Robert Wickens was poised to be the next big thing in the NTT IndyCar Series before his career was cut short in 2018 by a horror wreck at Pocono that resulted in spinal cord injuries. The next five years presented challenges but also a new hope when he resumed racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in 2022 for Bryan Herta Autosport. With his career back on track, he and Herta are curious about if a return to IndyCar is possible.
During an IMSA press conference on Thursday, Herta and Wickens both expressed interest in having the latter race the 2024 Indianapolis 500. Herta, a two-time 500-winning owner, told the Associated Press he “know(s) [Robbie] could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”
Due to his injuries leaving him paralyzed below the waist, his IMSA Hyundai Elantra N TCR features a hand control system that transfers all power from foot pedals to paddles and the steering wheel. Whenever Wickens rotates out for Mark Wilkins, the latter toggles a switch to re-enable foot controls.
Such a system might be harder to achieve in an open-wheel car due to its tighter confines, but Wickens and company are willing to try. Wickens noted the effort had been considered for the 2023 500 but was delayed a year as development continues.
If the effort goes as planned, BHA will also make their return to IndyCar after last fielding a standalone entry in 2015 for Gabby Chaves. Sponsorship troubles led to the team merging with Andretti Autosport, for whom Herta’s son Colton races, in 2016. The older Herta won the Indy 500 with Dan Wheldon in 2011 and Alexander Rossi in 2016.
“Some news came out today about the potential for an #Indy500 entry in 2024,” Wickens later tweeted. “My goal since my accident has always been to get back to the very top level of motorsport. Whether that will be INDYCAR, IMSA or some other form of racing, only time will tell.
“I’m incredibly thankful for what @Hyundai has done for me in my road to recovery and am proud to wear their logo each weekend. @BryanHerta has been in my corner since day 1 and I look forward to working with him to continue to challenge what’s possible.”
In his first season back behind a race car, he and Wilkins won twice at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
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