Every year shortly after midnight a tweet is sent out from the late Justin Wilson’s Twitter account. It is a simple message just saying Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing the tweet every year and we receive a small gift from a favorite driver. Justin’s brother, Stefan, has said that they don’t know how long the tweet is set to repeat but I hope it stays permanently.
Today after seeing the message I thought about Justin and how great he was both in the car and with the fans. He was our favorite driver. Hmm? I actually say that about a handful of drivers. Can you have multiple favorites?
As a young girl my best friend was a girl named Jenny. Jenny was born on the same day I was and we loved playing on the swing set and with our Tiffany Taylor dolls. My family moved away but we remained friends for several years, writing letters and occasionally visiting in person. Eventually, we lost touch with each other but I will always remember her as my best friend.
During my high school and college years my best friend and roommate was Cindi. Cindi still remains a very close friend but our lives have moved in different directions. We’ve recently been talking more but we went nearly 20 years with very little contact. However, when I introduce her I say she is my best friend.
Currently, and for the last nearly two decades, Kristen is my best friend. We raised our kids together, are involved in several activities together and our husbands are friends. Kristen is the one I call when I have news to share, good or bad. She is definitely a best friend.
Of course, my sister Pam, has always been my best friend and confidant. I also have several woman from my church who have been there for me in so many ways. Can you really choose just one best friend?
If choosing a best friend is hard then how can you ever choose a favorite IndyCar driver?
A J Foyt is the reason I am a fan. I would not be following this sport if not for first reading his biography. Shortly after that I began watching the Indianapolis 500. A couple years later I attended Time Trials and saw AJ take his final laps on Pole Day 1993 as he retired. I had the pleasure of meeting AJ a couple brief times but one year at Road America I was able to enjoy a short conversation with him and bawled like a baby after because I was beyond thrilled to finally meet AJ and thank him for introducing me to IndyCar. I will always consider AJ to be my favorite.
After AJ retired I began following Arie Luyendyk. Arie was very different than AJ and I had more of a crush on Arie and his beautiful hair so I liked him for completely different reasons. Arie was fast and still holds the speed record at Indy. I did not cry when I met Arie so I guess he is a favorite but not the favorite.
After Arie, Tony Kanaan was the driver I followed most closely. I liked Tony from the start, long before I even realized how popular he really was with the fans. Tony is a blast to watch on the track and a prankster off the track. I did cry when he won the Indy 500 in 2013. I have not had the pleasure of really meeting Tony but he was always my pick for winning the Indy 500.
My sons had their own favorites. After a quick crush on Danica Patrick, Zach quickly chose James Hinchcliffe as his favorite. Any reader of my blog can quickly point out several reasons why we all consider James to be a favorite. He is also the driver we probably know the best and he will recognize us at a race. Matthew chose a different driver. He chose someone who was a bit quieter than James or any of the previously mentioned drivers. Someone who was incredibly talented and let his driving and leadership skills speak for him rather than being a prankster or flashy. The driver Matthew chose was Justin Wilson.
When Matthew chose Justin I liked that choice but honestly didn’t know too much about him. Justin was driving the McDonald’s car so that was what first attracted Matthew. We made a point of trying to meet him at a kids club event and Justin showed up because of a tweet I sent saying I hoped he would be there. He was unaware of the event but I sent the details and he showed up. He made us fans for life that day. Over the next few years he never disappointed. Justin always took time to talk with fans in person or answering tweets. He won on the track with different teams and one can only imagine how amazing he would have done with Andretti Autosport. When Justin lost his life in the Pocono race it hit my family hard. Matthew had talked with Justin just a month earlier at the Milwaukee race. Justin signed Matthew’s shirt for the second time (the first was nearly faded) and took an incredible selfie with him (which remains my lock screen on my phone). Matthew walked in after learning of his death and handed me his shirt. Matthew wore that shirt all the time but now he wanted to give it to me. I struggled for several days feeling very sad and depressed. Wishing I could do more for the family and IndyCar community. It’s odd to grieve someone you don’t really know and yet know so well. It was just a heartbreaking time. I don’t know any other way to describe Justin than as our favorite driver.
If you are counting I’m up to five drivers that are favorites and with the exception of Tony Kanaan in an Indy 500 only car none of them are currently racing so it’s time for a new favorite. I have a few I’m keeping my eye on. Rinus VeeKay and David Malukas are among them. They have big shoes to fill.
So how do you feel? Do you have multiple favorites? Or is a favorite just that “a” favorite and you can only have one? Today after checking Twitter and seeing the now famous tweet I smiled and remembered how much we loved Justin. I know he will always remain on the top of our favorite list.