Yesterday evening IndyCar driver Justin Wilson was airlifted to a hospital from Pocono Raceway after being struck in the head with a piece of debris during a race. As of the latest update, he remains in critical condition in a coma. Others in motorsports have shown an outpouring of support for Wilson and his family.
During yesterday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, Sage Karam’s number 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet spun out from the lead on lap 179 of 200. Karam was low on the track’s banking, but spun out into the outside wall at the exit of Turn 1.
Debris from Karam’s car went flying across the track. Karam’s nosecone, a heavy piece meant to withstand hard impacts that is often weighed down with metal ballast, struck Wilson’s helmet as Wilson drove his number 25 Andretti Autosport Honda around Turn 1. Wilson then became a passenger in his own race car, striking the interior wall.
Karam took a massive hit, but was conscious afterwards and was able to be helped out of his race car relatively quickly by IndyCar’s Holmatro Safety Team. Karam was taken off-site via ground transportation for evaluation an unspecified right foot injury.
According to Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, Wilson was unconscious after the hit. He was airlifted to Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital for evaluation of a severe head injury. As of the last update at 1:08 p.m. today from the IndyCar series, Wilson remains in a coma in critical condition at the hospital’s intensive care unit in Allentown, PA.
What we don’t know at the moment are specifics — neither Wilson’s head injury nor Karam’s foot injury have been disclosed through any official or family sources. Many of those close to Wilson have urged others not to speculate on Wilson’s condition.
Here are the latest updates posted by Justin’s brother, Stefan Wilson:
Here’s but a small slice of the massive outpouring of support for Wilson as he recovers from yesterday’s crash.
One of the hardest things to cope with for many drivers, friends and teammates has been waiting for updates on a beloved competitor’s condition.
“My first thoughts are with Justin, for sure,” Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay told USA Today. “He’s a friend, a teammate, and it’s a bit hard not knowing anything.”
Driver Juan Pablo Montoya echoed Hunter-Reay’s sentiments.
“This year we had the incident with Hinch, and we’re glad he’s OK,” Montoya said to USA Today. “He can’t wait to get back in the car. This is a tough break, but it’s hard to saying anything because nobody knows.”
USA Today published an excellent summary of the paddock’s reaction to Wilson’s crash, as journalist Brant James was there at Pocono and could gauge the reaction on the ground. There was no huge uproar from drivers and teams about safety, aero kits or the quality of racing after Pocono. Many even felt as if it was a good race aside from the Karam/Wilson incident, but after that, everyone was first and foremost concerned for Wilson, his wife and their two daughters.
Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports even expressed their concern for Wilson as the race was still in progress via their team Twitter account:
Everyone’s thoughts were on Wilson’s condition, hoping for any updates at all that would confirm that he would be okay after a terrifying accident.
Post-race activities were subdued. In place of the usual confetti and celebrations were prayers for Wilson and his family. Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti looked visibly shaken in post-race interviews as well.
Driver Ed Carpenter explained to USA Today how the IndyCar family reacts in a time of need:
We just pull together. It’s all we can do. Justin, a lot of us have been doing this a long time and when we started we didn’t have families. Now we have families. I know my wife has already talked to Julia (Wilson) and everyone is kind of figuring out how they can help get everyone where they need to be and pray and hope for the best.
Wilson in particular has been one of the kindest characters in the IndyCar paddock. He’s been competing in American open-wheel racing since 2004, and started driving the Andretti Autosport car this year to help get the Hondas on pace after the new aero kits were implemented.
“It’s one of our guys,” driver Juan Pablo Montoya told USA Today. “We’re all family here. We might not like each other all of the time, but we’re family. We understand the risk, and we’re hoping that it’s not too bad.”
Conor Daly posted a photo of drivers getting together after the incident to collectively wish Justin well:
As for the other driver in the incident, Sage Karam expressed his well-wishes via Twitter much later the night of the crash:
Here’s a sampling of other posts of support from the IndyCar community:
There may be many different kinds of motorsport, but for the most part, it’s a small tight-knit community that comes together whenever a driver anywhere, in any series is in need of support. Here is but a small sampling of the messages of support from drivers, series and personalities all over the world:
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