The daring moves and steely determination of Justin Wilson have been remembered at the IndyCar driver’s funeral three weeks after his death during a race.
Former Formula One teammate Mark Webber and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti helped carry the coffin, draped in a Union Jack, into a church near the central England circuit of Silverstone on Thursday.
Hundreds of mourners, including three-time F1 champion Jackie Stewart, packed into the St James and Great Church while Paulerspury residents gathered outside to hear the service relayed over a speaker.
A poem written by Wilson’s wife, Julia, in the days after the 37-year-old’s death was read out.
“It’s not fair you had such a short life,” it said.
Wilson’s daughters Jane and Jessica left hand-written notes on wreathes.
“I feel sad and I miss you. Love Jane,” read one. The other simply said: “Daddy I love you. Jessica.”
Wilson died on August 23, a day after being hit in the helmet by debris at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.
Wilson won seven times over 12 seasons in open-wheel racing and finished as high as fifth in the Indianapolis 500.
“Justin had raw talent in abundance,” former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer told mourners.
“His overtaking skills were incredible … and he would always achieve this cleanly and fairly.”
Delivering the eulogy, Palmer added: “Justin had a steely determination in a race car with the most relaxed amiable disposition.”
Palmer helped create a program in 2003 that allowed fans to invest in Wilson’s career.
An acclaimed sports car racer, Wilson won the 24 Hours of Daytona with Michael Shank Racing and competed in F1 in 2003 before moving to the US to join Champ Car where he finished third in the standings in 2005 and was runner-up in 2006 and 2007.
“He won some races in some equipment that honestly probably shouldn’t have won races, Franchitti said.”
Wilson returned to drive from a broken back in 2011 and a broken pelvis in 2013.
“We know the dangers are always there,” Webber, a teammate of Wilson’s at Jaguar in the 2003 F1 season, said at Silverstone following the service.
“Motorsport has had good and bad patches when it comes to these tragic events. When it is really close to home then it hits you even harder. This is very close to home personally for me.”
Wilson’s death has prompted renewed calls for greater protection, including closed cockpits, coming a month after F1 driver Jules Bianchi died following nine months in a coma after a massive head injury in a crash last October.
“It is inevitable (closed cockpits) will probably happen,” Webber said.