IndyCar racer Justin Wilson passed away Monday. The news was confirmed by Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman and Co., the parent company of the Verizon IndyCar Series during a hastily called news conference Monday night at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Wilson was airlifted from the Pocono Raceway after he was seriously injured in a crash involving rookie driver Sage Karam Sunday. The accident happened on lap 179 of 200-lap race when Karam, in the lead at the time, lost control and spun exiting turn 1. Debris from Karam’s car scattered and it appeared that the nose piece from the car flew back and hit Wilson in the head. IndyCar racecars have open cockpits.
Wilson’s car veered to the left and hit the inside wall coming to rest back up on the track. Safety crews were on the scene almost immediately. Karam was slow to get from his car but did so after a few minutes and walked gingerly to a nearby ambulance. Safety workers then swarmed over the car of Wilson extricating the 36 year old after several minutes. He was rushed to another ambulance and shortly after airlifted to Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa., IndyCar officials said.
Later Sunday IndyCar officials reported that Karam had been transported to the hospital via ground for an injury to his right foot. The series continued to provide updates Monday with a statement with a quote from Karam coming Monday evening. The statement said that according to Dr. Terry Trammell, INDYCAR medical consultant, CT scans revealed no broken bones for the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams driver from Nazareth, Pa. Karam, 20, will be re-evaluated before being cleared to drive.
“First and foremost, I just hope everything is OK with Justin Wilson,” Karam said. “Justin is the priority and everything else is secondary at this point. As far as the race, we had a really great race car and I felt comfortable and in a position to be in striking distance for the win. The car just unfortunately came around on me in the middle of Turn 1 and I had no indication it was about to go.”
A native of Sheffield England, Wilson was 37 and leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Wilson’s death comes four years after Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died in 2011 when he crashed into a catch fence at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and died instantly. Other drivers who have been killed in crashes include Scott Brayton (1996), Tony Renna (2003) and Paul Dana (2006), among others.
Miles did not reveal the exact cause of Wilson’s death. He did say a trust has been set up for Wilson’s daughters. It is believed that Wilson’s family was with him when he passed. Wilson’s wife, Julia, was transported to Pennsylvania from their home in Colorado by IndyCar; his younger brother, Stefan, was flown in a plane belonging to NASCAR champion Tony Stewart from Indianapolis. Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion and former IndyCar champion, is an Indiana native. Wilson had seven victories and 26 podium finishes in 11 Indy car seasons. In seven Indianapolis 500 starts, Wilson has three top-10 finishes with a best of fifth in 2013. He qualified 14th the past two years.
“This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole,” said Miles. “Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility — which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time.”
Shortly after the news conference the family released a statement via email:
A Statement from the family of Justin Wilson
24 August 2015
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.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital, Pocono Raceway, Andretti Autosport, and the Verizon IndyCar Series as well as the entire racing community for the amazing outpouring of support from fans around the world.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Wilson Children’s Fund care of INDYCAR.
Wilson Children’s Fund
4551 West 16th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222