Aug 26, 2015

    Death of IndyCar's Wilson puts spotlight on safety


    THE death of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson has once again raised questions over the safety of motor racing.

    IndyCar officials announced on Monday that the Briton had died from severe head injuries he suffered in a crash at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania the previous day.

    Wilson slammed into a wall after he was struck in the helmet by debris from another car he was following. He was airlifted to hospital but never regained consciousness.

    Loved ones of the Sheffield-born Andretti Autosport racer had flown to be at his bedside at Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown before his death was announced.

    "This is a monumentally sad day for IndyCar and the motor sports community as a whole," said Mark Miles, chief executive of the parent company which runs IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    "Justin's elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility - which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock."

    Wilson's younger brother Stefan, also a racing driver, paid tribute on Twitter. "Can't even begin to describe the loss I feel right now. He was my brother, my best friend, my role model and mentor. He was a champion!" he wrote.

    As tributes began flowing in, there were renewed calls for a review of safety in the sport.

    "Safety is not one of those things that (just) because you have a clear record for a certain amount of stop doing development," former race driver Eddie Cheever told ESPN.

    "I think that it is time that solutions are looked for and I think it is time that the drivers get together and come up with a few ideas and I sincerely hope that some progress will be made on this issue."

    Since 1966, there have been 18 deaths in IndyCar, including the series' previous incarnations as Champ Car, Cart and Indy Racing League.

    The last driver killed in IndyCar was Wilson's fellow Englishman Dan Wheldon, who died in a fiery crash in Las Vegas in 2011.