Bryan Herta wants to run paralyzed racer Robert Wickens in 2024 Indianapolis 500

DAYTONA Beach, Fla. — Bryan Herta want to enter Robert Wickens in the Indianapolis 500 as early as 2024 — a year later than expected as work continues on the hand controls needed for paralyzed drivers.

Wickens suffered a spinal injury in a crash at the Pocono Raceway during his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He has worked as a driving coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since then, but he returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races driving the Wickens-equipped Hyundai Elantra N TCR to race entirely via manual control. Herta said on Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the world’s biggest race is a project he’s determined to work on with Wickens.

“I’d love to bring Robbie back to Indy because I know he can do it and I think that will be his next step in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We spent a lot of time looking at the logistics of things, the manual controls, and I think we have a solution for that.”

Herta said Honda assisted with the process.

“We actually considered doing it this year, but the logistics, the timing, wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “It’s not something you can rush. There are some things we have to work very closely with IndyCar and things we have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see the path. lead to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That would be fun,” Wickens said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort must be done precisely and competitively.

“We want to do it the right way. If we start now, can we get a car ready for open testing in April? Probably,” Wickens told the AP. . “But I don’t know where the systems will be, and I want to use the right simulators to make sure it’s working correctly.

“We all want to make a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 conducted a demonstration in Canada to market advances for paralyzed drivers and give him a chance to drive again. His entire life spanned 14 races during his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning the top rookie title at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens is married, back to racing and welcoming the birth of his first child, a son named Wesley, who is passionate about racing cars and with a trip to Disney he made this week. during the holidays at the Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who is wheelchair-accessible but can stand with some assistance, will mark his one-year return to racing on Friday in the season’s inaugural IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. Despite last season’s success, Herta has made changes to her roster and this year’s Wickens will be side by side with Harry Gottsacker.


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