Robert Wickens determined to race in IndyCar again after crash

Robert Wickens says racing in IndyCar again remains his primary "dream" following the severe spinal injury he suffered in his Pocono crash last year

Robert Wickens determined to race in IndyCar again after crash

Wickens has been rehabilitating and documenting his fight to walk again since sustaining multiple injuries in the horrific crash in August 2018.

This weekend in St Petersburg he is making his first appearance at a racetrack since the accident, attending the IndyCar season-opener to work with his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team's 2019 drivers James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson.

Wickens said he was open to racing again using hand controls in any category, but ideally wanted to return to his old drive - which SPM has made clear is waiting for him when he is ready.

"The goal is to get back into an IndyCar," he said. "We won't know till I try if it's a reality.

"There's been so many remarkable drivers that have succeeded with hand controls in motorsports that it makes me believe that regardless of how my progression goes, I will be in a racecar again.

"It's just a matter of which car. The dream is an IndyCar.

"I know the team has been very outspoken that they'll always have a car for me when I can race.

"There's also rules and regulations that we have to abide by. I don't know how many modifications we can make, etc.

"We'll have to cross that bridge when we get there."

Wickens praised Alex Zanardi and Billy Monger for what they had achieved using hand controls, and said it was vital to him to be competitive if he could return to racing.

"Anything is possible. I know I'm a hard worker, analytical. I think I could get on top of hand controls," said Wickens.

"My only fear is that I always wanted to get back into racing on the same level that I left off.

"I don't want to be just a driver in the field. I want to be one competing to win or score podiums like I was when I went out. That's kind of the main thing for me."

Describing his own personal progress, Wickens emphasised that he has no idea what the final outcome will be.

"I'm getting some stuff back, getting better each day," he said.

"You feel like you're on that road trip, it's the 100-mile road that's a straight line the entire time without any scenery, and you're just working as hard as you can to get to the end.

"We're getting there, one step at a time. It's basically all I can say - we're making progress.

"The thing with a spinal injury is you never know when that day comes where you won't progress any more.

"Right now we're trying to utilise every day we can to get as healthy as I can.

"I'm working my butt off, doing everything I can, because my whole philosophy in life is the harder you work, the better results you'll get.

"That's my approach today. I don't know if it's right or wrong. There could be a person beside me with the same spinal cord injury eating fast food and sitting in their hospital bed all day, and they might walk sooner than me.

"The doctors know I'm working too hard, they're telling me to rest. By the same token, they're kind of telling me to keep doing what I'm doing because it's working. I am doing four to six hours a day, six days a week and it's tough. I enjoy my day off on Sunday!

"The big thing for me is right now they always told me kind of the six to nine months or the six to 12 month frame is where you'll see the most progression.

"I'm kind of right at the beginning of that. Hopefully I didn't peak too soon!

"We're just a little bit over six months post-injury. I am getting a lot of improvement from week to week.

"I don't think it's really been escalating. I think it's been pretty linear. Every week we're making small improvements.

"[Fiancee] Karli [Woods] and I are documenting everything I can do at the start of each month. It's been remarkable to read back to see what I was doing February 1 to March 1, January 1. Every month it's a pretty consistent chunk of new things."

Wickens also paid extensive tribute to the "amazing" support he had received from fans and the motorsport community.

He singled out his team boss Sam Schmidt, who was rendered quadriplegic in a crash at Orlando in 2000, saying "I think he did a lot that I still don't realise, because I was in a state that I wasn't able to realise what he was doing."

Wickens emphasised how much difference messages from elsewhere in motorsport had made to him.

"When those drivers kind of reach out to you, you want to do it even more," he said.

"That's kind of the bigger thing: I want to finish this journey not just for myself but for the whole motorsports community.

"I don't want to fall short in any way."

shares
comments
St Petersburg IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay ends Friday practice on top
Previous article

St Petersburg IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay ends Friday practice on top

Next article

Carlin explains its Indianapolis 500 tie-up with Alonso and McLaren

Carlin explains its Indianapolis 500 tie-up with Alonso and McLaren
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 21, 2021
How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential Plus

How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential

Romain Grosjean's swashbuckling rookie year in IndyCar captured the imagination of many in 2021. But another ex-Formula 1 driver whose potential was masked by five years of toil in, at best, middling machinery also enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 - winning twice and finishing sixth in points. Here's how Marcus Ericsson finally delivered on his promise

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best Plus

How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best

IndyCar sophomore Alex Palou stunned by overcoming team-mate Scott Dixon and the rest of a white-hot field in 2021. He was consistently fast and crucially showed a level head, rebounding well from setbacks to put himself in a near unassailable position entering the final round

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Plus

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021