IndyCar kicks off 2013 season

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It may not feel like IndyCar season yet - especially with Tuesday's winter storm warning - but IndyCar officially kicked off the beginning of this year's season in downtown Indianapolis today.

"It's not the nicest day in the world," said IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, surveying the cold rain. "It's a been chilly, it's a bit wet, but the fans have come out."

On Georgia Street, race fans had the chance to meet IndyCar drivers including Hinchcliffe Tuesday. The season technically begins later this month on March 24th at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but in the meantime, fans got free rides on street-legal IndyCar two-seaters and had a chance to hobnob with the drivers and get autographs.

"It's old fans, it's new fans, it's young fans, there's some really well-dressed fans!" Hinchcliffe observed.

"I'm as excited as anybody," he said. "I think just standing around here, the fans are as excited as the drivers are. It was a very long off-season for us but things are gearing up now. We've got one open test left and then it's off to St. Pete's, so we're getting close!"

This season, Hinchcliffe says, "with a season under the new car, everybody's got that a bit more sorted" so fans can expect some closer competition.

"There's a few new driver combinations that are pretty exciting, a couple of rookie guys coming in that are quick, so I think there are a lot of things for fans to be excited about for this season," he said.

The series' crown jewel, the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500, is set for Sunday, May 25th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.