Wickens hopes to race again after fiery IndyCar crash, spinal injury

Image: AFP / Jared C. Tilton
Image: AFP / Jared C. Tilton
Jared C Tilton

Canadian Robert Wickens, who suffered a major spinal cord injury in a fiery crash last year, hopes to walk at his wedding in September and some day return to IndyCar racing.

Wickens gave an update Friday on his condition and recovery from the crash last August at Pocono, where he suffered spinal fractures, and broken legs, hands and ribs, as well as a fractured elbow and forearm.

The crash left him a paraplegic, Wickens revealed in October, but he has been working to recover literally one step at a time.

"Getting the first muscle flick back in October, whenever that was, was huge," he said.

"As I was getting a little better, now that I'm getting up on my feet, I think it's putting into perspective -- 'Oh, my God, he's standing' -- then taking steps, kind of getting better.

"The big thing for me is right now they always told me kind of the six- to 12-month frame is where you'll see the most progression. I'm kind of right at the beginning of that. Hopefully I didn't peak too soon. Hopefully I'm still in that prime spot."

Wickens, 29, wants to walk for his wedding, joking that his dancing was never the best, even in healthier days -- although he can wiggle a bit.

The goal of returning to IndyCar will take much more work.

"We won't know till I try it to see if it's a reality," Wickens said.

"Anything is possible. I know I'm a hard worker, analytical. I think I could get on top of hand controls. My only fear is that I always wanted to be on the same level that I left off. I don't want to be just a driver in the field. I want to be one competing to win the podiums."

Wickens won the pole last year at the season opener at St. Petersburg, where the drivers are back to open the 2019 campaign.

"One step at a time. It's basically all I can say. We're making progress," Wickens said. "The thing with a spinal injury is you never know when that day comes where you won't progress any more. I think right now we're trying to utilize every day we can to get as healthy as I can."

Support from fans and other racers has helped inspire Wickens on the road to recovery.

"From the motorsport world, all the drivers, big names, small names, every post I make, every progression I do, they're right there behind me motivating me, reassuring me that I can do it," Wickens said.

"When those drivers kind of reach out to you, you want to do it even more. I want to finish this journey not just for myself but for the whole motorsports community."

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