Robert Wickens, IndyCar, 2018

Full extent of Wickens’ spine injury may not be known for “months”


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The full extent of the injuries Robert Wickens suffered to his spinal cord in his violent Pocono 500 crash may not be known for “months” according to those treating him.

A statement issued by his Schmidt Peterson motorsport team on Thursday confirm he had further surgery at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis this week.

“Wickens is expected to be transferred to a rehabilitation center in the coming days to begin the recovery process,” it said.

“The severity of the spinal cord injury he sustained in the incident remains indeterminate and under evaluation. Physicians stress it could take weeks or months for the full effects of the injury to be known.”

His family said it wished to correct reports from “unverified sources” which “immediately following Robert’s accident inaccurately and without permission portrayed his condition as less than severe.”

“In an effort to remain transparent and open, we are providing a list of Robert’s injuries to truly showcase the severity of what our son/brother/fiancee/friend/team mate has gone through and will be recovering from in the months to come.”

Wickens’ injuries include a thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, pulmonary contusion plus fractures to his neck, tibia and fibula in both legs, both hands, right forearm, elbow and four ribs.

“We want to thank everyone for the outpouring of love, prayers and positive energy that has been sent our way since Robert’s accident,” his family added. “We are blown away by the strength of this IndyCar community and the support within it.

Fence, Pocono, IndyCar, 2018
Wickens’ car was launched into a debris fence
“While Robert’s recovery and rehabilitation continue over the coming weeks and months, your loving messages will certainly be a source of encouragement for him.”

Schmidt Peterson co-owners Ric Peterson and Sam Schmidt said: “The IndyCar community has been nothing but supportive the last few weeks.

“We are grateful for their support as well as the exceptional care given to Robert by the AMR IndyCar safety team, the IndyCar medical staff, the surgeons and nursing staff at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest and everyone at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

“While Robert continues his recovery, we want to make it clear that the number six entry is for Robert Wickens and him only. No matter the amount of time it takes for his full recovery, we will hold that seat for him.

“Carlos Munoz, the named driver for the last two events on the 2018 calendar is doing a great job for us to keep the number six owner championship points alive, and we very much appreciate all the hard work he’s putting into helping us finish the season.”

“The road to Robert’s recovery will be a long and tough one, but we hope you’ll be alongside us cheering him on. Better. Stronger. Faster.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 14 comments on “Full extent of Wickens’ spine injury may not be known for “months””

    1. Well, I wish him, and them, all the best in what surely must be a tough time, and hope we will see him walking, and racing again.

      1. Well Said !!

    2. Damn.. Thank you for posting the article. Sounds a lot worse than some where reporting. Really hopes he pulls through without paralysis.

    3. Forza Maldonado
      6th September 2018, 22:42

      I really hope he’s able to make a full recovery, even if he can’t race again. It’ll be a long, hard road to recovery but I know he can do it.

    4. Sounds like he won’t be racing again – spinal injuries are not to be trifled with. Very sad. Hope they change the fencing now, surely it will have to happen for legal reasons.

    5. For all the argument over safety at ovals, it’s the street and road courses that have done a lot more damage over the years.

      (If you’re not averse to watching, just search Jeff Krosnoff)

      1. Krosnoff died in 1996. 22 years ago. Do you have more recent statistics? Going to 1996 and then back to this year there have been 8 deaths in indycar. 2 were on road courses and 6 on ovals.

        1. @socksolid Of the 6 deaths on ovals, How many were caused due to it been on an oval though?

          Wilson’s accident was just as likely on a road/street circuit (Hit by debris) as was Paul Dana’s (Was similar to what happened to Billy Monger last year) & Scott Brayton’s (Same injury that killed Ratzenberger among others).
          Moore’s was due to an access road launching the car at the wrong angle.

          Wheldon’s was also more down to the sort of pack racing they were doing at the time.

          In the case of Wilson & Dana the caution had come out, They had slowed down & were doing speeds no faster than is seen on most road circuits (Think Wilson was doing less than 100mph when he got hit). Even Wheldon’s was at lower speeds as he had braked & slowed to I think around 170mph when he got launched.

          1. I agree about Wilson’s accident. It’s only by the slimmest of margins that Massa didn’t suffer the same fate. And as you say, none of the others are accidents that happen exclusively on ovals. But I do think the odds of them happening are indeed increased on an oval.

            I certainly hope that an alternative to catch fences can be found. And that Las Vegas race was ill-conceived from the beginning.

            But as an IndyCar fan, I also accept that even though there is room for improvement, ovals will always be intrinsically more dangerous than road courses. And I am not sympathetic to much of the broad criticism of ovals that springs up every time something like this happens. The drivers choose to compete in a discipline that has inherent dangers. Why do we not criticize the Isle of Man, or mountain climbing, or BASE jumping for their safety records? Because we accept that the participants accept the risk and indeed, find fulfillment in it. While we can always aim for better safety, I also I think we should accord oval racers the same respect.

    6. Hoping for the best! Hope he walks and races again.

    7. I’ll probably get flak for saying this, but IndyCar should really think about re-designing oval circuits (even road courses) by introducing run-off areas between the circuit and the outside walls. Doing so would not only prevent aggravating the impact of an accident/collision to racing drivers, but would also provide more safety to spectators, marshals and team personnel as well.

      It’s the 21st century. Run-off areas were invented for a reason. I understand it may detract from the “danger” of motor racing, which makes up a part of its glamour. But that’s still miles better than seeing someone get seriously injured or lose their life. Humans weren’t built to travel (and crash) at 200+mph….
      And certainly it will not detract from the difficulty of driving a racing car, yet alone being competitive in one.

      To prevent drivers from “exceeding track limits”, the stewards will just have to implement and enforce a strict “no-wheel(s) beyond the white lines” policy. Something I’m sure will be simpler/easier to police Stateside, due to its racing being less political and cheeky.

      I personally love seeing F1 cars exceed track limits (e.g. Raikkonen v. Barrichello, Austria 2003), but I did understand Charlie Whiting’s point during the time he (briefly) cracked down on drivers purposely running wide. Run-offs are meant for safety, they only ever become an advantage when the rule makers allow them to be.

      1. Despite my comment above defending the risk of ovals, I think you have a good point. Lots of short dirt tracks lack walls and fences, and simply have lots of space to run off into.

        You could also create natural runoffs that wouldn’t need to be enforced by a white line by having regressive banking that flattens out near the walls, so that no car would try to run there at speed. And you could use the sort of abrasive surface that Paul Ricard uses to slow them down.

      2. The problem, as always, is cost and practicality.

        If you add a run off perimeter, you make the size of the track and infield smaller. If you want to retain the same size track, you’d have to demolish and rebuild spectator areas and the areas behind that.

        Also, if a car gets airborne it will spend longer in the air before it gets to a catch fence and who knows what position it will hit, or if it sails right over.

        I’m not convinced that open wheeled, open cockpitted cars belong on oval circuits but it would be a shame for fans of such racing if it were banned outright.

        1. Precisely the dilemma. To re-design the ovals, the fencing etc would cost millions… How do you safely stop / catch a flying car traveling 220 mph? No one has a better fencing design at the moment. Racing is a dangerous business. Especially on IndyCar Super Speedways averaging speeds F1 cars achieve only for brief moments.

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