One week following a horrific crash at Pocono Raceway, IndyCar returned to action at Gateway Motorsports Park for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. The atmosphere of the crowd electrified the air as the sound of IndyCar returned to the St. Louis area for the second year. But in the paddock, the mood was slightly less energetic and it was noticeable on the faces of nearly all the drivers and crew members, regardless of team. It was apparent that although the focus was on the race, many had Robert Wickens on their mind.
No one can imagine how difficult it is for James Hinchcliffe to focus on a race as his teammate undergoes surgeries in a Pennsylvania hospital, knowing he himself had been in the same spot just a few short years ago. But there he was, lap after lap, willing himself to carry the torch for his fallen teammate and lead the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team into battle. And while the entire team was drained from an emotionally exhausting week, all they could do was support each other and get back to what they know how to do best: racing.
The mood was different than that at other events, not only inside the SPM camp, but throughout the entire paddock. Yes, there was excitement for the event, but the absence of one of the sport’s best and most popular rookie drivers in years was felt at every corner. RW6-branded hats filled the paddock as everyone, regardless of team, honored their injured friend. Stickers made it onto countless cars and helmets. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people signed a #GetWellWickens banner. As with all motorsports, the IndyCar paddock is a family, and when something devastating like Robert’s crash occurs, it doesn’t just affect one team, it affects them all.
Below is our photo gallery capturing the event.