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Hildebrand's new helmet calls for social justice, equality

Hildebrand's new helmet calls for social justice, equality

J.R. Hildebrand will run a special helmet design in Sunday’s 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 championing what he believes are three tenets that all Americans should endeavor to give and receive.

In his tenth year racing the 500, and his fourth with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing-Chevrolet, the California-born 32-year-old’s helmet has become a predominantly black design with the words “Rights, Justice, Opportunity” in bold font (see pics below).

The livery retains the USA stars and stripes in his initials on top, adds blue flame-belching exhausts on the side, a graphic of Astro – a character from his principal sponsor Salesforce – and the logos of Justin Wilson, Dan Wheldon and Nicky Hayden at the back.

Asked to explain the change in design, Hildebrand said, “I tried to be thoughtful about it on Twitter although it’s obviously not that much space to talk about something that’s sensitive or that people find sensitive right now.

“Over the last several months, one of the things that I’ve been reflecting on a lot with everything that’s going on, whether it’s the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdowns, the impact that’s having on people… My wife’s a nurse so she’s been right in the thick of it as a healthcare worker over the last several months.

"Being able to slow down, stand back and listen and comprehend, in maybe a different way than usual, the state of social justice in this country and being more open and listening to those kinds of conversations in a way that I have not been as aware of as I feel I should have been in my lifetime until now.

“As an American I’m still incredibly proud to be born here, and to be an American citizen, and of so many things we do and that we alone do in this country. But at the same time recognizing that not everybody here in this country is having that same experience. How unfortunate that alone is! That we’re not all experiencing what this country has to offer and the original promise of what America has to offer.

“So I went all-black on my helmet this year and on the back, instead of my name, I have the words, ‘Rights’, ‘Justice’ and ‘Opportunity’ because I really like the core principles that America was founded upon. Part of it is a reminder to myself that it’s our job as Americans to make sure that these things are given, experienced and accessed equally. And that’s something I feel that, over the last few months, I’ve definitely come to recognize is not currently the case. We still have work to do in that department.

“Indy is a good place to at least show that’s where my head’s at right now in terms of what’s going on, and that we have so much to offer and should be making sure that we’re offering that to everybody evenly, across the board.”

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About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Indy 500
Drivers J.R. Hildebrand
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Author David Malsher-Lopez