Indianapolis, Ind. (August 25, 2015) - Racing is a dangerous sport. The drivers know that, but choose to do it because it's their passion, but that doesn't mean it's not devastating when a driver dies.
"You know, it's days like this that are extremely hard on all of us," said Ed Carpenter, team owner and driver.
Justin Wilson, 37, died Monday, a day after he was struck in the head by a piece of debris during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Wilson was an accomplished driver. He was a husband and father to two little girls and lived in a Denver suburb with his family.
His wife, parents and brother were by his side when he passed away at Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital in Pennsylvania.
Stefan Wilson, his brother, tweeted, "He never stopped giving and caring for others. Even at this time. He had pre-chosen to donate his organs to help others in need."
Wilson was widely regarded as one of the nicest and most sincere people in the racing community.
"Obviously Justin was a great professional driver and extremely good at his craft," said Carpenter. "Beyond that, he was a great guy. You know, one of the few, if only, guys that really was a friend among everyone in the paddock and competitors. Everyone respected him for the way that he carried himself."
He always had time for a picture or autograph and made fans feel like close friends. A memorial from fans is growing at the entrance to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the gates at 16th and Georgetown.
"It’s just a shame," said Jay Eubanks, an IndyCar fan. "Justin was one of the nicest guys in the garage area. We’ve always been lucky to have garage passes and he’s the one that’s always standing there with the kids, doing stuff for the kids and just his wife and two young daughters… It’s just a shame."
"We’re huge IndyCar fans," said Kyle Lewis. "We just moved to the city because of IndyCar and we’ve gone to multiple races here. And actually got lucky enough to see Justin in two races. Just moving to the city and actually being able to come down here and pay our respects, it was nice to do that. And recognizing a couple fans that we’ve met at races. It kind of helps."
"It’s a sport we all love, and it comes with sometimes hard times," said Lewis.
Wilson was dyslexic and did a lot of work with children with dyslexia.
Many of Wilson's fellow drivers took to Twitter Sunday night as word spread of Wilson's death.
Oh man, my heart is aching another friend gone.
Godspeed to one of racing's truest gentlemen. #justinwilson
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) August 25, 2015
I will miss you @justin_wilson so very much. I don't have many heroes, but Stefan and Julia are among them after how strong they've been.
— James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) August 25, 2015
— Jay Howard (@JayHowardRacing) August 24, 2015
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. 🙏🏼
— Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) August 25, 2015
So sad to hear that we lost Justin Wilson today. Thoughts & prayers to his family and friends.
— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) August 25, 2015
Godspeed my friend. Godspeed. #RIPJWil
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) August 25, 2015
— Andretti Autosport (@FollowAndretti) August 25, 2015
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 Forum Credit Union
PO Box 50738