“I’m so lucky,” says Wickens as he thanks fans for support

In a press conference at his home IndyCar race at Toronto, Robert Wickens has spoken movingly of how he appreciates the support from his network of friends and fans because some of his fellow spinal cord injury patients are less fortunate.

“I’m so lucky,” says Wickens as he thanks fans for support

Wickens, who this weekend is piloting an Arrow Electronics-modified Acura NSX equipped with hand controls and will lead the parade lap for the Honda Indy Toronto, said that the ongoing rehab from his huge Pocono accident last August has been “a huge eye-opener” for him.

“I have a whole new perspective on life,” he declared. “The biggest thing for me is when I was in rehab every single day, it was the support that I had from my racing partners, from my family, from [fiancée] Karli, from all the fans, from everyone that kind of was getting me there to the gym the next day…

“When I was at rehab, I was just patient 31265, and then you get to become friends with these patients and you hear their story, and then I get back to my place at the end of the day and I kind of think, ‘Man, I'm so lucky that I have such great support everywhere.’ If I'm having a bad day, all my fans can just come and pick me up where anyone else can easily get into this big spiral and get into some depression.

“It's just been quite the ride, and we're not even one year in of what's going to be a very long recovery. But hopefully I can keep on driving because I think that's the best therapy I can have, and I'm a little bit concerned by how eager I am to get back in the car, especially after driving yesterday.

“I was always having this – it's kind of like the angel and the devil on each shoulder because once I get back into racing full-time, the rehab is almost going to be sidelined, and then I need to figure out at what point I am OK to start driving again and almost give up on rehabbing.

“That's a future problem. Right now we can just focus on this event and how fun it's going to be.”

Describing the fan support he’d encountered already, he stated: “It's phenomenal. The support that I got from this race last year was a crazy, crazy experience. When I look back on my season, this race was the highlight of my year. It wasn't the Indy 500, it wasn't my first podium in Phoenix, it was this one, just because it was my first home race in 12 years, and to get on the podium and to feel the home support, again, for the first time in so long, it was just incredible.

“And then to be honest, since I've been back, since post-injury, every race I've been to has almost had that same atmosphere. Everyone is just so supportive of me in my recovery to get back, and the IndyCar fans are some of the best in the business, and they're so loyal and they're so passionate.

“Like I touched on before, it's them that really kind of picked me up on my down days, and being here, seeing so many hats and shirts is -- it makes me want to get back. I want those guys to have a reason to wear the shirt, not to make it a pajama shirt or something!”

Arrow “won’t stop” until Wickens is back in an IndyCar

Mike Long, chairman, president and CEO of Arrow stated that the company will carry on working on a modified hand control systems to allow Wickens to return to IndyCar – but said the series would have to make some concessions.

He said: “[The system] is very adaptable. In fact, what we try to do at Arrow is not come up with complex technology that's not going to be suitable. We're showing off this technology because this technology could be for anybody in the world with Robbie's problem to get back on the road with a car and drive their own way.

“So that's really what drives us – trying to do good. We will continue to develop this all the way back to the Indy car for Robert, whatever he may need, and there will be certain pressures that I'm sure will be put on IndyCar to allow it to happen.

“It's no different than golf or other sports where you've seen people with certain handicaps being able to compete with people that don't have them, and we think this is nothing different.

“So I'm totally convinced we can put Robert back in a car. It will be possible for him to drive, and we won't stop until he gets there.”

 

Photo by: Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

shares
comments
Toronto IndyCar: Pagenaud leads Rosenqvist in FP2

Previous article

Toronto IndyCar: Pagenaud leads Rosenqvist in FP2

Next article

Toronto IndyCar: Pagenaud leads third practice as rookies shine

Toronto IndyCar: Pagenaud leads third practice as rookies shine
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Toronto
Drivers Robert Wickens
Teams Arrow McLaren SP , Arrow SPM
Author David Malsher-Lopez
Colton Herta – America's next racing hero Prime

Colton Herta – America's next racing hero

Last Sunday, Colton Herta demolished his IndyCar opposition in the second round of the season. David Malsher-Lopez explains why Andretti Autosport’s youngest ace bears all the hallmarks of becoming the country’s next homegrown motorsport hero.

IndyCar
Apr 29, 2021
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Apr 21, 2021
Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car? Prime

Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car?

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indy car game-changer that won three Indy 500s in six years.

IndyCar
Dec 23, 2020