JUSTIN WILSON – 1978-2015
Photo – jakobebrey.com
The British Racing and Sports Car Club wishes to pay tribute to British IndyCar star Justin Wilson, who sadly and tragically passed away in the early hours of this morning following injuries sustained from crash debris at this weekend’s IndyCar race at Pocono in Pennsylvania, USA. He was 37 years old.
Born in Sheffield, he started karting in 1987. Wilson eventually progressed through the junior ranks, finding himself in the Formula Palmer Audi Championship in its first season of operation in 1998. He would go on that year to become FPA’s inaugural champion, which set him up for the next 3 seasons in the FIA International F3000 Championship. On his third attempt in 2001, he managed a consistent string of podium finishes and wins to claim the title with Nordic Racing.
Wilson finally gained his break into Formula 1 in 2003 with European Minardi. He raced for Paul Stoddart’s team up until the British Grand Prix, before being taken on by Jaguar for the final 5 races of the season which in turn saw him score his only World Championship point – 8th place at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
2004 was the year Wilson made a permanent switch stateside to the Champ Car World Series. His initial campaign was with Conquest Racing, where he scored a best finish of 4th at the final round in Mexico City. The following 3 seasons were spent with RuSPORT, where he was able to clinch 4 victories and numerous podiums. He would always remain in the hunt for the championship, finishing 2nd to Sebastien Bourdais in 2007 and 3rd in 2005 and 2006.
After the merger with IndyCar, Wilson remained in the championship and spent a year with Newman-Haas Lanigan Racing which produced his 5th career win in Detroit. He switched to Dale Coyne Racing for 2009 and produced a prominent second half of the year to end up 9th in the points, also clinching another win at Watkins Glen.
Wilson then moved to Dreyer & Reinbold for two seasons in 2010, however his 2011 campaign was cut short after sustaining a back injury at Mid-Ohio. He would return the following year, once again with Dale Coyne Racing and duly scored his and the team’s maiden oval victory in Texas. He remained with them until the end of 2014, with numerous top 10 finishes and a handful of podium visits.
2015 had seen him join Andretti Autosport for the Indy 500 and subsequently sign to drive for them in the last 5 races of the year. He made eight Indy 500 starts with a best finish of 5th in 2013. Outside of IndyCar, Wilson had turned his hand to a variety of series, including one-off appearances at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and Australian V8 Supercars. He also drove for Andretti Autosport’s Formula E team at the championship’s Moscow ePrix in Russia this year.
Wilson sadly leaves behind his wife Julia, his daughters Jane and Jessica and his brother and fellow racing driver Stefan, as well as his friends, family and colleagues. He was considered by many to be a true gentleman of the sport with never a bad word spoken about him. Tributes have been pouring in from all over the world of motorsport, including from vice president of the club Nigel Mansell OBE.
This is a harsh reminder that motorsport is still dangerous, no matter the discipline. It’s the risk every single driver, team and marshal takes every time they take to the track to enjoy the sport we all love. Nonetheless, we wish all of our competing drivers going forwards to race safely and enjoyably in the meetings to come. The BRSCC extends its deepest and most heartfelt condolences and thoughts to the Wilson family and Andretti Autosport during this very difficult time.
Rest In Peace, Justin Wilson.