Robert Wickens: An Inspiration

IndyCar driver Robert Wickens has a long way to go, however he has already inspired us all throughout his journey since his devastating crash at Pocono Raceway during the ABC Supply 500.

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Robert Wickens: An Inspiration
Fuente imagen: IndyCar

August 19th, 2018. The ABC Supply 500 is scheduled to be ran at Pocono Raceway, arguably the most daunting track on the IndyCar circuit. Everybody is nervous, the drivers, the team owners, the fans. Very little preparation was done ahead of the race due to weather, the track is green, and nobody has a setup that would make anyone feel comfortable.

Robert Wickens, a "rookie", had a great if not phenominal qualifying run the date before, starting 6th. But that was the end of the celebration for the weekend, however nobody knew what would happen.

The green flag dropped, breifly at the beginning of the race, with Graham Rahal running into the back of Ed Carpenter Racing's Spencer Pigot before even reaching start finish to bring out the 1st yellow flag. Everything got cleaned up, some cars took a pit stop, and all seemed calm after the potential 7 to 8 wide on the start was seemingly avoided. The green flag dropped again, and the main mover through the first turn, Wickens, going around the outside. He had a run, and his intent was to make a move on the inside of Ryan Hunter-Reay going into turn 2, however his draft was strong enough, and that is when it happened.

Hunter-Reay didn't realize that Wickens wasn't clear on the inside, tapping Wicken's right front, causing Hunter-Reay to spin. That all seemed routine. However the camera angle changed...and we saw Wickens, flying into the catch fence at 200 miles per hour, spinning 3 complete times after hitting the posts before hitting the ground spinning like a top.

Silence, Shaking, Praying

Those are the only 3 words to describe the next hour. For about 10 minutes after the crash, I was shaking, in shock, along with the rest of the IndyCar fanbase, wondering if I had just watched someone get killed. The rest of that hour, was praying. Praying for the best rookie in IndyCar since Nigel Mansell, and asking for Robert to be alright while ignoring some of the speculation. 

Enter Curt Cavin, Vice President of Communications for the IndyCar Series, to tell the world the news. It wasn't much, but it was enough. A confirmation that Wickens was indeed alive and alert, and that was all that mattered at the moment. An audible cheer escaped from the Pocono grandstands, along with relief, as it seemed massive weights were taken off of everyone's shoulders. Robert was alright, or so it seemed. But all we knew was that he was alive, and that was all that mattered.

Alexander Rossi went on to win the race in dominant fasion, after repairs were done to the catchfence the rest of the race went uninterrupted, and acted more or less as an IndyCar therapy session after what had just occured.

Later that night, after the race. It was revealed that Wickens had significant injuries, including a spinal cord injury, which isn't uncommon in the types of accidents Robert had just been in. However given the lack of knowledge on what "spinal cord injury" means, there was confusion when he posted a video on his instagram story that showed he had some upper leg muscle movement. That video caused a lot of people to assume that he would be walking sooner rather than later, which is really anything but the truth, as later he posted a video where he was doing his first transfer as  a parapeligic, which led to even more confusion. Consistant clarification and re-clarification from Karli (Wicken's fiance) and Robert seemed unnecesary, however understandable. Robert was paralyzed from the chest down the moment he hit the fence at Pocono, and the road back to 100% is doable, but not probable. 

In Robert's clarification message, he put out the plan that he could potentially be walking in two years, however it isn't certain. Recovering from paralysis, depending on the improvement rate, can either be very doable or nigh on impossible, and most of the time is the latter. Wickens continues to work, and per his social media posts, continues to see improvement, but is still a very long way off. 

All we know really, is that he is trying, and he does not plan to give up, because that is not what racers do. All we know really, is that he aims to come back BETTER than he was before, FASTER on the track (if that's even possible), and STRONGER than ever. All we know really, is that he will.

Get Well Wickens

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