The Honda Indy Toronto started off with a bang.
Robert Wickens returned to the driver’s seat for the first time in public since the August 2018 crash at Pocono that severely injured his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the waist down.
He drove his fiancee Karli Woods in a 1.786-mile parade lap with ease, thanks in part to a modified Acura NSX with special hand controls. Then, Wickens gave the command for the drivers to start their engines—“future drivers of mine, start your engines!”—before taking another parade lap.
Wickens, who has been very public about his recovery via social media, was met with cheers from fans all around the 11-turn course in Toronto. After taking practice laps ahead of Toronto, Wickens detailed his recovery to NBC Sports, talking about how he’s slowly regaining feeling in his lower body and still plans to dance at his wedding later this year.
During Lap 7 of the 2018 ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, Wickens made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay and was sent spinning into the catchfence. He was taken off the track by an ambulance and was immediately airlifted to a hospital 45 minutes away.
It was later announced that he suffered a neck fracture, fractures in both legs, fractures in both hands, fractured forearm, fractured elbow, fractured ribs, pulmonary contusion, thoracic spinal fracture and a spinal cord injury.
Back in March, Wickens made an appearance at the IndyCar season opener in his quest for the “greatest spinal cord recovery in history.”
“I don’t care what I have to do. I don’t care how hard I have to work. I’m going to come back,” he told NBC Sports ahead of St. Petersburg.
Almost a year after Pocono, Wickens maintains his enthusiasm and determination.
“This is just Phase One of many more phases to come,” Wickens said.