Northampton race ace dies after being struck by debris in US IndyCar series

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, whose family is based in Northampton, has died after being struck by debris from a fellow competitor's car.
IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, whose family is based in Northampton, has died after being struck by debris from a fellow competitor's car.

Tributes have been paid to a “loving father” and IndyCar driver from Northampton who has died following injuries sustained during a race.

Justin Wilson was struck by debris from a crash on Lap 180 of the 200-lap race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania; a 2.5-mile oval known as the “tricky triangle.”

He had been in a coma since then, but IndyCar.com confirmed this morning, UK time, that the father-of-two, who moved from Sheffield to Northampton in the early 2000s, had succumbed to his injuries.

“This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co, which is the parent company of the single-seater motorsport franchise.

“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, who drove for the Andretti Autosport Honda team, is survived by his wife, Julia, and two daughters.

His younger brother Stefan is also an accomplished race car driver who has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights.

Funeral arrangements are pending and a fund has been set up for his children according to IndyCar.

The family released the following statement: “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 also said that Wilson was an organ donor and they will honour his wishes.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Justin Wilson,” Andretti Autosport said in a statement. “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.”

Mr Wilson recorded seven career IndyCar victories during his career, the most recent in 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway.

He also competed in Formula One in 2003 with Minardi and Jaguar.

Wilson, a road cycling and mountain biking enthusiast, also was an ambassador for dyslexia, and was known to speak to groups at the racetrack and visit schools near IndyCar race venues.