INDIANAPOLIS – Stefan Wilson has good reason to hold a grudge against IndyCar racing. His brother, Justin Wilson, was tragically killed in a crash at Pocono in August of 2015 when a piece of a wrecked race car bounced off the track and hit Wilson in his helmet. Everything the younger Wilson had ever strived for, was gone in an instant.
It was always Wilson’s goal to race in the Indy 500 alongside his big brother. That dream was dashed on that August day in 2015. He did get to race with him once, as a teammate with Dale Coyne Racing at Baltimore in 2013. But, other than that, he was always trying to catch his big break into the premiere series while cheering on his best friend, his mentor and older brother in the process.
No one would have blamed him if he stepped away from those dreams. Instead, though, he tried harder and harder, this time wanting to honor his brother.
Last April, he did just that with support from the Indiana Donor Network (Justin Wilson was a donor). He secured a seat for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 with a third KVSH Racing entry. Wilson, 27, finished 28th in his Indy debut driving the No. 25 entry honoring his brother.
Fast forward 12 months, Wilson was soon to announce a deal with Andretti Autosport for this year’s race. The ride was his. He had funding and a second chance at the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Then, a huge call came. On the other end of his phone, was Mark Miles, CEO of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Before Miles dialed Stefan though, he called all the other Honda teams and the even the manufacturer itself. He needed a car, one for Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso. The reason Miles was calling everybody he could, exhausting every effort, turning every stone, was due to the fact that his old friend, Zak Brown, was calling him previously. Brown, is the new man in charge of Formula One, previously was with McLaren, needed a favor from his old buddy. Who was one of Brown’s drivers at McLaren?
Who was calling his former boss and current head of F1 about racing in the Indy 500?
Who does Alonso drive for in F1?
McLaren, who oh by the way, is a Honda team.
See the connection.
Brown called Miles, obviously both knew the impact that Alonso would have in racing on his series’ grandest stages. That’s why Miles was calling anybody associated with Honda. The only problem was, no rides were available. Honda didn’t have any cars left and it was too of short notice to make anything happen.
The last option, the only option left to get Alonso to Indy, was making that hard phone call to Wilson. They needed his car.
Wilson, heartbroken about losing his brother and trying everything he can do to have another shot at Indy to honor his best friend, had a chance of a lifetime with a team that has won two of the last three Indy 500’s. This was the team his brother was driving for when he tragically lost his life. This was a moment that would have come full circle for him. It was his big break that he’s been searching for during his entire racing career. He finally found it.
Now, here’s the CEO calling needing a favor. He’s asking a race car driver, to give up his ride, his only shot of racing this year, to another driver.
What did Wilson do?
He gave up his seat.
What kind of man would do this?
In a day and age with so much hate and drama filled through this Earth, we’re missing out on stories like this. Guys like Wilson, who would volunteer his ride for the greater good of a series, is an incredible act of kindness. To me, this unselfless act is honoring his brother. To me, Wilson is already an Indy 500 champion in my book. There’s no greater act of kindness that he can do. He’s as good as a man this Earth offers.