1978-2015

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

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.

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