I normally rant and rave about NASCAR in this blog space, but the entire racing community comes together at times and this is one of those such times with Monday’s death of well-beloved and well-respected IndyCar driver Justin Wilson. Wilson was struck by debris Sunday in the closing laps of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., and, as a result, was in a coma at a nearby hospital until his passing Monday evening at the age of 37.
While competitors and fans of motorsport accept that, unfortunately, situations like this are a real risk to be considered, those on the outside, who normally don’t even pay attention to any form of auto racing other than when tragedy strikes, question why drivers climb into race cars, knowing that risk.
Perhaps one of Wilson’s fellow-IndyCar drivers said it best via Twitter upon news of Wilson’s passing yesterday. Here’s what Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) tweeted yesterday evening:
“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.
Well said, Kanaan.
Getting back to my NASCAR roots, Wilson may not have been a presence within the NASCAR community, but he touched competitors in the NASCAR world. As a matter-of-fact, probably much to his dismay, news leaked out Sunday evening of Tony Stewart, a former Indy Racing League driver himself, lending the use of his plane to get Wilson’s brother to his bedside.
A.J. Allmendinger was a teammate of Wilson at Michael Shank Racing for a Rolex 25 at Daytona win in 2012. Upon learning of Wilson’s death, the Dinger (@AJDinger) sent out a series of tweets.
“My friend, brother, teammate and especially to one of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure to be around. I love u @justin_wilson
“Life isn’t fair sometimes. We lost one of the great ones today. One of the best ever. I know ur up there being a Wheelman JW. Ur amazing!!!
“Thanks for showing all of us how to be a great race car driver but more importantly showing us all how to be so humble.#RIPJW. I will miss u.
“Ur my boy forever. Love you @justin_wilson. One of the best ever. On and off the track.”
Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick), as we all know, came to NASCAR from the IndyCar World. She also was among the many from the NASCAR community to tweet out her condolences.
“Wow, what a sad day. @justin_wilson was a good man. A great man. I had the pleasure of knowing him and pray for his family.”
I’ll stop there at quoting tweets from NASCAR drivers, but mention that several other drivers also expressed their condolences via social media. Drivers tweeting about Wilson Monday night include Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, J.J. Yeley and Michael McDowell.
Also worth noting, Wilson’s death will be recognized by moments of silence at NASCAR events this weekend. The Sprint Cup Series has the weekend off, but both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck series will go road course racing, with the Xfinity Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Saturday and the Truck Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. Also, NASCAR will make decals honoring Wilson available for race teams to place on their race vehicles this weekend.
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