Justin Wilson - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
The headline could also read "Justin Wilson, loving husband and father to two young daughters, dead at 37".
It's the tragic story we hate to write, and it seems we've been writing these a lot lately.
Justin Wilson was battling it out with his fellow racers at the Pocono Raceway on the weekend when it all went wrong. Driver Sage Karam lost control of his vehicle during a corner of the extremely fast racing circuit. The rear of his vehicle stepped out and Karam wound up nose-first in the wall. This sent pieces of his car bounding across the racing surface. Wilson came up upon the debris and the nose cone from Karam's car hit him in the head.
Wilson was immediately knocked out, and his car wound up in the infield wall. He was unresponsive at the scene and airlifted to a nearby medical facility. He was in a coma following the incident, and it was confirmed Monday night that he had succumbed to his injuries. Justin Wilson was just 37 years old.
It's easy, and many will do so, to say that Wilson died doing what he loved. I've never liked that saying, even though it might make the reality of what's occurred easier to swallow for some. Wilson loved racing, there's no question about that, and he was exceptionally talented behind the wheel of a race car. He loved life though, and he enjoyed his life with his wife and kids spent in the area around their Colorado home. His death is terrible, and there's no way to sugarcoat it.
Wilson arrived in the States from Sheffield, England. He started racing in that very British manner by jumping in the seat of a kart. He worked his way up the Formula series ladder, and eventually tested for Formula One in 2002. Unfortunately, since he was 6'4" tall, he couldn't fit in the car. In 2003, however, a car was built around Wilson's size and he raced for an entire season. Points were scored, but funding was not to be found after that season.
He moved to Champ Car and eventually found his home at IndyCar, which is where he raced from 2008 to 2015. Throughout his career, Wilson also raced at Daytona and Le Mans, and even jumped behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar for a season. He was, as his website described, a racer's racer, which is clear from the outpouring of sadness from the motorsports community at his death.
On a personal note, I met Justin in 2014. He was a guest on my podcast, and he was a funny, intelligent, friendly, and wonderful human being. Writing about racing tragedies like this is always an awful thing to do. Writing about Justin's accident hurts a little bit more.