Justin Wilson, 1978-2015

Champions are often measured by numbers, by the number of wins and the number of championships. Sometimes, Champions are measured by other intangible attributes. Last night, we lost Justin Wilson from a head injury sustained in Sunday’s IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway. He may not have won as many races as others and may not have won championships at the topmost levels of motor sport, but when you take those intangible attributes into account there is no doubt that Justin Wilson was a champion. The world of professional sports is often occupied by athletes with tremendous egos and questionable personalities, but that could not be said of Wilson. He was a man of composure, dignity, grace, intelligence, and honor. He never really found a drive with a top team that would have given him the chance to show his considerable skill but he never complained publicly. He spent much of his career with lower level teams or in part time rides, but he always gave his best, often pushing the team he was with to punch above its level. In this age of specialized motor sports coverage by TV, radio, and social media there are a lot of drivers that come across and moaners and complainers but Wilson was never one of them even though he often had legitimate reason. Motor sport has lost a racer, a champion, and most of all a gentleman – a man you could hold up to any young aspiring athlete as a role model. Justin Wilson was that rarity in professional sport: he was as great a man as he was an athlete.

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