In 2018, IndyCar rookie sensation Robert Wickens was on top of the world. He was half of the ‘Eh Team’ with fellow Canadian racer James Hinchcliffe. Wickens nearly won his first race IndyCar at St. Petersburg, was on the podium in his home race at the Honda Indy Toronto and earned Rookie of the Year honors at the Indy 500.
Only 14 races into his IndyCar career, Wickens had a life-altering crash at Pocono Raceway, suffering spinal cord damage. Initially a paraplegic, Wickens has endured years of rehabilitation and can now stand with assistance. Wickens has also married, and welcomed the birth of his first child; his son Wesley.
Wheelchair-bound Wickens resumed his racing career in 2022 competing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, and even won two races in his Hyundai Elantra N-TCR fitted with hand controls.
News this week broke that the team Wickens races for, Bryan Herta Autusport, wants to enter Robert in the 2024 Indianapolis 500, driving a hand-controlled IndyCar. With support from Honda, Bryan Herta is confident that the technology can be perfected, allowing now 33-year-old Wickens to compete in the biggest race in the world.
“We all want to do a proper, professional effort. I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”
~ Robert Wickens, racer ~
At the 2019 Honda Indy Toronto, Wickens drove demonstration laps in an Acura NSX, showing technological advancements for paralyzed drivers. His return to racing in IMSA has been an inspiration to disabled and those without disabilities alike.
But IndyCar racing is on a different level than other motorsports. Time will tell if technological advancements have come far enough for a racer as determined as Wickens will be able to compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.