With Election Night fever taking over the country next week, INDYCAR and RTV6 have officially announced their endorsement ... of Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe.
The Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis-based ABC affiliate RTV6 are teaming to host a "Dancing with the Stars" election-themed watch party Monday at Forty Five Degrees in downtown Indianapolis, where TV screens will display Week 9 of the hit show's 23rd season. The party will support Hinchcliffe, commonly known as the "Mayor of Hinchtown," as he continues his quest for the mirror ball trophy awarded to the celebrity champion of the dance competition.
The watch party starts at 8 p.m. ET Monday – when the live ABC broadcast begins – at Forty Five Degrees. Admission is free to guests ages 21 and older. The event will feature appearances from other Verizon IndyCar Series drivers showing their support for Hinchcliffe, giveaways, live performances from a local professional dancer and more. Part of the restaurant will be a dedicated "polling area" where fans can vote for Hinchcliffe throughout the show’s live broadcast. Fans who vote at least six times will receive a free drink ticket, as well as an "I Voted" Hinchcliffe sticker.
"We’ve reached the ‘playoffs’ in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and Hinch has clearly shown he’s the man to beat this season," said Dave Furst, RTV6 sports director. "But it’s more than the judges’ vote. We’re excited to be helping James’ ‘ground game’ for the rest of the way, beginning Monday night. Join us!"
Forty Five Degrees (765 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, Ind. 46204) will create unique drink selections for the event and offer a full dinner menu. The restaurant has hosted watch parties with RTV6 since the beginning of the show’s current season.
Giveaways will include a large selection of "Vote 4 Hinch" t-shirts, yard signs, stickers, hats and buttons. Attendees will have the chance to take photos with life-sized cutouts of Hinchcliffe and his professional dance partner Sharna Burgess, as well as the opportunity to sit in the street-legal two-seater Indy car that will be parked outside the restaurant.
Hinchcliffe, who drives the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, has topped the judges’ leaderboard four times in the first eight weeks of "Dancing with the Stars" competition and has earned the highest cumulative score of all the contestants. The most recent episode on Halloween night saw Hinchcliffe up front yet again, this time earning a perfect 30 score from the judges with pro Jenna Johnson as Burgess sat out with a knee injury. Three weeks of competition remain before the Nov. 22 season finale.
In order for Hinchcliffe to continue in the competition, viewers must vote on the night of the broadcast via phone at 1 (800) 868-3405 and online on Facebook or ABC.com. Voting opens at the start of the show, with phone lines remaining open until an hour after the show airs in each time zone and online voting accepted through 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.