After a massive crash on the 7th lap of the 2018 Pocono 500 mile IndyCar race, Robert Wickens was left paralyzed and it has been an incredibly long road to recovery for the talented Canadian driver. Through physical therapy and a lot of hard work on his part, Wickens has gotten to the point where he can do things previously thought improbable. Tomorrow, Wickens will drive a specially equipped Acura NSX with hand controls in the lead up to the IndyCar race in Toronto. An amazing feat, by anyone’s measure.
Through his social media accounts, I’ve watched Wickens work his ass off to get back into fighting fit shape. His upper body strength is gradually returning, and he’s now working on getting his leg and back muscles to return after a year of atrophy. While the surgeries and PT continue, it’s a massive step forward to see Wickens in a car again.
With Schmidt Peterson Motorsports backing, and team sponsorship from Arrow Electronics, the Acura NSX was converted to run with hand controls, which you can see a bit in the Twitter video above. Arrow also helped build a Chevrolet Corvette with special controls for team boss Sam Schmidt, who is paralyzed from the neck down, to accelerate and decelerate by sucking and blowing on an air tube and steering with the motion of his head.
Through all of this, Wickens’ optimism has been inspirational, and I hope to see him back in a race car soon. At this rate, I would not be surprised to see him in a GT car as soon as next season. Don’t forget, BMW built an M8 GTLM car for Alex Zanardi to race without legs at the Daytona 24 last January. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And Wickens definitely has the will.