praised, after Carrie Ann Inaba told Hinchcliffe that he's "the one to beat" this season. The couple ended up with a score of 29 out of 30, the highest score of the night.
The couple ran backstage to meet with host Erin Andrews, and were joined Dr. Polhman, who couldn't believe how fast the racer had recovered.
"It's a night of miracles. This is the miracle worker who got me back to where I needed to be," Hinchcliffe said, with a hand on his doctor's shoulder, before gesturing toward Burgess, "and this is the miracle worker that made me able to dance like this. It's just such an incredible experience."
ET caught up with Hinchcliffe during rehearsals with Burgess last week, and the IndyCar star opened up about the fiery wreck, and how it changed his outlook on life. Check out the video below to hear more.