Tributes paid for ex-Formula One driver who died from head injuries sustained in race crash
Published 25/08/2015 | 07:48
Tributes have been paid to Sheffield-born IndyCar driver Justin Wilson after he died as a result of the injuries he sustained in an accident in a race on Sunday.
The 37-year-old former Formula One driver, who was competing for Andretti Autosport, suffered head injuries when Sage Karam's car crashed in front of him on lap 180 of the 200-lap ABC Supply 500 on Sunday.
Wilson had been airlifted to hospital but died on Monday as a result of his injuries.
Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar's parent company Hulman & Co, said in a statement: "This is a monumentally sad day for IndyCar and the motorsports community as a whole.
"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."
Wilson is survived by his wife Julia and his two daughters. His brother Stefan is also an IndyCar driver.
Wilson's family issued a statement via his website justinwilson.co.uk.
"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," the statement said.
"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."
Stefan also used Twitter to pay tribute to his brother.
"Can't even begin to describe the loss I feel right now. He was my Brother, my best friend, my role model and mentor. He was a champion!
"He never stopped giving & caring for others. Even at this time. He had pre-chosen to donate his organs to help others in need. #myherojw"
Wilson was a former F1 driver, having competed for Minardi and Jaguar during the 2003 season.
He later moved to the United States, competing in Champ Car from 2004 to 2007 - and finishing as runner up in 2006 and 2007.
He switched to IndyCar in 2008, and competed in 174 races, recording seven wins, the latest of which came in 2012 at the Texas Motor Speedway.
He had begun this season without a full-time drive but was offered a part-time role with the Andretti Autosport team, contracted to drive in seven races of which Sunday's was the sixth.
Wilson's death comes almost four years after British driver Dan Wheldon, an Indianapolis 500 winner, was killed at the Las Vegas Speedway in the same series.
In a statement, the Andretti Autosport team said: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Justin Wilson. He was a tremendous racer, a valuable member of the team and respected representative to our sport. While Justin was only part of the Andretti lineup for a short time, it only took a second for him to forever become part of the Andretti family.
"His life and racing career is a story of class and passion surpassed by none. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Wilson family and fans worldwide.
Karam was one of several IndyCar drivers to respond to the news on Twitter, writing: "I can't find the proper words to describe the pain and sympathy I feel for Justin and his family. #RIPJustin"
Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montaya wrote: "Tough day in motorsport today as we loose another great person and driver. RIP Justin. You will be miss. Thoughts and prayers for his family".
Tony Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner, wrote: "Oh man, my heart is aching another friend gone. Godspeed to one of racing's truest gentlemen. #justinwilson
"Why do we do this? Because we love it, don't want to be anywhere else but a race car. We will keep your legacy my friend. Racers race."