Monday, August 24, 2015

In Memoriam: Justin Wilson (1978-2015)

Justin Wilson, 1978-2015

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died on Monday in a hospital in Pennsylvania.  He suffered injuries on Sunday at the Pocono 500 after he was struck by crash debris from another car.

Wilson's loss is particularly hard to take.  A part-time driver in 2015, Wilson was set for a full-time ride again with Andretti Autosport in 2016.  He was really a great race car driver that often took equipment other folks could do little with and brought it home safely and in a far better position than anyone thought possible.

He was known for his height (6'5") and his big smile.  He always seemed to have a positive outlook on life and in racing even though his talents often went unappreciated by owners looking for drivers with deeper pockets.  He was deep on talent, and it was about to pay off with a solid ride for 2016.

Wilson won seven Champ Car/IndyCar races, and he scored one point in Formula One competition.  On August 2, he came home second in the race at Mid Ohio Motorsports Park.  It was just his fifth start of the IndyCar season.  In 2013, for the chronically under funded Dale Coyne Racing Team, Wilson drove home fifth at the Indianapolis 500, his best finish in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

I did not know Justin, but I will always remember him for his class and his excellence.  People that knew him seem to universally have liked him and respected him.  He leaves behind two young daughters, a wife, his parents, and his brother, Stefan, who also is a race car driver.

Whenever a driver passes, I'm always reminded of the words of the great broadcaster Sid Collins who eulogized fallen driver Eddie Sachs who died at the start of the 1964 Indianapolis 500.  Before the race restarted, Collins's over-the-air eulogy included the following passage:

"We are all speeding toward death at the rate of 60 minutes every hour, the only difference is we don’t know how to speed faster and Eddie Sachs did. So since death has a thousand or more doors, Eddie Sachs exits this earth in a race car. Knowing Eddie I assume that’s the way he would have wanted it. Byron said 'who the God’s love die young.'"

Like Eddie Sachs, Justin Wilson was 37.  Godspeed to our racing friend.

No comments: