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IndyCar’s Justin Wilson Dies From Head Injuries

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 24 2015
Justin Wilson died Monday of injuries suffered during Sunday's race in Pennsylvania. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

Justin Wilson died Monday of injuries suffered during Sunday’s race in Pennsylvania. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles announced Monday evening that IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson has died from injuries suffered during Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway.

The announcement was made during a press conference held in the media center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

bugindycarThe incident occurred when a piece of bodywork from the car of driver Sage Karam flew into the air and struck Wilson on the head.

Wilson was air lifted to a nearby hospital in Pennsylvania where it was announced the native of Great Britain was in a coma.

On Monday, he was pronounced dead. He was 37 years old.

“This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole,” Miles said. “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.”

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 attended to by the Holmatro Safety Team and airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa.

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.

Wilson co-drove a Michael Shank Racing sports car entry to the overall victory in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012.

Wilson was driving a car for Andretti Autosport part time this season.

Andretti Autosport issued the following statement Monday evening: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Justin Wilson. He was a tremendous racer, a valuable member of the team and respected representative to our sport. While Justin was only part of the Andretti lineup for a short time, it only took a second for him to forever become part of the Andretti family. His life and racing career is a story of class and passion surpassed by none. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Wilson family and fans worldwide.”

Wilson listed his current residence as Longmont, Colorado.

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.

Wilson’s family issued the following statement Monday evening:

“With deep sadness, the parents of Justin Wilson, Keith and Lynne, his wife Julia, and his brother Stefan share the news that Justin passed away today after succumbing to injuries suffered during the Verizon IndyCar event at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 23.

“Justin was a loving father and devoted husband, as well as a highly competitive racing driver who was respected by his peers.

“The family would like to thank the staff at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital,  Pocono Raceway, Andretti Autosport, and the Verizon IndyCar Series as well as the entire racing community for the amazing outpouring of support from fans around the world.”

After news of Wilson’s death became public, the internet and social media began filling up with warm thoughts about the man and the driver.

Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, admired both aspects of Wilson, he said in a team statement.

“Every year I spoke with Justin about joining our team, even as recently as Mid-Ohio,” Rahal said. “In addition to his ability to be one of the best race car drivers, he was the ultimate team player.

“Justin was a wonderful person and that’s what made this so distressing. I ache for his family. I have no doubt that our community will try to bring them as much peace as possible. Justin was universally liked and respected by his fellow competitors and there are not many people out there that can make that claim. The only thing that makes it tolerable, and it sounds trite, is that he was doing what he wanted to do. That doesn’t take the pain away from those of us who grieve now, but for him he most likely was enjoying every second of what he was doing. And we have to believe that to continue.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 24 2015
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