IndyCar: Robert Wickens gets back on track at Toronto

Robert Wickens during the press conference ahead of the 2019 Honda Indy Toronto race. © Joe Skibinski

A little over a year ago, Canada’s Robert Wickens was involved in a devastating crash in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. 

After his No. 6 SPM Honda made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Wickens was sent flying into the catch-fence. 

Consequently, many were unsure if Wickens would ever walk again, let alone get back behind the wheel of a race car. 

But that is exactly what he will be doing this weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto. In front of his home crowd, Wickens will lead the field to green in a modified Acura NSX.

Robert Wickens will drive the modified Acura NSX at the start of Honda Indy Toronto. © Job Skibinski

The Canadian’s NSX will be equipped with a special hand-throttle and braking system courtesy of Arrow Electronics.

“I’ve had this dream for so long to get back, and this was the target to get the car ready for Toronto,” Wickens said to a packed media room on Friday.

And it was only fitting that it’s the Honda Indy Toronto, and it’s my home race. It was kind of the perfect fit.”

Wickens’ return to the track in front of thousands of Canadian fans is sure to be emotional. This moment will be even more special, as the 30-year old will have his fiance, Karli Woods, alongside him.

How far off is Wickens’ from an IndyCar return?

Despite the fact Wickens’ rehabilitation program is far from complete, the Canadian racer is eager to return to racing as soon as possible.

Driving the pace-car in Sunday’s race will be an important step towards his ambitions of returning to IndyCar.

The technology on-board the Acura NSX will play a key part in allowing Wickens’ return to IndyCar. 

“We wanted to start this now with Robert, so we can be a part of his rehab together with our friends at Honda and get Robbie back to racing,” said Mark Long, President and CEO of Arrow Electronics.

“That’s what he [Wickens] wants, and we’re going to be there to support that effort all the way.”

Wickens has stressed his ultimate goal is to regain full use of his legs. Despite this, the hand-throttle technology could enable him to drive an IndyCar sooner rather than later. 

A similar system was used by former IndyCar Champion Alessandro Zanardi in this year’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.