IndyCar

Robert Wickens vows to walk again, further clarifies his paralysis

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Robert Wickens knows he has a long road ahead of him after being rendered a paraplegic from injuries sustained in a horrific crash early in the ABC Supply 500 IndyCar race August 19 at Pocono Raceway.

The 29-year-old Canadian driver also knows the strong concern from his fans, media and the IndyCar community and how supportive they are for his recovery, rehabilitation and well-being.

Wickens publicly revealed for the first time late Thursday night on his Instagram account the extent of the spinal cord injury he suffered in the race, admitting he is a paraplegic, paralyzed from his chest down.

MORE: IndyCar: Robert Wickens reveals he’s paralyzed from vicious August crash

But Wickens is not letting his present condition impact his optimism for a better future condition.

One day after his Instagram post, Wickens took to Twitter to give further clarification on what he’s going through and what the future potentially holds.

Wickens vows in his lengthy tweet to walk again:

So we cannot tell you a definitive answer if I will walk again. But I have full intentions of doing just that.

Here’s the full text from Wickens’ most recent tweet:

“I just wanted to clarify a few things. There seems to be some confusion about what the word ‘paraplegic’ really means. Please read my statement below. Thank you all for your amazing support! You’re all a big part in helping me get back on my feet!

“There was no ‘announcement’ to confirm I was paralyzed. I’ve been paralyzed the moment I hit the fence pole in Pocono. We were very clear that I had a spinal cord injury in the press release issued by SPM (Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports), but I guess people are not aware of what that means and are just speculating.

“Paralyzed & paraplegic are paralysis from the level of injury on the lower half. I’m paralyzed from the chest down. The level of my injury which is T4.

“People may not be paraplegics forever. Since my spinal cord injury was ‘incomplete’ the nerves may be able to find a way back to my legs. Incomplete means the spinal cord was not severed, it was only bruised. In months time the swelling will go down and we will learn more on how much nerve regeneration happens.

“The doctors have told us every SCI (spinal cord injury) is different. Two people with the same injury may heal differently. One may walk again and one may not. Each body heals differently. So we cannot tell you a definitive answer if I will walk again. But I have full intentions of doing just that.

“The good news is, I already have most feeling and some movement back in my legs, so there is hope over the course of 24 months that I may regain enough movement to walk again! So far the signs are promising, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself! I am just keeping my head down and working until my therapist and doctors tell me to stop!

“Thank you for all your support! And I hope this has brought some clarity on all of this.

“PS – Sorry for the long read.”

Here is Wickens’ actual tweet:

Wickens was injured when his race car touched wheels with the car of Ryan Hunter-Reay. The impact sent Wickens’ Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda airborne and into the Turn 2 catchfence at Pocono Raceway.

Wickens’ car bounced off the fencing, spun several times in mid-air before landing on the racetrack, and ultimately came to rest against the interior retaining wall.

After a lengthy and careful extrication process, Wickens was airlifted to Lehigh Valley – Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Upon examination, it was determined Wickens had suffered a spinal cord injury, thoracic spinal fracture, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, four broken ribs, a broken right forearm, a broken elbow, fractures in both hands and a pulmonary contusion.

Wickens remained in the Allentown hospital for nearly two weeks before being moved to a hospital in Indianapolis. At both hospitals, he underwent several surgeries to treat his injuries.

He subsequently was moved to a rehabilitation facility near the Indianapolis hospital, and according to The Associated Press on Friday, has recently been relocated to another rehab facility in Colorado.

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Don’t know the Rolex 24? You should. Here’s why.

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Hello, America. It’s time to go racing again.

Yes, Supercross is now three weeks into its season, and the Chili Bowl Nationals is now effectively the Christopher Bell Invitational after the young NASCAR star won his 3rd consecutive Golden Driller last weekend.

But the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the first marquee event on the American racing calendar – an event that just happens to have international prestige.

It’s also the start of Daytona Speedweeks, which culminates with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. But this is no mere opening act just warming up the crowd for the headliner.

In case you’re new to this event, here are a few reasons why it stands out:

Twice around the clock: Are you the kind of person that appreciates a challenge? Well, challenges don’t get much bigger in motorsports than a 24-hour endurance race where drivers, crews, machines, and strategies must work together flawlessly. For those behind the wheel in the Rolex 24, the obstacles are numerous: Punishing G-forces, extreme mental focus, lack of sleep, and staying on top of hydration and nutrition.

Star power: Speaking of those behind the wheel, the Rolex 24 traditionally draws top drivers from other disciplines such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR to join sports car regulars from North America and around the world. As a result, the winners’ list is a Who’s Who of Motorsports.

This year’s field includes a clutch of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, highlighted by 5-time series champion and past Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon. But pre-race buzz has centered on two particular interlopers: Alex Zanardi, the former CART champion making his first North American start since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, and Fernando Alonso, the two-time F1 champion looking to add another endurance triumph alongside his win with Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Cool cars: If you’re a gearhead, the Rolex 24 is a 200-mile-per-hour candy store. Across the four separate classes of competition, 13 of the world’s premier car manufacturers are represented.

The majority of those manufacturers are found in the Grand Touring classes that feature vehicles based on road-going production models. Chevy and Ford’s eternal rivalry rages on in the factory-backed GT Le Mans, but the class also boasts efforts from BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari. It’s even more diverse in the pro-am GT Daytona, where Porsche is joined by Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes.

As for the exotic, purpose-built Daytona Prototypes, they are powered by engines from Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan.

Nifty fifty: This year’s Rolex 24 begins the 50th anniversary season for IMSA, the sanctioning body for North American sports car racing. A select group of teams will mark the occasion at the Rolex 24 by running historic IMSA paint schemes on their machines. You may not be familiar with these looks, but it’s worth discovering the history behind them.

Here’s an example. The Starworks Motorsports team (GT Daytona) will carry a scheme based on Audi of America’s 90 Quattro from the 1989 IMSA GTO season. Boasting sports car legends Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the driver lineup, the 90 Quattro captured 7 GTO wins that season.

Audi’s performance led one competitor to create a “no passing” sticker with Stuck’s face on it. Stuck’s response: A doll fixed to his car’s rear window that dropped its pants to moon anyone Stuck put behind him.

Status symbol: Last but not least, the Rolex 24 has a unique prize – a trophy you can wear.

Winners get a standard cup, but what they’re really after are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches, which include a special engraving to commemorate their victory. A standard version of this watch retails for tens of thousands of dollars, but you can’t put a price on the ones awarded at the Rolex 24.

This year’s grand marshal, 5-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett, sums it up as “the ultimate reward.”

“To be presented a watch engraved with the word ‘Winner’ after 24 hours of intense racing is a moment that lives with you forever,” he added. “Your Rolex is a constant reminder of the perseverance and hard work that goes into succeeding at the highest level.”