Genuine. King. Giving. Easygoing. Smart. Caring. Modest.
Friend. Son. Brother. Husband. Father.
Justin Wilson was many things. And they were all positive. It's been said by many over the last 24 hours that you can't find someone that has a negative thing to say about the 37-year-old Brit. But it's true.
As I sit here in bed next to my girlfriend, both sobbing, watching the official announcement from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I think back on one of my first interactions with Justin. It came in May of 2010. I had interviewed drivers before, but always either over the phone or via email.
I was always too nervous to sit down and interview a driver in person. I was young and stupid. I knew that I would mumble and fumble and jumble my words, looking like a complete idiot. And I obviously didn't want that.
Walking the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garages one sunny practice day that May I saw Justin. He was signing for fans, as he often would. Taking pictures, smiling and doing everything he could to make the growing group happy.
His demeanor was calming. Similar to what I would think a Psychiatrist would be. Relaxing. Like watching a Newton's Cradle. It put me at ease. As I stood there watching fan after fan walk away with an enormous smile on their face after their interaction with the 6-foot-something driver, I slid my hand into my pocket. I always used to walk around with the thick black digital recorder, but it rarely saw action.
As the final fans had their pictures taken and memorabilia signed and as the entry to his Dreyer and Reinbold garage began to clear out, I approached. My hand sweaty, I reached for a handshake. I introduced myself, still not sure how he could decipher my mushed words, and asked if I could have a few minutes. With the biggest grin on his face he of course obliged.
Halfway through my first questions he stuck his hand out to stop me. My nerves returned.
"Hey, it's too loud out here. Do you want to come inside?" he asked.
"Uhhh, sure," I replied. Sounding like that same idiot that I feared I would.
He of course led the way. Opening the large, heavy, tan door, insisting I enter first. The nerves once again dissolved.
The interview continued and although I'm positive he could sense the inexperience of a 20-year-old kid, he was a total pro. As he always was.
Quite simply Justin Wilson was just a good guy.
Justin leaves behind his wife, Julia, and two daughters, Jane and Jessica.
In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up to benefit Wilson's children. Donations can be sent to:
Wilson Children's Fund
4551 W. 16th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46222
You'll be missed.
Racing Community Statements
The Wilson Family:Godspeed, JW.