Canadian Robert Wickens to drive parade lap at Toronto Honda Indy


Auto Racing legend Mario Andretti, left, talks with Robert Wickens at the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg auto race. (Dirk Shadd/AP)

For the first time in almost 11 months, Robert Wickens will drive on a racetrack at the upcoming Honda Indy Toronto.

The Canadian announced on Twitter that he will lead the parade lap ahead of the IndyCar race with some help from Arrow Electronics and his Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team.

The 30-year-old driver has been recovering from spinal cord injuries after a devastating crash at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 19, 2018. During the incident, he suffered a thoracic spinal fracture, a spinal cord injury, a neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, fractured right forearm, a fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion.

The Guelph, Ont., native will drive in a modified Acura NSX, which features a throttle on a ring around the steering wheel along with a hand-operated brake.

“I had this idea in January, and spoke with Arrow and they were very interested because this is a demonstration of what they do — using technology to improve people’s lives,” Wickens told David Malsher of AutoSport.

Wickens also said he has been driving on the road since the accident to get his hand-control certifications, but hopes to one day to get one or both of his legs to the point where he doesn’t need to those modifications.

“Obviously, I can sit and drive a race car with hand controls. But the dream is to get both legs to where I don’t need hand controls, and if I’m able to get both legs back to that extent, it means I’m walking. That’s the end goal,” Wickens said.

“At the same time, I don’t want to rush anything because life is more important than work, and so getting a better long-term future is smarter than getting back into a racecar too soon.”

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