Wickens Happy To Be Back Behind The Wheel

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Robert Wickens turned his first laps in a car since being injured in a crash last year at Pocono Raceway. (IndyCar Photo)
Robert Wickens turned his first laps in a car since being injured in a crash last year at Pocono Raceway. (IndyCar Photo)

TORONTO – Injured NTT IndyCar Series driver Robert Wickens got a chance to drive Thursday for the first time since his massive crash at Pocono Raceway last August.

Wickens turned laps in a specially-modified Acura NSX Thursday and will drive the same car on a parade lap before Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

Wickens also revealed that he continues to make progress in his physical recovery from a spinal injury suffered in the horrific crash on Aug. 19, 2018.

“There is always steady progress,” Wickens said. “I haven’t woken up one day and had this miraculous gain, but I think little by little, we’re getting there, we’re getting a little bit stronger – well, quite a bit stronger I would say.

“In terms of new nerves firing, it’s funny, sometimes you don’t really notice, but something will be moving, and you’re like, when did that start moving, I don’t remember that. A couple months ago I started gaining some feeling in my abdominal area, and I just kind of one time just itched my stomach and realized that I felt it, but I just didn’t – I have no idea how long, if it was that day that I noticed it or it might have been there for weeks.

“Luckily I haven’t hit that plateau yet. I’m hoping I never will. And if it does, it’s years down the road because there’s people that defy odds. They always say that nerve regeneration is the first 24 months of a spinal cord injury, but then I know speaking to a lot of patients from Craig Hospital where I was rehabbing, the fact that people find their biggest gains four and five years afterwards because they finally start training really hard or they finally get stronger. Anything is possible with this injury. So, I think it’s not easy, but hopefully we can keep on keeping on.”

The next goal for Wickens is to dance at his wedding when he marries Karli Woods later this year.

“Like I said in March, I’ll confidently say I’ll be able to stand there, and then jokingly like that wouldn’t have been much different than if I wasn’t injured in the first place,” Wickens said of his dancing ability. “Hopefully we can sway a little bit. She might have to take the lead, and I’ll just drag behind her.

“But we’ll figure something out.”

The Guelph, Ontario, native will take the next step in his rehabilitation when he takes the modified Acura NSX on a parade lap prior to Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto. His fiancé, Karli Woods, will be by his side in the passenger seat.

“This was the longest I’ve not driven anything since I was seven years old,” Wickens said in an introductory video shot after his initial drive on Thursday. “It definitely felt like freedom. It was something that finally felt familiar to me.

“Braking points, hitting an apex, bouncing over curbs; it all felt the same. It was fun to figure that stuff out and I’m really excited to keep this project going and see where it takes us.

“This is just phase one of many more phases to come.”

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