DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants Robert Wickens to enter the Indy 500 as early as 2024 — a year longer than expected when hand controls work for the paralyzed driver.
Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway during his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He has been driving for McLaren IndyCare ever since, but returned to racing with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai in the ImSA Michelin Driver’s Challenge last year.
At the age of 33, the Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener until Daytona) the course of the Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is suitable for Wickens to control the race properly by hand. Herta said Thursday that perfecting the technology for Indy cars in the world’s biggest race events slowed down the decision he made to play with Wickens.
I’m always hungry: Robert Wickens’ return to racing
“I would like to bring Robbie back to Indy because I know he can do it, and I think he will be on the next trip,” Herta told The Associated Press.
Herta Honda said the process is supportive, which Herta called “One of the greatest things we’ve done in racing” The last year.
“We looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, wasn’t enough,” said Herta. “That you can’t rush something. There are some things in IndyCar that we have to work very closely and get things just right. It’s a process, but I can see a way to it.”
Wickens, when the boss reported obviously about the Indy 500he grinned widely. Herta won the Indianapolis 500 as a team owner with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.
“That’s going to be fun,” he said of the Indy 500 race.
But as Hertha, Wickens said that the work is done properly and the competition is there.
“You want us to do it right. If we start now, are we ready to get the car open for testing in April? Probably,” Wicken told the AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get the proper simulators to confirm correctly.
“We all want to do our own professional work,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to make it possible to win.”
Wickens did a demonstration in 2021 in Canada, which gave him marketing promotions for paralyzed drivers and gave him another chance to drive. His entire career had led to 14 races in his Rookie IndyCar season, just three months after he won top Rookie honors in the Indianapolis 500.
When Wickens got married, he returned to racing last year and he received his firstborna son named Wesley who is infatuated with cars and a trip to Disney this week for days off Daytona International Speedway.
Wickens, who uses a car but can stand with some assistance, marks a full year of racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Driver’s Challenge race. Despite the success last season, Hertha made changes to their lineup and Wickens will be joined by Harry Gottsacker this year.
Robert Wickens in the Indy D? Bryan Herta plans to field a car for next year first appeared in NBCSports.com