Robert Wickens has made his return to a race track after driving a specially modified Acura NSX prior to the start of Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto. Wickens took to the track for a handful of laps, with fiancee Karli Woods in the passenger seat, receiving a rapturous reception from the Canadian crowd in the process.
It has been eleven months since Wickens was involved in a sickening crash at the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway that left him paralysed from the waist down. Since then, Wickens has made it no secret that his aim is to race in the NTT IndyCar Series again in the future and has since documented his long road to recovery on social media.
Robert’s fans, friends and fellow competitors have been behind him every step of the way during his rehabilitation. This has potentially never been more evident than yesterday when he took to the Exhibition Place street circuit prior to the IndyCar race to complete two parade laps in an Acura NSX that had been fitted with hand controls by Arrow; a major sponsor of Robert’s IndyCar team Arrow Schmidt Peterson.
After the first of two parade laps – where Robert’s fiancee Karli Woods amusingly told him not to get so close to the walls – Robert pulled over at the start/finish line to give the command to start engines. “Future drivers of mine, start your engines,” Robert said.
Robert completed one more lap in the NSX before coming back to the pit-lane. After the memorable experience, Robert commented that the support he had received from fans since his accident had been “truly inspirational.”
“I’m over the moon with how crazy this is,” Wickens said after his parade laps, “This is just incredible. The support I have received this week and the support that I have received for the past 11 months has been truly inspirational for me.”
“The fans here in Toronto did not disappoint,” Wickens would continue, “The whole Honda Indy Toronto event has been one I’ll always remember. I never thought I’d be able to drive here this year, but with the hard work from Honda, Arrow, INDYCAR and Green Savoree, they have given me an amazing memory, and hopefully, something the fans here really enjoyed.”
It is safe to say that Robert, unfortunately, has a long road to recovery still ahead of him, but watching his strength and determination over the last eleven months since his accident has been a source of incredible inspiration for people across the globe.
Yesterday’s parade lap was yet another piece of evidence that suggests that Robert’s racing return is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. If the support shown to him yesterday is anything to go by, the day Robert takes a green flag again will be truly, truly special.
The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series continues this weekend with the Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 20.