Pocono: Robert Wickens

CBC News, December 1, 2019

Race driver Robert Wickens was told he’d never walk again, but he was determined to dance at his wedding

Robert Wickens has watched the crash countless times.

The Guelph, Ontario, driver has watched his car slam into the Pocono Speedway wall, travelling at more than 200 mph, before careening across the track and splintering into pieces.

The jarring crash, its violence unusual even for a sport used to collisions, would change his life forever.

They call the track at Pocono in Pennsylvania The Tricky Triangle. Unlike Indianapolis or Michigan speedways, Pocono is actually not an oval, presenting drivers with three very different and difficult corners to navigate.

Ahead of the ABC Supply 500 race that August in 2018, Wickens wasn’t comfortable with the track during practice, but managed to qualify sixth and recalls feeling good about his ability to navigate the course.

“I was really confident going into that race, I was very confident; I knew exactly what I wanted to do at the start,” Wickens says.

Seven laps into the race, Wickens went to pass Ryan Hunter-Reay. Their wheels touched, sending Wickens’s car helicoptering into the fencing.

Nearly a year and half after the crash, Wickens says he would change nothing about his actions leading up to impact.

“I’ve really thought about that accident; time and time again looked at the footage,” Wickens told CBC Sports in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he is undergoing extensive therapy. “And I always think like, why couldn’t I have just maybe not tried to pass him? But I got to where I am in my career because of the type of driver that I was.

“You know, I was never just complacent and just happy where I was. I always wanted more and more and more.”

CBC’s “The National” catches up with Guelph, Ontario’s Robert Wickens 15 months after an IndyCar crash left him paralyzed from the waist down.

For Wickens, writing the great Canadian comeback story has many components, but one central goal. It’s all about readying and recalibrating his body and mind to drive a race car again.

It’s all he’s ever known. Since Wickens was a little boy growing up in Guelph he has always insisted on going fast. As a young boy, he raced go-karts, winning wherever he went, and quickly emerged as one of the best young drivers around.

When he was a teenager, his family sacrificed everything, selling their home so he could race in Europe. For the next six years, Wickens raced for the prestigious Mercedes team, competing against and beating some of the best drivers in the world.

His return to North America and the IndyCar circuit in 2017 was triumphant. In the 13 races during his rookie season, Wickens finished in the top five seven times, highlighted by an exhilarating third-place finish in Toronto.

“I was racing the best I’ve ever raced prior to the accident,” Wickens says.


Read the full article on CBC News

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