Last night, the motorsports world lost a tremendous competitor and an even greater person. IndyCar’s Justin Wilson passed away at age 37 due to injuries sustained in an accident on Sunday at Pocono.
Being a long time and avid racing fan I’ve witnessed other fatalities. Unfortunately, the known risk and danger of the sport do not make it any less easier for the sport to handle when they do occur.
My thoughts and prayers are with Justin’s family and friends. I hope they find comfort in knowing how much he was beloved by his fans and his colleagues.
In tribute to Justin, here is a look back at the top moments of his career:
10. 2008-ChampCar Finale pole: After the announcement that 2008 would mark the reunification of IRL and ChampCar, it was decided that the April race in Long Beach would be the last utilizing the Champ Car vehicles.
Wilson took pole for the race with Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing. Wilson fell out of the race just twelve laps in due to a blown engine. It would be two years before he earned what proved to be his second and final IndyCar pole, as he took the top spot in qualifying at Toronto, site of his first win.
9. 2005-First ChampCar Pole: Four races into his sophomore season, Wilson earned his first career pole position at Portland. Wilson did not have the finish to match his start, as he wound up 17th. He would win five more poles in ChampCar and two more in the reunified IndyCar Series to go along with his seven career wins.
8. 2004-24 Hours of Le Mans: In 2004, Justin Wilson teamed up with Tom Coronel and Ralph Firman in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans. Despite setting the fifth fastest lap, the Dome Judd-S101 car failed to finish the race. Wilson would not make it back to Le Mans but did eventually make his way back into sports cars.
7. 2003- Formula 1 Points Finish: After performing favorably against teammate Jos Verstappen in the first 11 races of the season with Minardi, Wilson replaced Antonio Pizzonia at Jaguar for the last five races.
In the penultimate race of the season, the United States Grand Prix, Wilson finished eighth. Although Wilson would move on to Champ Car the next year, Wilson would return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway five years later, in an IndyCar.
6. 2009-Win at Watkins Glen with Dale Coyne: For nearly 25 years, Dale Coyne racing failed to score a victory. That all changed on July 4th weekend. As Justin Wilson held off Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing, Coyne made his first trip to victory lane, the first of two he and Wilson would enjoy together.
5. 2008- Win at Detroit: After the IRL-ChampCar reunification, Wilson was competitive but had no wins. Late in the race at Belle Isle, Helio Castroneves was penalized for blocking and Wilson inherited the lead and went on to win the race. It was his first and only win with Newman/Haas/Lanigan, as he moved over to Dale Coyne Racing in 2009.
4. 2012- First Oval Victory: The last of Wilson’s seven career victories was also his first and only on an oval. When Graham Rahal hit the wall with three laps to go, Wilson quickly made a move to pass him for the win.
Wilson, who had returned to Dale Coyne Racing that year after two years at Dreyer and Reinbold, snapped a 43-race winless streak in the process.
3. 2006-2007: Runner-Up in the championship. As Sebastian Bourdais dominated toward the end of the Champ Car era, Wilson was closing in. A win at Edmonton in 2006 and a win at Assen in 2007 helped propel Wilson to second in the title both years.
As Bourdais moved on to Formula 1, Wilson took over his seat at Newman-Haas/Lanigan and continued as one of the toughest competitors on the circuit.
2. 2005: First ChampCar Win: After starting his career in Formula 1, Wilson moved over to ChampCar in 2004. Driving for RuSPORT, his first career victory came on the streets in Toronto. Wilson would go on to earn another victory and finish third in the season standings.
1. 2012: Rolex 24 Triumph- In 2012, Wilson, teamed with Michael Shank Racing triumphed in one of the biggest races. Co-driving with AJ Allmendinger, Oswaldo Negri and John Pew, the four drivers finished first in the famed endurance race. The next year, the four were joined by Marcos Ambrose to finish third in the event.
Have a great week and see you soon.