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

Pocono Superspeedway

Pocono Superspeedway has been dropped from the 2020 IndyCar schedule. I know all the reasons why…but I have to say that I loved Pocono and going to the ABC Supply 500 with my family this year.

The place was so open and inviting. When we arrived on Thursday night, we just wandered into the paddock and garage areas. The vintage IndyCars were out of the museum, and getting ready for the race track.

The four days we spent at Pocono were a real dream come true.

Seeing some of the classic roadsters made me nostalgic for the good old days of IndyCar racing that I’ve only seen in pictures, way before my time.

On our second night at the track, I met Bob. He was in a $100K motorhome parked right next to me. He was loud, brash, very American…I liked him right away. Turns out Bob Holder’s got a show on FOX Sports Radio AM 1230 & 1320 called ‘After Further Review’ broadcasting from Pocono all weekend. On Saturday morning, as my family was walking into the garage area, we met Bob again. He called me over, strapped some headphones on me, and let me join his radio show for a couple of minutes.

Thanks Bob. For an American who couldn’t tell Toronto from Ontario, you’re a good guy.

~ Chris #16 Demaras ~


Juez

Without a doubt, one of the best guys ever to work at K1 (or GPK before) is Juez. Quick with a smile or a joke, he makes the experience of visiting the track just a little better.

When Daniel was little, and racing against the big kids, Juez was protective of him. Now that Daniel is older, Juez is still super supportive. I wonder if the boss knows what a great team member Juez is.

After 5 years visiting Downsview Park, I finally got a chance to race against Juez, and show him what I really think of him! Juez, meet the wall. Wall, meet Juez.

~ Chris “#16” Demaras ~

Father and Son

Chris and Daniel are quite different. Dad is 30 years older, more than 30 pounds heavier. But they’ve both been racing for the same length of time though, having started karting at Goodwood in 2014.

So, if you’re going to race against your dad, don’t do it on public roads: take it to the track where you’ll get a medal instead of a ticket.


But apparently that never occurred to a New Jersey father and son drag-racing duo, who managed to cause a major crash in the Lincoln tunnel, connecting Manhattan to New Jersey, while racing their Corvettes.

Fred Ordine and his 25-year-old son, Chadwick, were arrested for the crash. Not only were they stupid enough to record themselves racing, and crashing, but Chadwick even fled the scene and posted the video of him and his dad crashing to his Instagram!

A sad sign of the times when people not only risk their own lives and public safety by street racing, but cannot stop themselves from putting it on social media.


Take it to the track!


Two Canadians in F1

Just look at that 2014 picture. That’s Racing Point F1 driver Lance Stroll and Williams F1 rookie NicHolas Latifi on the podium at the Florida Winter Series karting event.

Five years later, and these two men will race against each other again … in Formula 1.


Latifi, the 24 year old son of a billionaire, will enter his first season in F1. Latifi will spend his first season with Williams, despite links to McLaren, a company his father invested over £200 million in last year.

Stroll, the 21 year old son of a billionaire, will contest his 4th season in F1. After two years with Williams, Stroll made the switch to Racing Point, a team his father purchased when the old Force India team went into administration.


Canadian racers are a funny bunch. Quick to write of these two men as ‘rich kids’ who bought their rides in F1. But on the one hand, there’s the national pride of two Canadians on the grid next season (10% of the field) compared to zero Americans. And of course, the reflected glory of someone who raced at our home tracks making it to the big show. For example, the pictures below are F1 driver Nicholas Latifi (and his little brother Matthew) at Mosport Kartways and Goodwood Kartways.

REPORT: 130R Race 1

The 130R Racing Series returned for its second season at K1 Speed with 24 drivers gunning for the top spot, and Daniel looking to defend his title as the 130R Champion.

The racers went out in random groups for qualifying. Based on those times, they were divided into three groups A, B & C for their standing start races.

Dawson Campbell set the fastest qualifying time in with Daniel second and Chris further down the order. It looked as though Dawson and Daniel would go head to head once again, until the final qualifying group, when 3-time Briggs SummerFest winner and 2019 Nissan Micra Cup champion Marco Signoretti took to the track. Despite the qualifying session being Marco’s first time at K1 Speed, his lap time was only a tenth of a second off Dawson’s time, and a tenth quicker than Daniel’s time.

In the Group A final, Daniel knew he’d have to make quick work of Signoretti for a good result. Dawson got away clean at the drop of the green flag. Demaras made an attempt to pass Signoretti at turn 7 on the opening lap, but had to tuck behind the karting champ, and prepare for another attack. This wasn’t going to be easy!

After 2 laps of wheel to wheel racing action, Daniel went to Marco’s inside at turn 2, taking second place. With all that battling, and the time taken to pull off the pass, Dawson had pulled a massive gap, and though Daniel reeled him in slightly in the closing laps, victory was not to be for Daniel, finishing second.

Onto the Group B final where Chris Demaras embraced his new mean persona, after winning the “black flag award” at the recent Monday Nighters race.

Chris started his race well from fourth, making a clean getaway, and attacking for third place. He’d built a small gap behind him, but he knew the always aggressive Dale Goz would take advantage of any mistake.

Demaras set up a passing attempt at the turn 6/7 complex by moving to the inside lane. A short shoot to the next braking zone put Chris on the inside of turn 8… but the outside of turn 9. Contact with a competitor pushed Chris wide, allowing Dale to sneak past both of them! More contact in the tunnel sent Demaras further down the order, before making a last-lap pass on veteran racer Stacy E to finish 6th. Not a great result, but a strong effort.

It’s looking like a season long battle between Daniel and Dawson is in the cards, but strong racers like Ivano and Igor, plus new blood like Marco will surely make the 2019/2020 season of the 130R Racing Series competitive to the very end.

130R R1 S2

Full race report coming, but here’s a cool split screen video of Daniel Demaras’ race. Group A was very tough, with Dawson Campbell on pole and 2019 Nissan Micra Cup champion Marco Signoretti starting one position ahead of Demaras.

Racing Hero

Will Power is a racing hero to the whole Demaras Racing team. Just look at the smile on Michelle Demaras’ face when she had a chance to meet Power at Pocono this summer. Daniel Demaras runs the No.12 on his racing kart as a tribute to his racing hero.

So getting to see an Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion get back behind the wheel of a kart at the recent SuperNats23 in Las Vegas was a thrill for all Power’s fans, Demaras included.

SuperNats23 is one of the biggest karting events in North America, but it isn’t reported on by traditional media, or even motorsports websites. Power’s progress in the event was scattered across social media platforms and specialized US karting websites.

Lined up for qualifying, just like any other racer.

Well. Not the result we hoped for. 15th to 11th lap 1. Incident in turn 1 on lap 2 dropped us to 38th. @12WillPower drove his tail off back to 20th. Can’t thank the #supernats23 folks and Eric Jones and his @KartSportNA crew for having us. What a blast! Can’t wait for next year!!

MPGmotorsports

Madness

Demaras Racing visited K1 Speed over the weekend to get some practice for the upcoming 130 Racing Series season opener. But the madness on track left even seasoned racers stunned.

These guys are brothers! How severe is the competition in that house when one bother would be willing to run over the other brother’s head in an attempt to get that pass done. Sure, bug brother was blocking, and a dive bomb pass might have been dirty, but it would have got the deed done.

But to run over the other guy? That’s totally hardcore.

This has inspired Chris Demaras to create the BLACK FLAG RACE TEAM. If you’re a driver willing to get your elbows out, willing to fight for every position on track, and refuse to get pushed around…you too can join!