IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died Monday night from a head injury suffered when a piece of debris struck him at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the series announced. He was 37.
A British driver who lived outside Denver, Wilson was hit in the head during Sunday's race by piece of debris that had broken off another car. Wilson's car veered into an interior wall at the track, and he was swiftly taken by helicopter to a hospital in Allentown, Pa.
"Can't even begin to describe the loss I feel right now," tweeted his younger brother, Stefan, also an IndyCar driver. Stefan Wilson said his brother's organs would be donated.
The last IndyCar driver to die because of an on-track incident was Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, who was killed in the 2011 season finale at Las Vegas.
After Wheldon's death, Wilson became one of three driver representatives to serve as a liaison between the competitors and IndyCar. It was no surprise: The 6-foot-4 Wilson, easily the tallest in the series, was well-liked.
"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," said Mark Miles, CEO of the parent company of IndyCar.
Wilson won seven times over 12 seasons in open-wheel racing. An acclaimed sports car racer, he won the 24 Hours of Daytona, and he competed in 20 Formula One races in 2003.
He broke a bone in his back at Mid-Ohio in 2011. He also broke his pelvis and suffered a bruised lung in the 2013 season finale at Fontana. He once said that his injuries and Wheldon's death did nothing to change his perspective or make him question his career choice.
"You've got to know the risks and work out if those risks are acceptable," Wilson told the Associated Press in 2012. "To me, it's acceptable. But I'm not going to stop trying to improve it. All the drivers, this IndyCar, we're always trying to make it safer, but at the end of the day, it's a race car. We're racing hard, we're racing IndyCars and it's fast. When it goes wrong, it can get messy."