Robert Wickens has had quite a few phone calls and text messages from family members and friends ahead of Sunday’s Honda Indy in Toronto.
The 29-year-old driver from Guelph will be racing on home soil for the first time in over a decade and his cheering squad from his hometown plan on being there.
“I know I got a bunch of friends coming — they actually rented a school bus to head down,” Wickens said in a phone interview. “Lots of friends and family, the fiance’s friends and family.”
“If I were to put a number on it, I would say it’s probably around 150 to 200 people coming that I know of.”
Wickens is in his IndyCar Series rookie season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, but he had been previously competing in Europe for over 10 years.
BELOW: Robert Wickens speaks with CJOY News reporter Matt Carty
He said the lead up to Sunday’s race about 90 minutes from his home has been exciting, but he’s learning on the fly how to keep his emotions in check.
“I’ve never done a Honda Indy as a professional driver. I raced here in 2007 as a kid in one of the junior categories,” Wickens explained. “Doing it now as a professional driver, it’s going to be a whole other level, but I have a good group of people around me.”
The Honda Indy presents a unique challenge for drivers who will be racing on the streets of Toronto around The Exhibition grounds. The course includes stretches of Princess Boulevard and Lake Shore Boulevard.
Wickens said those who make the commute into Toronto might regularly feel those bumps, but it’s a significant difference in a car going 180 mph that is less than a centimetre off the ground.
“We get into different surfaces,” he said. “Some corners have concrete on them. Even when you’re going over some crosswalks and things like that, it’s all just things that everyday life you don’t really notice.”
The Honda Indy gets underway on Sunday at 3 p.m. and Wickens said he can’t wait to get in his car.
“I can’t wait for the weekend to get started,” he said. “It’s going to be a special one for me.”
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