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IndyCar loses a respected racer in Justin Wilson: by Keith Jones

Wilson leads RHR

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 24, 2015) – IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who enjoyed success in multiple motorsports series during a two-decade professional career, died Aug. 24 from a head injury sustained in the Verizon IndyCar Series race the previous day at Pocono Raceway. He was 37.

Fans continue to leave tributes to Justin Wilson by the front gate at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. – Photo by Chris Owens

Fans continue to leave tributes to Justin Wilson by the front gate at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. – Photo by Chris Owens

Wilson was struck by debris from a single-car crash on Lap 180 of the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile triangular oval. Wilson was immediately attended to by the Holmatro Safety Team and airlifted to a nearby Level 1 trauma center.

Wilson was respected throughout the paddock as a thoughtful, appreciative driver who always had time for fans, was active in various charities. Known as a safety advocate, he was a driver representative to the IndyCar series and often offered ideas on how to improve the safety of the sport for both drivers and fans. According to his younger brother Stefan, Wilson was an organ donor as well.

A road cycling and mountain biking enthusiast, Wilson also was an ambassador for dyslexia, a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading that challenged him as a youth. He often would speak to groups at the racetrack and visit schools near INDYCAR race venues.

Justin Wilson greets the fans during pre-race festivities at Pocono Raceway. – Photo by Chris Jones

Justin Wilson greets the fans during pre-race festivities at Pocono Raceway. – Photo by Chris Jones

A native of Sheffield, England, Wilson recorded seven career Indy car victories – the most recent in 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway – and eight pole starts in 174 races. He totaled 711 career laps led, including two in the Aug. 23 race. He competed in Formula One in 2003 with Minardi and Jaguar, and his initial F1 points were scored that year in the U.S. Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He co-drove a Michael Shank Racing sports car entry to the overall victory in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012.

“This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility – which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles, Hulman and Co. CEO Mark Miles, and driver Ed Carpenter speak during the Justin Wilson press conference at IMS. – Photo by Chris Owens

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles, Hulman and Co. CEO Mark Miles, and driver Ed Carpenter speak during the Justin Wilson press conference at IMS. – Photo by Chris Owens

“Justin was a great professional driver and extremely good at his craft. Beyond that, he was a great guy. One of the few, if only, guys that really was a friend among everyone in the paddock, amongst the competitors, and respected for the way he carried himself,” added fellow driver Ed Carpenter. “As challenging as today is and yesterday was, he was doing what he loved to do, what we all love to do, and why we’ll all be back competing in his honor in the near future.”

Wilson is survived by his wife, Julia, and two daughters. His younger brother Stefan is an accomplished race car driver who has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights. Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up for Wilson children. Donations may be sent to: Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o INDYCAR, 4551 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222.

 

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway in remembrance of Justin Wilson on Aug 24. – Photo by Chris Owens

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway in remembrance of Justin Wilson on Aug 24. – Photo by Chris Owens

FEATURE PHOTOS:

Justin Wilson leads teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay through Turn 3 during the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. – Photo by Bret Kelley

Justin Wilson celebrates his win at Watkins Glen in 2009. – IndyCar photo

 

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