Taking Brotherly Love To A New Level
Leave it to Dale Coyne to pull a surprise on the entire IndyCar community. In an era where news leaks from the IZOD IndyCar Series are as common as chicken bones at a NASCAR race, Dale Coyne has been exploring the possibility of a very interesting pairing for his race team, apparently in complete secrecy.
With the series at Barber Motorsports Park for media day on Monday, we learned that Coyne is seriously considering adding Firestone Indy Lights driver Stefan Wilson alongside his older brother, Justin, at Dale Coyne Racing. Stefan is twenty-three years old and eleven years younger than his brother Justin.
The Harbaugh’s have nothing on the Wilson brothers. While brothers have competed against each other in IndyCars for decades, I’m not sure that two brothers have ever been full-time teammates. The Whittington Brothers were teammates at Indianapolis in the early eighties, including 1982, when all three raced as teammates – but to be honest, I’m unsure if they ever ran in a full season in CART or just a handful of races including a one-off deal at Indianapolis.
Larry Foyt and AJ Foyt IV competed together for their famous father/grandfather at Indianapolis in 2004 and 2005, but they were biological cousins and adoptive uncle and nephew instead of brothers. Don’t bother trying to figure that one out.
To my knowledge, the Lazier brothers never teamed up together, nor did Roger and Rick Mears. The same goes for the Bettenhausen brothers, Jerry or Tom Sneva, or Dick and Jim Rathmann.
Two of the most famous families to race at Indianapolis never teamed brothers with each other. Bobby and Al Unser competed against each other for a decade and a half, yet never raced on the same team together. The same goes for Michael and Jeff Andretti. But the Andretti family had father and son pairings as teammates. From 1989 through 1994, Mario and Michael Andretti teamed together as fulltime father & son teammates at Newman/Haas. Then in the 2006 and 2007 Indianapolis 500’s, Michael ran one-off attempts as team owner and teammate to his son Marco – with Marco finishing second and Michael third in the 2006 race.
The pairing of Stefan and Justin Wilson is not official and may not happen. Brazilian driver Ana Beatriz, another former Firestone Indy Lights winner, is also rumored for the second seat at Dale Coyne. The younger Wilson and Beatriz may split time in the car that teams with Justin Wilson, who curiously enough remains unsigned at Coyne. But that is believed to be only a formality, since Dale Coyne tends to wait until about forty-eight hours before the opening race before announcing his lineup.
Justin Wilson has won in Champ Car and brought Dale Coyne both of his only two wins in almost thirty years of competition. Stefan Wilson has never driven in the IZOD IndyCar Series, but has won in Firestone Indy Lights. He ran only once in 2012 – a sixth place finish in the season finale at Fontana, but ran the full 2011 season for Andretti Autosport, winning two races and finishing third in the championship.
The two brothers have never competed against each other on the track and find themselves staring at the unusual possibility of being teammates. Justin has joked that if it happens, he’ll have to be careful to not get too caught up in helping Stefan’s career at the expense of his own.
I’ve never met Stefan, but I’m hoping he is as friendly and accommodating as his older brother. Justin Wilson is one of the nicest drivers you’ll ever meet. There are some that are funnier and some are more outgoing, but I can’t think of any that come across as being as genuinely nice as Justin Wilson.
And pay no attention to the saying that nice guys finish last. Justin Wilson has proven his ability as a driver by taking Dale Coyne to victory lane in two separate occasions. His first was in the old-style Dallara in 2009 at the road course at Watkins Glen. His second came last year at Texas in the new DW12 chassis – two totally different cars on two completely different tracks. Ask any other driver who has driven for Dale Coyne since 1984, if they really thought their car had a chance at a victory. If they’re being honest, they will probably tell you “no”.
I can’t speak for the Wilson brothers, but competing on the same team with my brothers would be a challenge. I am nine years younger than one brother and six years younger than the other. Although we are close, we all three have completely different personalities. But one thing we share is that we all have very strong personalities. That would make for a combustible mix at times.
In a time when it seems drivers are getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to rides or contracts, this is a good storyline to follow. Two brothers as teammates week in and week out should be interesting to follow, especially depending on the dynamics between the two. This should bring a lot more attention to the sponsors of Dale Coyne Racing, for the right reasons. That’s always a good thing.