Justin Wilson dies at age 37

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Justin Wilson, of Sheffield, England, has died at age 37 following injuries sustained in an accident Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

Mark Miles, the head of INDYCAR’s parent company, Hulman &. Co., announced the news in a Monday night press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wilson had been in a coma since Sunday night.

“On behalf of the Wilson family, it’s with profound sadness that we announce that Justin has died this evening at Lehigh Valley Health Network Hospital in Allentown, Pa., as a result of the head injury he suffered yesterday at the Pocono Raceway,” Miles said.

“He passed away in the company of his family, his brother, Stefan,  his loving wife, wonderful wife Julia and his parents Keith and Lynne.

“Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness and character and humility, which made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing  industry is one big family and our focus now is rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this difficult time.

“Anyone who follows our sport knows Justin Wilson is one of the most respected, highly regarded and loved people in the entire paddock. He will be missed.”

A statement from the Wilson family reads as follows:

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
C/O INDYCAR
4551 West 16th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222

Andretti Autosport has also released the following statement:

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.

Godspeed, JW.

A statement from an NBC Sports spokesperson reads, “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Justin Wilson, and offer our most sincere condolences to his family and his teammates at Andretti Autosport.”

Wilson was a fixture on the racing circuit for many years.

In 173 starts in Champ Car and the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2004 through 2015, Wilson won seven races and also finished second in the Champ Car championship twice.

The year before that, in 2003, Wilson raced in Formula One with the Minardi and Jaguar teams, scoring a single World Championship point with eighth place for Jaguar at the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

Wilson made it into F1 by way of selling shares to investors, who would then invest in Wilson’s career.

Once he arrived in North America, Wilson instantly endeared himself to the paddock, known as a gentle giant at 6-foot-4. He was an excellent driver too, with the paddock always regarding his skills as being far better than the equipment he raced in. He delivered Dale Coyne his first two wins in the IndyCar Series, with wins at Watkins Glen in 2009 and Texas Motor Speedway in 2012. The Texas win was Wilson’s seventh of his career, first on an oval, and tragically, now, the last of his career.

Wilson had signed with Andretti Autosport for selected races in 2015, the month of May, which then expanded to the final five races of the season starting at Milwaukee in July.

He finished second at Mid-Ohio to former teammate Graham Rahal, which was his 27th and final podium finish in North American open-wheel racing.

On Sunday at Pocono, Wilson was struck in the head by an errant nosecone, which came loose from Sage Karam’s car after Karam contacted the Turn 1 wall. Wilson’s car then careened into the inside retaining wall.

Wilson is survived by his wife Julia and their two daughters.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).