The list of names gets longer and longer: Henry Surtees, Felipe Massa, Maria de Vilota, Jules Bianchi, and now Justin Wilson. The ‘odd man out’ is Felipe Massa. He’s the only one who survived being hit in the head while driving an openwheel car with an equally open cockpit.
Briton Justin Wilson, who despite stellar performances in Junior Formulae including title wins in the short-lived Formula Palmer-Audi and the GP2-predecessor, Formula 3000, only got a single season in Formula One, is dead. He succumbed to the head injuries sustained during the 500 mile race on the Pocono Tri-Oval. Wilson had been hit in the head by a large piece of nosecone from Serge Karam’s car, after the latter had crash into the wall in a different incident. Wilson fell into a coma from which he never came back.
In F1 he started for Minardi and was taken aboard by Jaguar Racing before the German GP in his sole season in 2003. At Jaguar he was reunited by the man he had once whipped in F3000 – Mark Webber.
However, while Webber should get ten more, largely mediocre seasons in Formula 1, Wilson was left with a solitary point in F1 and went to find his luck in America. Spending most of his seasons in CART and IRL, driving for smaller outfits like Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and perennial underdogs Dale Coyne Racing, he gave those teams results that were not normally in their reach, among them the only two race wins that Dale Coyne’s squad ever scored. He finished the CART championship in runner-up position twice, beaten each time by Newman-Haas driver Sebastan Bourdaix.
For this season Wilson was largely without a seat, but was given a chance by Andretti Autosport, driving a fourth car in the Indy 500. He finished 21st and switched to Formula E, again driving for Andretti Autosport. Andretti called him back to America to give him the fourth car again and Wilson’s last result was a fine second place at Mid-Ohio, one of the strongest results for Andretti’s team this year, which struggles with the lack of competitiveness of the Honda engines and aero package.
Not only the American Racing community loses a real fighter, a man who never gave up and fought for the best result in whatever material he was given. A win in the Dayton 24h, 7 wins in Champcar/IRL in mostly small teams tell the story.
All and TJ13 want to express their condolences to all friends, colleagues and the family of Justin Wilson. May he rest in peace.