Long Beach – Stephen Wilson was standing just off the Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach Track, just a VIP ride in an IndyCar two-seater. Talking to a reporter, he was just as gracious and super friendly as his brother Justin.
Justin Wilson was not only a fan of the Long Beach street circuit, he was beloved by the media, as he treated everyone with nothing but respect.
It was Tuesday morning, and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Media Day was in full swing for the September 26th race that would conclude the season. It was a difficult moment for Stephen Wilson as he was asked to talk about his older brother Justin, who died on August 24, 2015, a day after the wreckage of Rishi Karam’s crashed car came under and collided with Wilson’s helmet on the track. At Pocono Raceway.
Justin Wilson was 37 years old. He has never won at Long Beach, but he has been on the podium three times – he was second in 2006 and 2010, and third in 2013, when he started in 24th place.
It has been six years since his death. Times haven’t made things any easier for the Wilson family.
“Yeah, it was really tough and it’s tough even now,” said 31-year-old Stephen Wilson. “It hasn’t really changed. Knowing his race was such a big part of our lives, we miss him as a person, but miss being able to watch him race because that’s what he did best.
“I think over time we’ve learned to deal with it and process it, but we still miss him every day.”
“Man, just doing the best we can and trying to stay strong, like he’ll do, you know?” Wilson said.
England’s Wilson doesn’t have a full-time ride in IndyCar, but that’s what he aims for. He finished third in series points at the Indy Lights for Andretti Autosport in 2011, finishing third at Long Beach. He has also competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 and this year finished in 2018 at 15th place.
Despite his brother’s track-related death, there was no way for Stephen Wilson to hang up his driving suit afterwards. He said he never thought twice about it.
“No, not at all, really,” he said. “Because I think we all accept what’s possible with it and we all know that what happened to Justin is a risk that we all take. So we already accepted that the danger in the game And so, it didn’t really change anything for me.
However, it served him more of a purpose.
Wilson said of his older brother, “There were certain things he wanted to do in his career that he never got a chance to because his life was short.” “So it determined me to try and achieve that for myself and for him.”
Stephen Wilson is pointing to the Indianapolis 500. Justin finished fifth there in 2013.
“That’s something I think, after all, he would have won that race in a few more tries,” Stephen Wilson said. “I was able to see him, see him around that race and see how determined he was, how hungry he was when the month of May went into that.
“That was something he really wanted to take off his racing bucket list. And so, yes, I just have that determination to try and win that race for him and the Wilson family. .
His 15th place there in 2018 was an eye-opener.
“Yeah, we were leading with four laps to go,” Wilson said. “But we were on an alternate strategy, the strategy didn’t quite work for us, so we had to ditch and refuel. But, yeah, I got a taste of it right there, how could it be, that it’s possible. “
Stephen Wilson, like Justin, is 6-foot-3 1/2–tall for an IndyCar driver. Stephen has the same infectious smile that his brother had.
presence must be strong
This will be Long Beach’s first Acura Grand Prix since 2019. The 2020 event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this year’s race was pushed back from its usual month of April. Still, Jim Michelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, said ticket sales are going well.
“They are good,” he said. “The response has been very positive.”
Michaelian said the state obliges fans to wear mask, and the city of Long Beach wants proof of either vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
“There was some concern about how our pre-sales would be impacted and (with very few exceptions) most people have agreed to go through the process and it looks like they are joining us here. Will be.” Michaelian said.
Round 7 of the Formula Drift Series will be on tap at the Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach Track this Friday and Saturday. The venue opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, 11 a.m. Friday, with the championship finals starting at 3:30 a.m. Saturday.
Drifters practiced on Tuesday and also gave VIP rides.