On Monday night Justin Wilson succumbed to the injuries he sustained at Pocono on Sunday. The 37-year-old IndyCar driver was hit in the head by debris from Sage Karam’s accident at turn one and knocked unconscious. Doctors were unable to resuscitate him. Motor Sport‘s deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.
Justin excelled at every level of racing, from Formula Vauxhall Juniors through to IndyCar and possibly his biggest individual triumph, winning the 2012 Daytona 24 Hours. Even at this relatively late stage in his career, he was able to secure a part-time drive with Andretti, helping develop the Honda package that struggled early in the season. Only three weeks before the Pocono race, Justin challenged for victory at Mid-Ohio in his fifth race for the team. In the closing stages of the contest he showed his character by not pressing hard to overtake Graham Rahal for the lead; he knew that he was a part-time driver and that Rahal was in the title fight and at his home circuit, so didn’t interfere.
Justin’s last win was at Texas in 2012
The latter point illustrates why it isn’t just his talent that will be missed. Wilson made friends wherever he went and was always one of the most popular drivers in the paddock. Tributes have come thick and fast from colleagues past and present, including from those at Red Bull and Toro Rosso, two teams he drove for when they were Jaguar and Minardi respectively.
Last year, Simon Arron sat down for a chat with Justin about his life in racing:
“It is almost 20 years since Justin Wilson created a piece of history that will forever be his. He was one of the first to capitalise on looser licensing rules that allowed younger drivers to graduate to cars – and in October 1994 became the first 16-year-old to win a UK single-seater race (and on his debut, too), the opening round of the Vauxhall Junior winter series at Pembrey. It was symbolic of rich promise so often apparent during his formative years, yet there were also niggling setbacks.
“He was supposed to make a full-time switch to cars in 1995, for instance, but missed the start of the campaign after breaking his left wrist and ankle in a testing accident at Brands Hatch.
“He was soon back at the helm and four victories earned him a 1996 seat with Paul Stewart Racing’s crack Formula Vauxhall team. More wins followed, but the title proved elusive and patron Sir Jackie Stewart concluded that Wilson’s height – he’s 6ft 4in – would be a barrier to single-seater progress. He suggested Justin look to sports or touring cars instead. That became a motivational tool – and remains so. ‘It was a spur to prove I could do what I set out to do,’ Wilson says.”
Click here to read the rest of Simon’s interview with Justin
Justin’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, please donate the money to the Wilson Children’s Fund