(AP photo)

Justin Wilson benefit auction off to great start

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An auction that hopes to raise at least $1 million for the family of late IndyCar driver Justin Wilson is off to a great start.

Two helmets – one of Graham Rahal’s from the recent season-ending race at Sonoma and one from Wilson’s Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay have already raised $74,000 for the Wilson Children’s Fund, which will benefit Wilson’s widow Julia and daughters Jane, 7, and Jessica, 5.

A close friend of Wilson’s and a former teammate, Rahal is spearheading the Fund and auction. Wilson died Aug. 24 from a head injury suffered in a race one day earlier.

MORE: Rahal confirms Wilson auction launch date, $1 million goal

The auction (click here for access) opened Monday on eBay, which is waving all transaction fees, with all proceeds going to the Fund.

According to a media release from IndyCar:

“The first batch of items up for auction is a group of 19 racing helmets – 17 worn by drivers in the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 30 – along with Townsend Bell’s colorful helmet from the 2014 Indianapolis 500 and the helmet worn by racing legend Mario Andretti when he drove Honda’s ‘Fastest Seat in Sports’ two-seat Indy car at Indianapolis and other events this year.”

Added Rahal, “Justin was not just an incredible driver, he was an incredible person, teammate and friend. Through this auction, I hope we can raise as much money as possible to help provide for his (family).”

Here’s more info about the auction from IndyCar:

“The current group of helmets is available for bid through 9 p.m. ET Sept. 24. Another five groups of racing and other one-of-a-kind memorabilia will follow until the auction’s conclusion Oct. 26.

“In addition to Indy car memorabilia, drivers and teams from Formula One, NASCAR, World Endurance Challenge, Global Rallycross and United SportsCar Championship have donated items for auction. Non-racing items include a microphone autographed by The Who’s Roger Daltrey and an original painting of Wilson’s car by artist Bill Patterson.

“Fans who sell their own Wilson-related items on eBay can designate the Graham Rahal Foundation as their chosen charity and proceeds will be donated to the Wilson Children’s Fund as well.

Those wishing to contribute directly to the Wilson Children’s Fund can do so online at http://justinwilson.co.uk/donate or by mail to: Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o Forum Credit Union, P.O. Box 50738, Indianapolis, IN 46250-0738.”

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Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”