A stack of four Firestones is the perfect leaning perch for Bob Perona as, eyes narrowed with focus, he talks to one of the most refined driving minds on the Verizon IndyCar Series. As Perona gets going, Robert Wickens ditches his lunch of salmon and grilled veg on rice and flips his attention back to racing.
Wickens, too, is relied on to communicate what his body tells him about how the vehicle is behaving and, thanks to his experience racing a variety of cars on multiple continents, there may not be a driver in the world with more finely tuned senses than the year-old Canadian.
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Dealing with new machinery once again as an Indy freshman, Wickens — known to demand the best from himself and those around him — has offered critical input to Perona and the SPM staff. Adjusting on the fly while trying to get from A to B has been constant theme for Wickens. As a teenager, he took off for Europe in pursuit of his Formula 1 dream. His patience for the payoff has surely been tested, but nothing is going to deter a competitor so fixated on owning the podium.
T im and Lise Wickens were lucky to have sons who not only dove headfirst into an activity, but who had complimentary interests within that discipline.
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The boys got their first kart when Robert was seven and Trevor was He cried a lot as a toddler but, according to family lore, quieted down when there was a race on TV, mesmerized by the action.
Lise drove a school bus route near the family home in Guelph, Ont. He often bounced along with mom, and his interest in racing got a major boost the day he met a fellow passenger with a kart. Robert came alive in the cockpit, while Trevor thrived with tools in his hands.
It was really just a continuation of the way things had been trending on carpets and couches for years: Tim, a mechanic who worked on large machines, began taking on regular overtime shifts; Trevor poured dollars earned from part-time jobs back into the kart; grandparents kicked in dough; and Lise did everything imaginable to keep their thinly stretched household running.
The Wickens also hustled for sponsorship money and worked hard to maintain those relationships as Robert rose through the ranks and costs increased. To make attending signature events as far away as the southern United States possible, the family bought a motorhome.
When Trevor was still too young to drive but old enough to prepare hot dogs for dinner, the boys would hop in the motorhome with Tim, while Lise followed behind in the family car. Upon arriving at one of the tracks in the vicinity of their house, the parents headed home for the work week, while Trevor and Robert stayed for days on their summer break, tracing the contours of the circuit over and over. And this involved far more than dumping gas in the kart and letting fly.
The Wickens boys used then state-of-the-art data systems to test every last component of the machine. While IndyCar boasts competitive balance Hot ebony teen solo super small teens huge to the class-stricken Formula 1 circuit, an outfit like SPM can still be outspent.
Incredibly, Wickens looked set to spray champagne at his first Indy race in March. He was in the lead with two laps to go when the latest of a couple full-course cautions at the Firestone Grand Prix of St.
Petersburg bunched the cars back up. While that incident had Wickens shaking his head, the rest of IndyCar marveled at what he did his next time on the track.
One major distinction between IndyCar and the formulas Wickens competed on in Europe is the presence of oval tracks. Hinchcliffe says the differences between street courses and ovals are analogous to those between skiing and snowboarding: He ultimately took second place. The performance cemented his reputation as an exceptionally nimble driver who can adapt to any scenario involving horsepower and steering.
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Showings like that make it easy to believe Wickens could pile up new fans in a hurry. Without saying a word, the kid passes the car to a crew member, who hands it to Wickens for a kiss from the Sharpie. The supporter, after getting his even-more-prized possession back, gives a wave as he walks away. Later, Wickens translates his reaction: From throughWickens raced touring cars on the popular Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series in Germany. After showing what he could do in karts, a year-old Wickens made the jump to cars in and won the Formula BMW USA championship as a series sophomore in He was picked up by Red Bull, which provided the financial backing he needed to commit to European Hot ebony teen solo super small teens huge in In his second full-time campaign overseas, Wickens finished runner-up in Formula 2 on the strength of two wins, six podiums and five poles.
Despite the Hot ebony teen solo super small teens huge, Wickens pressed on. Inthe money required to keep the engine running came from Canadian businessman Teddy Yip Jr. Wickens taught driving lessons to pay the rent and slept in hostels on the road while many well-heeled competitors in a sport renowned for attracting exorbitant wealth stayed in five-star hotels during race weekends.
Inhe beat out the likes of Rossi, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo — a driver who now has seven F1 wins on his resume — and a handful of other top up-and-comers to claim the Formula Renault 3. He was also a reserve and test driver for the F1 team Marussia Virgin Racing that summer and was more or less locked in to compete in Formula 1 in until Marussia passed him over at the 11th hour in favour of Charles Pic, a Frenchman from a well-to-do family who could bring a small fortune to the seat.
Wickens had other Formula 1 options, but they were with back-marking squads that represented little in terms of long-range security. An extremely competitive championship, and I was challenging for podiums [and] wins every weekend. I was there to compete, not just wave at the fans and be another driver.
He was also sipping espresso in luxurious hospitality suites and, most significantly, collecting a paycheque.
Wickens notes that being a Mercedes employee was, technically, his first full-time job. InWickens purchased a cottage on Pine Lake in the Muskoka region of Ontario, and thanks to the relatively light DTM schedule and the support of Mercedes, he was able to fly home regularly during recent seasons to spend quiet, quality time there.
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If DTM was the last stop for Wickens, his odyssey could be called a success by most measures — especially considering where it started. With change on the horizon, more wheels started turning for Wickens.
A tugger is the workhorse cousin of the golf cart. On Thursday evening, with the sun hanging low over the Motor City, more than a half-dozen members of SPM climb onto the bed of the tugger, legs dangling over the side. One is a bit tardy.
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Once Wickens lands shotgun, dark grey No. But while business talk rules the day, levity always lurks when Hinchcliffe is around. And have you ever seen anyone frown on a jet ski?
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Those close to him, though, rave about what they see on the other side of the shell. Keeping his cards close to his vest actually helped Wickens in a realm that is often kind to men of mystery: Unfortunately for Wickens, he was flying to Indianapolis to see Hinchcliffe, who had just experienced a life-threatening crash during Indianapolis practice.
Following his somewhat melancholic visit to Indy, Wickens returned to Toronto and met Woods face-to-face. When a few dates made it clear there was a spark, she mentioned his seemingly sly approach.
Wickens and Woods paid tribute to the pal who unwittingly brought them together when it came time to name their Yorkie-Maltese mix. The couple live just down the road from Hinchcliffe, his partner, Becky Dalton, and their dog, Lucy, in Indianapolis.
All four people, minus the furry companions, can be found in the pits during race weekends, some of which occur within driving distance of Indy. His brother, however, believes there was always another, more personal audience he was anxious to reach. Any Sunday now could trigger significant growth in that regard for Wickens.
When it happens, expect the guy on top of the podium to finally lose his composure. From a tiny basement shop to regular appearances in the Blue Jays locker room, Joshua Diamante has become the man Toronto's professional athletes trust with their hair.
Born into the first family of Cuban baseball, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. A lack of familiarity with most IndyCar tracks hasn't prevented Wickens from posting solid early results. Canadians under 'tremendous' pressure to win Honda Indy Toronto. As kids, Wickens and his brother both loved racing — one at home in the driver's seat, the other in the garage and pits. Each week, Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt tackle the most impactful stories in the world of sports and their intersection with popular culture.
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Come for the sports; stay for the storytelling and cigars. It was just a helluva performance. Trevor notes that even as a kid Wickens had the ability to give crucial feedback on track conditions and vehicle performance. Long-time friends Wickens and Hinchcliffe are now both teammates and neighbours, living close together in Indianapolis. Design by Drew Lesiuczok. Photography by Geoffrey Knott. In a sport that was measuring and quantifying the smallest of details decades before As a teenager, he took off for Europe in pursuit of his Formula 1 dream.
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