Wednesday, August 26, 2015

This One's For Justin

Four years ago, in my second ever blog post, I found myself writing about the passing of one of my favorite drivers, Dan Wheldon. 1,411 days since we lost my Dan, I find myself having the unfortunate task of writing about another one of the many drivers I look up to, Justin Wilson, departing from this world after a terrible accident.

My first memory, as is many fans' first memory of Justin is, "HOLY HELL! That guy is not a driver! Look at how tall he is!" I'm pretty sure I made a Chicago Bulls reference at that point as well (he was probably a better basketball player than the players they had in the mid-2000s haha). Once I saw how talented he was, my jokes quickly turned to how impressive he was to watch. I also remember thinking how he was the only guy who had a chance to stick it to Sebastien Bourdais in Champ Car.

Then came his time in the newly merged Champ Car-IRL. He started out at Newman-Haas Racing, and he was once again leaving an impression on me. He would later to two smaller teams, Dale Coyne Racing and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing between 2009-2014. While I was always vocal about Justin's crappy situation (he had the talent to be in a Penske or Ganassi car), watching him succeed as an underdog was a thorough treat. Seeing him beat champions and Indy 500 winners in average-to-mediocre equipment was thrilling.

It's the way Justin did it, both on and off the track, that made Justin the only 'BadAss.' He was so aggressive and he was seemingly always overtaking people, yet he hardly ever put a wheel wrong. He never caused trouble and never was a pest. Off the track, Justin was one of, if not the most, approachable person in the paddock. I had the pleasure of going up to him and shaking his hand leading up to the 2010 Iowa Corn Indy 250. I wished him good luck and asked what his chances were of winning. He said they were pretty good despite a below average starting position. So, of course Wilson spun and collected Mario Moraes before he finished one lap, but getting to meet him and experiencing just how nice he was in person was great.

Once I made the decision to get on Twitter, Justin was one of the first drivers who followed me. He tweeted to me only a couple time a year, but watching him respond to many of my friends' tweets with a simple 'thank you' embodied just what kind of person Justin is. I even got to interview him, something I will never forget.

Justin also spent a considerable amount of time at Children's Hospitals and with those who had dyslexia, doing whatever he could to brighten a person's day. Justin, who had dyslexia, was a big advocate for those who had dyslexia. His Twitter bio even said, "Warning Dyslexic in control, tweets might not make sense."

Justin was just a kind, respectful, and funny human being. He never once gave off the impression that he was a world class athlete who was amazing at his job. He acted like a fan, and therefore had a cult-like following of fans who stood back and apreciated what he did for years. The outpouring of support this week is a reflection of the kind of many he was.

I know I'm not the first person to publish my thoughts on Justin and definitely won't be the last, but I felt like I had to show my appreciation for Justin. While this article is an insufficient chance to share that appreciation, I just wanted to tell Justin, wherever he may be, that it was an absolute treat to watch you for over a decade. Thank you for being a great representative of Indycar, and we all miss you very much.

My continued thoughts and prayers to Justin's family during these difficult times.


Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media

-Matthew Hickey

Monday, August 24, 2015

Justin Wilson's Career in Pictures

Finding it hard to find the words to describe just how great of a driver Justin Wilson was. I'll work on something for tomorrow. but for now, here's some pictures of Justin Wilson's career, starting in F1 in 2003 and onwards. Rest in peace JW.

Wilson made his debut in 2003 for Minardi (black car) (No photo credit given)
Wilson would switch to Jaguar later in 2003 (Photo: SkySports)

Wilson made the move to America in 2004 driving in Champ Car for RuSports.
Milwaukee 2004 (Photo: Dan Streck / Motorsport.com)

Long Beach 2004 (Photo: Todd Corzett / Motorsport.com)

Justin Wilson
San Jose 2005 (Photo: Todd Corzett / Motorsport.com)

Justin Wilson
Toronto 2005 (Photo: Eric Gilbert / Motorsport.com)

Justin Wilson
Monterrey 2006 (Photo: Juan Carlos Munoz / Motorsport.com)

Justin Wilson
Road America 2006 (Photo: Kurt Dahlstrom / Motorsport.com)

Assen 2007 (Photo credit not given)

Long Beach 2007 (Photo: Motorsport.com)



GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 Practice
Wilson came over to Indycar after the merge with Newman-Haas. Homestead 2008
(Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Practice
St. Petersburg 2008 (Photo: Darrell Ingham / Getty Images North America)

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Practice
St. Petersburg 2008 (Photo: Marc Serota / Getty Images North America)

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Practice
Long Beach 2008 (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)


92nd Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 2008 (Photo: Jaime Squire / Getty Images North America)

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Practice
Iowa 2008 (Photo: Doug Benc / Getty Images North America)

Honda Indy 200 Practice
Mid-Ohio 2008 (Photo: Darrell Ingham / Getty Images North America)

Camping World Indy Grand Prix Practice
Watkins Glen 2008 (Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300
Wilson outside Mario Moraes and Will Power Chicago 2008
(Photo: Darrell Ingham / Getty Images North America)

Duplicate: IndyCar  Nikon Indy 300 : Practice & Qualifiying
Surfers Paradise 2008 (Photo: Robert Cianflone / Getty Images AsiaPac)

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Practice
St. Petersburg 2009 (Photo: Doug Benc / Getty Images North America)

Camping World Grand Prix Practice and Qualifying
Watkins Glen 2009 (Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images North America)

Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen
Watkins Glen 2009 victory (Photo: Chris McGrath / Getty Images North America)

Honda Indy Toronto
Toronto 2009 (Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg 2010 (Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images North America)

IRL Iowa
Iowa 2010 (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)

Honda Indy Edmonton Practice
Edmonton 2010 (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images North America)

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Practice & Qualifying
Sonoma 2010 (Photo: Christian Peterson / Getty Images North America)

Kentucky Indy 300 Practice and Qualifying
Kentucky 2010 (Photo: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images North America)

Cafe do Brasil Indy 300 Practice and Qualifying
Homestead 2010 (Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Barber 2011 (Photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images North America)


The Milwaukee 225
Milwaukee 2011 (Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

Honda Indy Toronto
Toronto 2011 (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg - Day 2
St. Petersburg 2012 (Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix - Day 2
Detroit 2012 (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images North America)

IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 500
Texas 2012 (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)

IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 500
Texas 2012 (Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images North America)

IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 500
Texas 2012 (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images North America)

Milwaukee IndyFest 225 - Day 1
Milwaukee 2012 (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)

Iowa Corn Indy 250 - Day 1
Iowa 2012 (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images North America)

Grand Prix of Baltimore - Day 1
Baltimore 2012 (Photo: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images North America)

Sao Paulo Indy 300 - Day 1
Sao Paulo 2013 (Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images North America)

Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix - Day 2
Wilson celebrates with Mike Conway Detroit 2013 (Photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images North America)

Honda Indy Toronto: Day 2
Toronto 2013 (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg 2014 (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)

Grand Prix of Indianapolis
Indianapolis 2014 (Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

Texas Motor Speedway: Day 2
Texas 2014 (Photo: Todd Warshaw / Getty Images North America)

Pocono INDYCAR 500 - Day 1
Pocono 2014 (Photo: Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images North America)

Iowa Corn Indy 300: Day 1
Iowa 2014 (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt / Getty Images North America)

Indianapolis 2015 (Photo: Bret Kelley / Indycar Media)

Indianapolis 2015 (Photo: Chris Jones / Indycar Media)

Speeding to Read Championship Assembly
Texas 2015 for Indy 500 media tour (Photo: Sarah Crabill / Getty Images North America)

Justin's last podium, Mid-Ohio 2015 (John Cote / Indycar Media)

Pocono 2015 (Photo: Chris Jones / Indycar Media)

Pocono 2015 (Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media)

Pocono 2015 (Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media)

Pocono 2015 (Chris Jones / Indycar Media)


All my thoughts and prayers go to Justin and his family. Rest in peace Justin.

-Matthew Hickey