Arrow Electronics gets larger role with Schmidt IndyCar team
By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
Arrow Electronics has significantly increased its partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and will enter the 2019 season as the title partner of the IndyCar team.
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports unveiled its two-car driver lineup Friday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, not far from Arrow's Colorado headquarters. The team had three Dallara-Honda Indy cars on display, one for James Hinchcliffe, one for new driver Marcus Ericsson and one for injured driver Robert Wickens.
Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury during a crash in August at Pocono Raceway and has been rehabilitating in a Denver facility. The Canadian won't compete this season but the team displayed the No. 6 Arrow Electronics Honda to signify his ride will be waiting for him if he is cleared to return.
Wickens was in his wheelchair on the stage to help remove the cover on the No. 6 car.
"This is the first time I've seen a race car since I was on the grid for Pocono," he said. "It makes me want to jump in one and see if I can push a pedal or not."
The 29-year-old Wickens crashed at Pocono on Aug. 19 and suffered a thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, fractured right forearm, fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion. He has been updating his rehabilitation progress on social media and posted a video last week of him using a walker on a "Friday stroll through the hallways." His videos have shown he is working daily to move and walk again.
"It's not easy," Wickens said. "There's a long way to go but the support from the fans has been phenomenal. The days that I'm feeling down, those guys pick me up and get me back in the gym."
The cars are black and gold, previously seen only on Hinchcliffe's car. The signature chrome on the cars has been changed to a sleek matte finish. Wickens thanked Arrow and SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt for keeping a seat open for him.
"I'm even more grateful that I'll have the opportunity to race for them some time in the future," Wickens said.
Arrow and Schmidt first partnered in 2014 on a semi-autonomous motorcar. Schmidt, a paraplegic, that same year drove the SAM car 152 mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway using the Arrow technology embedded in the car.
Arrow joined the race team the next season as primary sponsor for Hinchcliffe and used the No. 5 to signify the company's "Five Years Out" motto that is part of the company vision of "guiding innovation forward to help you create a better tomorrow."
"This announcement is nothing short of a lifelong dream come true," said Schmidt, who thanked Arrow Chairman Mike Long and the company for its vision "to create a system that enabled me to get behind the wheel after 16 years of paralysis," changing his life and that of many others.
"Now, by becoming our team title partner, they have given us the resources to fulfill another lifelong dream to win the Indy 500 and a championship in the IndyCar Series," he said.
Long noted that Arrow did roughly $300 million in sales with automotive companies before its initial partnership with Schmidt and that has since increased to almost $3 billion in sales.
"This relationship has given us credibility with the automotive manufacturers. It keeps our engineers sharp because in IndyCar you're dealing with milliseconds, you're not dealing with seconds," Long said. "Anything we can do to help this team win is what we want to do. All in all we're as happy we can be. We have a great set of drivers, good attitude, good representatives for Arrow."
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