Wickens leads emotional Honda Indy Toronto warm-up lap almost year after crash
Canada's Robert Wickens made an emotional return to IndyCar racing on Sunday.
Almost a year after a horrific crash left Wickens a paraplegic, the 30-year-old from Guelph, Ont., led the warm-up lap for Honda Indy Toronto in an Acura NSX that's been modified with hand controls.
"Honestly I'm just over the moon with how crazy this is . . . this is just incredible," Wickens told NBC before getting into his car. "It's going to feel like I won the race."
A huge roar erupted from the Exhibition Place crowd as Wickens, with his fiancee Karli Woods in the passenger seat, took off. Woods stifled several screams while the duo tore around the track.
Wickens had joked that how fast he would go would be dictated by "Karli's screaming" and how her stomach was handling the speed.
"Hopefully we can give it a good run, and enjoy the moment. We've been through so much together," Wickens said.
Wickens also gave the start command, saying: "Future drivers of mine, start your engines!" — a nod to perhaps owning his own team one day.
Wickens was having one of the most dominant rookie seasons in IndyCar history, reeling off seven top-five finishes including a thrilling third place in Toronto at this time last year before he crashed at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 19.
WATCH | Wickens crashes at Pocono Raceway:
Wickens was travelling around 184 miles an hour and trying to pass Ryan Hunter-Reay when the two cars slightly touched. Hunter-Reay's car careened into the wall. Wickens' car soared over Hunter-Reay's and into the fence, spinning around like top as it exploded into pieces, leaving just the tub that came to rest on the track.
Wickens, who uses a wheelchair, suffered a thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, fractured right forearm, fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion.