The Sport That Justin Wilson Loved

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Monday night, the news was confirmed. It was the news we had all been dreading since late Sunday afternoon. We hoped and prayed that Justin Wilson would somehow beat the odds that were stacked against him, but it was not to be. Justin Wilson succumbed to the injuries he suffered at Pocono Raceway one day earlier.

By now, much has been said and written about what a great driver he was and how popular he was among his peers in the paddock and racing fans. It has also been noted that his most crowning achievement was as a father, husband, son and brother. The love he showed for his family is well documented. There is little that I can add other than to say he will be missed.

This news was and is devastating. I’m not sure which night was worse. Sunday night was a restless night spent wondering, fearing and hoping. Monday night brought confirmation of the worst, but a sense of finality and resolution. We can’t get the thought of his family left behind out of our collective minds. That is the worst part of it.

With little else to offer about the man that Justin Wilson was, I would like to go in a slightly different direction to honor his memory. Some will say that it is way too early to discuss such a topic, but I disagree. I think Justin Wilson would want this topic to be brought up immediately and he would agree with what I’m about to say.

I’ll not cheapen his loss by comparing this era to when I grew up following this sport in the sixties and drivers were lost on a near monthly basis. This is a huge loss now and would have been just as huge then. The pain we are feeling is not limited to an era.

In the fifties, Pat O’Connor was probably the most popular driver in the paddock, much like Justin Wilson in our era. Also like Wilson, O’Connor never won the Indianapolis 500 nor a series championship. But he was deeply respected by his peers and loved by a legion of fans. He was a native Hoosier that was a favorite due to his unassuming demeanor. He lost his life in Turn Three on the opening lap of the 1958 Indianapolis 500. Many Hoosiers in the stands left that day and said they would never be back. It hurt that much. From what I understand, many of those fans never did come back. They wanted nothing to do with a sport that was so cruel that it frequently took their heroes.

Of course, many did come back. Maybe not the next year, but they did come back.

In the moments before and after the press conference, when IndyCar CEO Mark Miles informed us of Wilson’s passing, I was scouring through social media for any news I could find. What I saw was an overwhelming theme from many people that I know to be avid race fans – I’m done with IndyCar.

Shortly after the press conference concluded, I got a text from one of my best friends within the IndyCar community. His simple question spoke volumes – Why the hell do we continue to love this sport???? I had no real answer other than the pointless “Because we do”. That was insufficient. He needed answers and all I gave him was that.

Mario Andretti once said “Unfortunately, motor racing also gives us this”. The nature of racing sometimes makes it hard to be a fan. It is much, much safer than it used to be; but there is still inherent danger in this sport – and there always will be. Unfortunately, fatalities will always be a part of this sport to some extent. In the sixties, drivers and fans were hardened to the fact that there would be lives lost each season. We knew about and admired a driver’s on-tack prowess and bravado, but there was no social media so we knew very little about the drivers of yesteryear.

Nowadays, with every race on television complete with a pre- and post-race show, we get plenty of chances to learn about these drivers. With social media, we get to interact directly with drivers. We see how they spend their free time. We learn about their families and what kind of food they like. In a sense, we feel like we live next door to them and know them like a neighbor. Then, when they are snatched away from us – it hurts as much as losing a family member. That’s what makes it so hard on us fans. It’s easy to question why we continue to love this sport.

But make no mistake, we do love this sport – and we want it to continue.

It’s hard to believe that as gutted as we felt at the end of the 2011 season, we feel just as gutted less than four years later. But I make a heartfelt plea to anyone reading this to not abandon this sport. Justin Wilson loved this sport. Dan Wheldon loved it. So did Paul Dana, Tony Renna, Greg Moore and the many others who lost their lives in pursuit of their dreams. None of them planned on dying. And I don’t buy, for a minute, the old line of “…at least he died doing what he loved”. As much as all of the aforementioned drivers loved the sport, they didn’t want to die doing it. They all dreamed of a life after racing.

Justin Wilson was known as the gentle giant and was never known for having a temper. Most say that they never heard him utter an unkind word about anyone. But I’ll bet he would be very upset to learn that some fans of the sport he loved, turned away from it after he was fatally injured in a race car.

More than any other sport or most things in life, the sport of motor racing can provide fans and drivers with the highest of incredible highs, but the lowest of lows anyone could possibly fathom. That’s where we are right now – the lowest low.

We all get frustrated with the political minutia that goes on with this sport. But strip all of that away and you’re left with a sport that incites more passion within us than anything else, other than our own families. Although it’s easy to overlook at the moment – for all of the heartbreak we are feeling right now, this has been an incredible season for fans and competitors alike.

In the midst of all the wonderful tributes that I saw throughout the day yesterday, I also saw pleas from fans for their favorite IndyCar driver to retire immediately – not even waiting for this weekend’s season finale. A couple of IndyCar bloggers that I respect posted similar thoughts. One said that they were giving up on IndyCar completely, the other was going to take a long sabbatical to gather his thoughts before deciding to write anymore beyond this tragedy. They couldn’t bear the thought of losing another driver that they felt close to.

This site is not read by many casual fans. It is a segment of hardcore IndyCar fans that have been coming here for the past several years. I am sending out this plea to anyone reading this post – we need you, now more than ever! While we are feeling pain for Justin Wilson, his family, his close friends in the paddock and his fans – we need you to stick with the sport that Justine Wilson helped build, hold together and was so passionate about.

In the coming days and weeks, the mainstream media will descend upon this sport and talk of things they know nothing about. They will decry the safety of IndyCar and will question the reasons for its very existence. Emotional and knee-jerk reactions will become the norm for many. If the core fans of this sport abandon the fan base, it will give fuel to the fire of the perception that this sport is dying and needs to. Justin Wilson would not want that. Neither should anyone else.

Support for this sport has a history of being fractured, even among its most die-hard fans. Now is the time for fans to come together, not scatter and leave the sport with no fan base at all. Fans should keep their heads and not buy into the negativity that is sure to come from pundits who have no idea what they are talking about, when it comes to racing and safety. These types always show up whenever there is a fatality in racing. They want the sport to be dissolved because they don’t understand it. They also think it shows how much they care about mankind. If you disagree with them, you obviously don’t care about mankind near as much as they do.

What they also don’t understand is that Justin Wilson cared about mankind much more than they ever would. He also cared deeply for the sport of IndyCar racing. He loved it so much that he actively served on a three-person committee devoted to the safety of IndyCar racing in order to improve the sport he loved so much.

In the next few months, there will be heated debate on safety issues, including enclosing the cockpits of Indy cars with canopies or some other structure. Whether or not you agree with that, the debate should take place before a conclusion is reached. But now is not the time for that debate. Neither was Sunday night. Since that is a long process anyway, that debate should hold off for a few weeks.

Now is the time for IndyCar fans to unite – not separate and run. We should all unite out of respect for Justin Wilson and the legacy he left behind. And above all else, please unite and keep the family of Justin Wilson in your thoughts and prayers. As much as we are hurting today, our lives will return to relative normalcy by next week. This horrible new chapter has just begun for his family and their lives will never be the same again.

May God bless and comfort the family of Justin Wilson.

George Phillips

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34 Responses to “The Sport That Justin Wilson Loved”

  1. Don’t forget to honor his memory by becoming an organ donor, if you aren’t already. I loved a quote from TK on his interview on Sportscenter. It was something like: “Before we just had one really tall Justin Wilson. Now, because of his donation, we have six.”

    Also, kudos to Graham Rahal who said he was going to try to organize another donation like he did for Dan Wheldon.

  2. George, I don’t have much more to add. I’ll deal with my grief and go forward as a fan.

  3. Great job George! I have watched enough racing to know when it’s bad, that drop in my stomach. Unfortunately, only one time I had that feeling, I was wrong, the rest, my worry was correct, a fatal accident. I had that all too painful feeling Sunday.

    I will admit, this one stings more than Wheldon for me. I don’t know the answer, it was a freak thing but also, this sport has been so dangerous this year. I will agree that knowing he is not suffering is some sick type of resolution for me. Sunday was restless, I got up a few times to check Twitter. Monday when the press conference tweet was sent I got that same pain in the stomach, knowing. When the AP jumped the gun and released the information before the presser started it was just a confirmation of what we all probably knew.

    In closing, I saw this on another site and it is so fitting for this situation and also something I will keep for my life:

    Everyone dies, so death is not tragic by itself, only too soon or too late. We all know a life can be well lived, even if it seems too short.

    • I don’t think it’s a sick resolution Andrew. The good thing is JW hardly even had a split second to realize what hit him and then it was lights out. That is the way to go in my opinion. I’m no doctor, but medically I don’t believe there is suffering there. And think of the spectacular life he lived.

      Thanks for the quote.

  4. Thank you George. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to hear the thoughts of a man who has seen, studied, read, experienced, and contemplated more than most and has a perspective on the sport of IndyCar racing that few others do. All these knee jerks will continue for a while and all it proves is the shallowness and limits of their commitment as fans. If they have not felt this way before about this sport, then they have not been fans very long. I cringe when I think about all the negative assessments and judgements that will be once again hurled at IndyCar racing. The only exposure IndyCar gets unfortunately is when a driver is taken away. Here is what gets me: if people understood that the drivers are more than well aware of the realities and the dangers of being a race car driver in this sport, they would respect drivers that much more for the commitment of doing what they do.

    For now we think of Justin Wilson and his family and if we think we are hurting, imagine what his family is feeling. I make a plea to the fans and media who read your blog George to quell your emotions and let the process work. F1 is already planning a test next month for a closed canopy. Looks like IndyCar is going be beat to the testing table which is an opportunity lost and is too bad. I deeply wish IndyCar got the jump on this but at least a competitor is taking this and running with it to the next level with testing. I will forgo my opinion about canopies but I think it is safe to say the process has already begun.

    Thanks again George.

  5. Are drivers truly more than aware of all the realities? Key word being “all”…of course, they are in general, but of late I worry that a lot of things have been decided and thrust upon drivers due to “limited resources” that, given proper analysis, should never have been.

    Case in point–Hinch’s accident this year. After previous A-arm intrusion incidents, anti-intrusion bars were added to the old car, but not to the DW12. TK asked the question as to why they were left out, and nearly immediately, the series allowed teams to modify the arms to add those. Hinch’s car was also running an older spec part that had been modified by Dallara specifically to help prevent such an incident–but did Hinch know that?

    Another common complaint from drivers now is that the rear aero pieces have substantially cut down on rearward vision and that has contributed to several incidents. How many of them were consulted during the design process? From that I read about HPD and Wirth’s effort, not many, if any.

    If we expect the drivers to put themselves in harm’s way for our entertainment, they deserve better.

    • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

      I still well and truly believe that IF Indycar (the FIA and F1 and and all manner of open-cockpit racing and all of the resources behind them) wish to have a ‘best solution’ ready for testing this winter, I think they could. It’s a matter of the will to do so and the money to fund it.

      I still think it prudent to not compete beyond Sonoma until driver safety for all manner of cockpit intrusions is addressed.

      Anti-intrusion bars being intentionally deleted from the DW12 design is astonishing (and yet a simple fix).

      The last major piece of the puzzle for driver safety is head protection from debris. Given the rate of incidents in the last 8 years, I don’t see how this isn’t Job #1 for Dallara and Indycar among others.

      Interestingly, the company who designed and built canopies for the NHRA is in Indy and is willing to discuss solutions ASAP.

  6. Jim Gallo Says:

    Thank you George. Well said. We all must remember to avoid the “knee jerk reactions” not only in this situation but many others we all face everyday. Stay strong fans, please!

  7. It really can’t be said any better George. Thank you for this perspective. Let me add, I know their is a fund set up for Justin’s children, but here is a website for Dyslexia Institute of Indiana, which Justin worked with, DIIN.ORG, and also who had this disorder. Listening to “Query and Schultz” show daily, Jake told the story of some relation of his, wanting to purchase a driver’s racing helmet, for his collection. Long story short, Justin was approached, and when giving the helmet to Jake, Justin’s comment was to make the check out to the Dyslexia Institute. Just another outpouring of his generosity. Just passing this along for your readers. When/If anyone should donate, you will receive in an email form, a receipt for tax purposes.

    Thanks also to Jake Query for his story, revealing another side of Justin that I was not aware of.

  8. If we are honest with ourselves, Football and soccer and skiing are more dangerous sports than auto racing. Yes, the injuries can prove immediately fatal in auto racing, yet the line of players with spinal injuries, knee injuries (look at a picture of Reggie Williams knees) and head injuries is a very long list. Quite a few suicides have been linked to head trauma from these sports, including an attempted suicide just a couple of days ago.

    But we seldom see the results immediately, if at all.

    The difference is the picture. You see it happen in auto racing. What happened to Justin Wilson was a fluke, although the cars are being developed to break apart on impact to disperse the energy from a collision, so there is going to be more debris. I am not sure a canopy would have made any difference in this case. It was a direct hit by one of the heaviest part of the car that is not tethered to the frame.

    If the fans want to watch something that is 100% safe, I’m sure chess is a fun sport to watch. But we are living in an age of irrationality, driven by emotion rather than logic. So I am not surprised to see some reacting in the way you have described. But if you are going to drive cars at 200+ miles an hour, the risk is there. Should we ban sky diving because the parachute might not open?

    Justin Wilson knew the risks and he was willing to take them. So do all the drivers. As a manager I have always believed that training is the key to safety, which is why I have often expressed concerns about the experience of some of the drivers (which had nothing to do with this but is part of my point). There is a lot that Indycar can do to make the overall experience safer without changing the sport. In business, for risk management, you have to do a cost/benefit analysis. If the change makes sense and the benefits outweigh the cost, you consider it. If not, you need to reject it. Fundamentally changing the sport to try to make it completely safe is a goal that will never be reached, and could cause major damage to the sport.

    Bottom line is there is no reason, honestly, to reject indycar in particular and auto racing in general because of what happened. Coming in today I saw on the highway sign that there have been 643 fatalities on Ohio roadways so far in 2015. Its a sobering thought and a reminder of how precious life is, and how quickly accidents can happen.

    • An Indycar race other than the 500 involves the same number of “players” as the 1st string offense & defense of a single NFL team. So a full ICS season of 16 races is roughly comparable to 8 NFL games when it comes to player exposure in the top level of each sport. The NFL plays 256 regular season games, 11 playoff games, plus 64 preseason games…a total of 321 games per season, which on an exposure basis is the same as 40 seasons of ICS racing. If we say a driver being killed every 4 yrs or so is to be expected, it’s like saying 10 player deaths per year in the NFL alone (not counting college, high school, or other levels) is acceptable. Would the American public think that was OK, or demand changes in the sport?

  9. Thank you George for your thoughtful comments; well done per usual. When a good person’s life is suddenly and unexpectedly taken away, in this sport or within our families, it can result in one questioning his faith. It seems I can’t turn to God for answers, as from what I’ve read, he has been busy advising presidential candidates.

    Justin was well known for his random acts of kindness. Now he has been randomly taken away. A second or two this way or that way, an inch or two this way or that way and he would still be with us. If there is any lesson in that, perhaps it is this. David Letterman once asked Warren Zevon, who was dying of cancer at the time, if he had any thoughts to pass on about the meaning of life. Warren simply said: “Enjoy that sandwich.” We can all try to live more in the moment, to appreciate and love on a daily basis the blessings that our families and our sport provide.

    I must admit to a bit of anger. I can’t help but wonder why some of the folks now heaping praise on Justin did not give him a job.

    I will remember Justin by trying to be more like him. Plenty of room for improvement here in that regard.

    Certainly the racing community can be counted on to help Justin’s family. Of course I will be part of that.

  10. I will remember Justin by trying to be more like him. Plenty of room for improvement here in that regard.

    Well said Ron. Here as well.

  11. Donald & Laurie McElvain Says:

    Thank you.

  12. billytheskink Says:

    Well said George.

    I think what always brings me back to racing after the loss of a driver is observing and understanding that as much as I love the sport, those who drive the cars themselves love it all the more. If we all checked out on Indycar today and the series was no more, would the drivers all simply retire from racing? Doubtful. Racers race.

    Nearly every week across the United States and around the globe there are thousands of people who show up to little dirt ovals and big winding road courses in trucks and vans and open trailers, who spend untold amounts of their own money and free time, who risk injury or worse, pretty much entirely for the love of competing and racing cars. To me, that’s remarkable to think about. People pay of their own accord for the privilege to race, to face the risks and dangers that come with that. Pretty much every professional racer was at this point some time in their careers, racing for little reward beyond their own satisfaction.

    No one enjoys the consequences that can result from taking on racing’s risks, but I certainly enjoy the sport when those consequences are not realized. If I enjoy the sport then, and those who compete enjoy it so much that they are willing to incur the risks that come with it, don’t they deserve my fandom? I always find myself saying yes, even in the aftermath of tragedy.

    Prayers for Justin’s family and friends.

    • Once again Billy I find it reassuring to come here at a dark time to find the very well thought out insightful perspectives of commenters such as yourself, George, and the others.

      • I agree with Ron. Thanks to you all for your comments and to George for his eloquence. It was awful being in the stands and watching the helicopter take off not knowing if Justin would recover. And even worse to learn of his passing a day later. I will mourn his loss for a long time, as I still do for Dan. Oh what could have been.

        My best to Justin’s family and to IndyCar’s extended family, which includes us the fans.

  13. Mark Wick Says:

    Well written George, and many of the commenters so far.
    This one really hurts, not that others haven’t.
    Many are grieving now, including all of us here at Oilpressure. Grief for each person is different, and there is no wrong way to grieve. It is a necessary process for everyone and it must be done as each of us feels it must be done.
    In 1976 I photographed a horrific sequence as rookie Eddie Miller slid into the ditch that was just inside the south short chute and flipped end over end before finally landing upside down between the inside spectator fence and the South Chute bleachers.
    I was right in front of his car after two spectators turned it over, and he was not moving. The first emergency worker felt for a pulse at his wrist then neck before sighing and saying to the other emergency personnel “Let’s get him out of the car.”
    As they were unbuckling his seatbelts, he blinked, looked up and starting talking to them.
    I continued to photograph because that was my job, as they wrapped him like a mummy and connected him to a backboard to slide him out of the car.
    I turned in my film, then went to the infield and sat in my car for several hours considering whether I would ever go back out to photograph racing again.

    (The next morning when the track opened, that ditch had been filled iin.)

    I did, and continued to cover the 500 and many other races in many series, at many tracks, several times nearly being killed by flying parts myself, until 1995 when I walked away from the 500 at the end of that race and stayed away from racing until 2000. I covered the 500 again from 2001 through 2003, then was a spectator for a few years before working on the Safety Patrol for three years.
    Today, the only sport I follow is IndyCar.

    I wwill be watching the race Sunday with great interest, but it won’t be the same as I anticipated it would be a week ago.

    My thoughts are also with Sage Karam. Some years ago at IMS I saw a croud of people at the base of the new Media Center and went over to find Rodger Ward in the center of the group, telling stories and anwereing questions. I don’t remember all of the details but I do remember him commenting that it still bothered him that it was a broken axle on his car that started the wreck that killed Bill Vukovitch. He knew he was not at fault, but it still bothered him.

    Sage Karam likely will never be quite the same. I hope he is, or will fiind peace with this unfortunate piece of racing history.

  14. We all wonder why oval IndyCar racing is dying and I have never heard, or thought, the reason may be the brutality of the worst case scenario. I cannot watch UFC because of the brutality. Perhaps others have the same thinking with IndyCars on ovals. Not that death cannot happen on a street or road course as Jules Bianchi and Paul Dana have proven, but the accidents on those circuits usually look a lot less violent.

    I for one am very excited about this final race. I suppose I am not as compassionate person as others. I do not care for the double points, but it sure makes the possibilities endless. I wouldn’t be shocked if Will Power somehow walks away with his 2nd straight championship. I still would love to read and discuss about many other aspects of the Pocono race that have never and apparently will never be discussed. I do not see why the race has to be ignored, but again, I suppose I am not as compassionate person as others.

    These guys and gals are driving a car at speeds over 230 MPH. For some reason people gloss over that fact. I think it is amazing death doesn’t happen more often.

    Cheers JW. You were a joy to watch in a racecar.

    • I too will be watching Sonoma this weekend, as I am sure many of us will. It doesn’t mean I won’t be sad Justin isn’t with us. As George said I think he would be disappointed if we weren’t.

  15. It is absolutely impossible for this sport to come together. It is also impossible to move beyond the political minutia.

    The negativity is deserved… We are four seasons into a car that has been designed before, and without regard to the head injury that took Weldon. We are four seasons into a car that failed to include many of the safety improvements from the previous car, some that reared their ugly head again in this car.

    Instead of talking about what could be done, we should be talking about the many, many actions that have been taken. We aren’t because political minutia has stakeholders arguing over whether they can make more than a couple of changes to the car.

    In 1996 there were high head supports in Michigan in May that were prohibited in Indy due to political minutia. Between May and the end of the season there were more variants of the head supports than there were races, including full height supports on both sides of the car. The teams, manufacturers and everyone in one segment of the support were allowed to and encouraged to make such changes. They were allowed to put parts on the car and run wherever and whenever they wanted to test them.

    There was once a day when damaging the car and taking it behind the wall meant you were done for the day, as well you should be because if you’re not racing for a position you aren’t racing. Making pointless laps just to rack up more than a car that crashed later in the race isn’t sporting and it isn’t racing, but points call for it. Nose cones shouldn’t fly because they shouldn’t be quick change. If you can’t keep your nose clean you shouldn’t be racing for position later in the race.

    None of this was tradition, it was contrived Indycar competition. The same contrived competition that created closed pit lanes for no reason just so everyone can race each other extremely close to people. Again, safety not a priority (Hit a hose, punt a crew member, spin or hit another car in the pits and Indycar gives you nothing, but 1mph at the point in the pits furthest from human contact gets you a black flag).

    There should be absolute outrage that we are truly 5 years out from real change. This sport does not need a bandaid stuck to the current car. It needs development, iteration and new cars.

    This sport can’t get its heads together enough to get a clean start or restart… how in the world are they going to miraculously put their heads together and come up with a single solution for the problem we know to be the biggest safety issue for Indycar? Does anybody honestly expect the sport that saw aerokits delayed for years to implement an optimal solution to the problem quickly ?

    The era of dictating who can make what cars needs to end. The era of running the same design for 5-10 years needs to end.

    Indycar can’t take quick action on a fuel nozzle ripped out during the race, even after the television crew brings it to their attention… yet the idea is that we rally around this organization in feigned hope that they quickly address a real safety issue.

    The safety of Indycar needs to be decried. Everyone knew this risk was the leading risk for Indycar. Everybody in the sport has talked about it. The guy in charge of it talked about it.

    The time for talking and debate is over. Indycar hasn’t done it. Indycar isn’t built to do it. Indycar needs to get out of the way and let those willing and able to make design changes get to work. Indycar needs those not named Dallara to be permitted to field their own version and let iterative improvements determine what will be the best solution.

    The solution isn’t coming from a conference room. It will be honed on the track.

    • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

      I’ve had many of the same thoughts and there’s no outrage, at most only sad resignation that “this is how it is”.

      I’ve been around long enough to know whenever anyone says that to me, I’m can be 99% certain they’re saying that to protect something (and it’s probably something that doesn’t need protected or preserved). Hearing that phrase yet again only serves to make me angrier for how little they actually value their ‘heroes’ as humans.

      Several drivers have dodged fatal bullets is recent history. Some other other haven’t.

      Indycar and F1 should be outright embarrassed that this still happens in this day and age.

      There’s no denying that fatalities will happen in the most unusual ways in most anything we encounter, but especially in the last 5 years, to not address the most glaring and overt remaining weakness (cockpit intrusions) of this format of automotive entertainment, is the very definition of negligence.

      • I’m sorry, there is no embarrassment in open wheel racing and there shouldn’t be. They have nothing to be embarrassed about. It seems you folks cannot tell the difference between a completely FREAK ACCIDENT and negligence and I’m appalled! If you truly believe what you stated above then the drivers who get IN THE CARS THEMSELVES should be charged with negligence by their families and friends! However, THEY UNDERSTAND the inherent danger that has been in open-wheel open-cockpit racing for over 100 years! Why don’t you, nads and everyone else wringing their hands at this unfortunate turn of events understand this fact? Do you even realize they ran the Indianapolis 500 after Eddie Sachs was killed instantly in a horrendous fire and Dave MacDonald was fighting for his life (and later died) on the SECOND LAP of the Indianapolis 500 in 1964? And don’t give me the tired cliche` “that was a different time” nonsense because they were still human beings in front of hundreds of thousands of human beings with feelings and emotions? Do you know that happened? And that’s just one example.

        Nobody is holding a gun to these driver’s heads to get in a car and risk their lives, but you all should understand this: if NOBODY came to a single race those drivers would still be out there trying to “push the envelope” and pass the driver in front of them at some unknown track somewhere. PERIOD. It’s what they LOVE, it’s what they do.

        I wonder how many of you were screaming about our space program after August 1, 1967? Or January 28, 1986, or February 1, 2003? We are talking about the same sort of people who get into situations like this one. Sometimes bad things happen. You know there are thousands of people who perish in car crashes every year here in the US? Why aren’t you bellyaching about them?

        Again, there is NO NEGLIGENCE on the part of IndyCar or anyone else, the only negligence here is from the folks who want to come down hard on something they cannot control to the detriment and ruination of a wonderful sport that has lasted over 100 years without their knee-jerk meddling.

        Phil Kaiser
        Indianapolis

  16. Mike Silver Says:

    Well done, George. “Because we do” is why I will love IndyCar racing always. Do fatalities cut deep? Yes. Should improvements in safety continue to be explored? Yes. Safety has come a long way. No measures are 100% foolproof. Not every contingency can be covered.
    It will take time and research to find a god solution to this issue.
    I respect everyone’s opinion. Let’s get through this weekend then begin the debate and search for a solution.

  17. This was well written, and reading everyone’s different perspectives has helped me try to wrestle with my conflicting emotions on this. I agree that because of the fan access to drivers and teams in IndyCar, which to me is really unlike any other series or sporting event, it makesk a loss like this deeper and more personal than other tragedies you may hear about.

    I do feel guilt that JW simply died for my entertainment…a sentiment I’ve seen expressed in another well written blog. That I paid some money to sit in the stands that day and put someone’s dad/husband/child at risk simply to entertain myself for a few hours. I wonder if when JW’s girls grow up if they will resent that fact, or be able to come to understand why drivers do what they do.

    I’m also conflicted on the argument we should just move on because “Justin would want us too”. A part of me thinks we are saying this to convince ourselves that is it ok to keep watching, or rather, enjoying, this spectacle. I don’t know if it’s true. If you told Justin before the race that someone would be killed that day…that someone’s spouse/parent/child wouldn’t be going home that day…would the response be “well, racers race”? Or would he do what he could to stop or prevent it?

    Sorry for the existential thoughts…again, I appreciate all the different comments and respect each side of the argument.

    • JW didn’t die simply for your entertainment or anyone else’s. I was not aware Justin and the other drivers were forced to be race drivers. This isn’t the Christians against the Lions in the Roman Colosseum.

      I would recommend if you are so morally conflicted that you not attend the auto racing and quite a number of other sports. Not football, with all its head injuries. Or skiing with its legendary fatalities and destroyed knees. Michael Schumacher wasn’t injured severely because of auto racing. Baseball has its own list of fatalities and severe injuries from the big leagues down to little leagues.

      This is a specious argument at best.

      • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

        I’m not sure trivializing someone else’s processing of thoughts or feelings reflects very well on your ability to empathize with anyone who doesn’t think as you do.

        • I also think attacking those of us that enjoy auto racing and questioning out motives shows much either.

          • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

            I’m sorry if you feel attacked. That is not my intent at all, but your “go away if you don’t like it” attitude is one that appears arrogant an unwilling to acknowledge opinions other than yours.

            No one is saying you cannot believe what you want nor would I want or expect your beliefs trivialized. I just expect people other than yourself to expect the same respect from you.

        • Perhaps processing one’s “feelings” and “thoughts” should be done in private like in the old days. You put it out here and you’re fair game, sorry….

          • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

            So if someone shares a viewpoint other than your own, it’s OK to have it belittled? Good to know Phil. I’ll keep that in mind.

  18. Justin Wilson’s death is incredibly tragic. I agree with George that the racing should continue. That said Sonoma is going to take place under a rather dark cloud. With what happened to Jules, not to mention Wheldon’s death a few years ago and Hinch’s near miss this May it’s not a great time for open wheel racing, and I don’t know how you dissipate this dark cloud. I also agree that right after a tragedy is a bad time to debate safety because it’s hard for it to be a true debate, rather than a very emotional exchange. And in a lot of cases it diminishes what the focus should be on, Justin Wilson, and his wonderful contributions to the world.

    I do think closed cockpits are worth considering, but I do not think it is Indycar’s “fault” Wilson died or that this was “inevitable,” but for having cockpits.

    Wilson’s death hurts a lot though, I can’t deny that. I really thought he’d pull through like Hinchcliffe did earlier this year and that everything would be fine. I think racing again this weekend is in a lot of ways a good thing… it will rip the band aid off so to speak. But it will be tough… I can’t deny that.

  19. Automobile racing is a dangerous sport. Always was. Always will be. At any speed, on any type of track. The drivers know it’s dangerous and race anyway–not for us–but because it’s what they want to do and love to do (see Kanaan statement.) Making cars safer should always be a main concern and racing as a whole is much safer now than it’s ever been–but improvements in safety should never make us think it’s not still a risky and sometimes deadly sport. While the loss of Justin Wilson is sad beyond belief, I’ll look forward to the next race, and the next year.

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