Former F1 racer dies following IndyCar incident in Pennsylvania
British racing driver Justin Wilson, who raced in F1 for Minardi and Jaguar in 2003, has died after being struck by debris during an IndyCar Series race. He was 37.
The Sheffield-born racer suffered serious head injuries after being hit by the nose section of rival Sage Karam’s car, which broke loose after Karam crashed into the wall on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. Wilson was transported to hospital in a coma, and died the following day.
His family released a statement that said: “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.”
Jenson Button was one of many to pay tribute. He wrote on Twitter: “Justin Wilson was a great person and racing driver. My thoughts are with his family, RIP. I raced with Justin as far back as 1989 in karting and remember his smile was infectious, such a lovely guy.”
After an impressive karting career, Wilson battled his way up, ghting a perception that his height – he was 6ft 4in – meant he could not succeed in single-seaters. After winning the Formula Palmer Audi title, he earned the backing of former F1 racer Jonathan Palmer, who secured him an F3000 drive and established an innovative funding scheme to help him. He dominated the 2001 F3000 championship, scoring nearly twice as many points as runnerup Mark Webber, but despite impressing in a test for Jordan he was unable to nd an F1 seat. He had a deal set up to race a Minardi in 2002, but couldn’t t in the car. The team were so impressed that they ensured their 2003 machine was designed to accommodate Wilson’s frame.
Wilson impressed, outshining veteran teammate Jos Verstappen and earning a promotion to Jaguar Racing for the nal ve races of the year. He claimed an eighth-place points nish at the US GP, but was sidelined when the team took on Red Bull-backed Christian Klien for 2004.
Wilson switched his focus to the US, establishing himself as a force in CART and, later, the IndyCar Series. Despite spending much of his career with smaller teams, he scored seven wins in the two open-wheel series. He secured a limited deal with top IndyCar team Andretti Autosport this season, and was in contention for a 2016 drive with the squad.
He is survived by his parents, wife, brother and two daughters.