- July 31, 1978
- August 24, 2015
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Justin Wilson was a racing driver from England who died from head injuries sustained during the IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway in August 2015, at the age 37.
Prior to that accident, he spent eleven seasons in North American open-wheel competitions (Champ Car, IndyCar), scoring seven victories and being the vice-champion in 2006 and 2007.
Before his Champ Car debut, Wilson spent one season in the Formula One World Championship, driving for Minardi and Jaguar. Earlier in a career, he was the 2001 International Formula 3000 champion.
Early career and Formula 3000 champion
Justin Boyd Wilson was born on July 31, 1978, in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, but spent his childhood in a nearby small village. When he was nine years old, Wilson started to race kart. After many years spent in kart racing, he moved to Formula Vauxhall. In 1998, he was spotted by many by many after winning the title in the first season of Formula Palmer Audi championship.
The FIA International Formula 3000 was the next stop in Justin’s career. In 2001, he won the title in the series, driving for the Coca-Cola Nordic Racing team, setting a new record winning margin. After that success, Wilson entered the World Series by Nissan and scored two race wins, which helped him to secure a place in Formula 1 in the following year.
Single season in the Formula 1 bracket
In 2003, Wilson signed with Minardi, but he couldn’t make an impact. Justin failed to finish 6 out of 11 races. He left the team after the British Grand Prix and moved to the Jaguar team for the remaining five races of the year. In the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, Wilson finished 8th and scored the only point in his Formula 1 career.
Departure to the US
After he had lost a place in the most popular racing series, Wilson went across the Atlantic to race in the Champ Car World Series. In 2004, which was his rookie season, he did relatively well, picking up 188 points to finish 11th overall. Moving to the RuSPORT team in 2005, Wilson’s results became much better. He spent three years with the team, winning a total of 4 races. In 2005, he was 3rd overall while the following two seasons he finished as a runner-up, losing to Sebastien Bourdais.
Good results propelled Justin Wilson to IndyCar
His performances in the Champ Car weren’t unnoticed and in 2008, he got a chance to debut in the IndyCar Series. Driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Wilson won the race at Detroit and finished 3rd at Edmonton. At the end of the year, he was 11th while in the following season, driving for Dale Coyne Racing, he moved up to the 9th position after winning the race at Watkins Glen and finishing 3rd at St. Petersburg.
Before the start of the 2010 campaign, Justin moved to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing which was a small step backwards. He scored two 2nd places at St. Petersburg and Long Beach to finish 11th in the final standings. The Brit stayed with the team for another year which proved to be very difficult. The results weren’t impressive and the things became even worse after Wilson was forced to miss the last 7 races of the year. During practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Wilson’s car went airborne after running off track and the driver injured his back.
The last IndyCar win scored at Texas Motor Speedway
After he had recovered from injury, Wilson signed with Daly Coyne Racing. Justin spent three years with the team and recorded variable results. In 2012, he won the race at Texas Motor Speedway but at the end of the year, he took 15th place in the Drivers’ championship. In 2013, Wilson moved up to the 8th overall but failed to win a single race, scoring four podiums. The season of 2015 was probably the weakest season with Dale Coyne Racing. Wilson neither won a race nor scored a podium, so he finished the season at the 15th place.
Justin was left without a ride at the start of 2015, before Andretti Autosport signed him as a free agent for the Indianapolis Grand Prix and Indy 500. After those races, he was released but was hired again before the race at Milwaukee. Wilson finished 2md at Mid-Ohio later in the season and looked like he was in a good shape, able to secure a new deal with Andretti.
Fatal crash at Pocono Raceway
Unfortunately, during the race at Pocono Raceway, Wilson was badly injured in a pretty bizarre way. The race leader Sage Karam crashed and debris from his car went airborne. Sadly, the nose cone from Karam’s car hit Wilson in the head, breaking his helmet. The poor driver was airlifted to the hospital in Allentown but died the following day. He was buried on 10th of September, 2015, in Paulerspury, in Northamptonshire.
Video : Justin Wilson fatal crash racing at Pocono in the Indy 500 series
Daytona 500 winner
It is important to know that Justin Wilson was also an accomplished sportscar driver. In 2012, he won 24 Hours of Daytona in Michael Shank Racing’s Riley-Ford, driving alongside A.J. Allmendinger, Oswaldo Negri Jr, and John Pew. In the same race, he twice finished 2nd, in 2006 and 2010, while in 2013, he was 3rd at Daytona.
During his career, Wilson also appeared in the Formula E Championship, V8 Supercar Championship, and American Le Mans Series. Justin was married to Jessica and the couple had two daughters. His younger brother Stefan is also a racing driver.
Photos: dailymail.co.uk, reddit.com, slate.com, autosport.com, sportstalkflorida.com, iracing.com.