TIME racing

IndyCar Driver Justin Wilson Dies of Head Injury

He had been hit in the head with debris during a race

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson has died from a head injury suffered when a piece of debris struck him at Pocono Raceway. He was 37.

IndyCar made the announcement on Monday night at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Wilson is a British driver who lived outside Denver in Longmont, Colorado. He was hit in the head during Sunday’s race by a 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, Pennsylvania.

“Can’t even begin to describe the loss I feel right now. He was my Brother, my best friend, my role model and mentor. He was a champion!” his younger brother, Stefan, also an IndyCar driver, tweeted.

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 his head hit a post when his car went airborne.

“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 Hulman & Co., the parent company of IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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.

He won seven times over 12 seasons in open-wheel racing and finished as high as fifth in the Indianapolis 500. An acclaimed sports car racer, Wilson won the prestigious 24 Hours of Daytona with Michael Shank Racing, and he competed in 20 Formula One races in 2003 before moving to the U.S. to join Champ Car.

He finished third in the Champ Car standings in 2005, and was runner-up in both 2006 and 2007. To support his career, his management team in 2003 created a program that allowed fans to invest in the driver. Hundreds of people bought shares in Wilson, who was dyslexic and a strong supporter of foundations related to the disorder.

Wilson, a native of Sheffield, England, entered this season without a full-time ride. He latched on with Andretti Autosport and was in the sixth of seven scheduled races with the team. The agreement began as a two-race deal for events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and then was increased to the final five races of the year. The IndyCar season concludes Sunday in Sonoma, California.

Andretti Autosport called Wilson “a tremendous racer, a valuable member of the team and respected representative to our sport.”

“While Justin was only part of the Andretti lineup for a short time, it only took a second for him to forever become part of the Andretti family,” the team said. “His life and racing career is a story of class and passion surpassed by none. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Wilson family and fans worldwide. Godspeed, JW.”

Wilson finished a season-best second at Mid-Ohio in early August. He said after the race that he raced clean and did not take any risks that would have jeopardized eventual race-winner Graham Rahal because Rahal was part of the championship race and Wilson was not.

Wilson broke a bone in his back at Mid-Ohio in 2011. He missed the final six races of the season and wore a back brace for more than two months while he was restricted from any physical activity. The injury kept him out of the season finale at Las Vegas, the race where Wheldon died. He also broke his pelvis and suffered a bruised lung in the 2013 season finale at Fontana.

Wilson 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 upon his return to racing 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.”

In addition to his wife, Julia, Wilson has two daughters, 7 and 5.

___

AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston contributed to this report.

TIME Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick Announces Her New Sponsor

AdvoCare 500
Jerry Markland / Getty Images Danica Patrick during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 10, 2013 in Avondale, Arizona.

Patrick's racing future was unclear after losing her GoDaddy sponsorship.

NASCAR racer Danica Patrick has a new sponsor — Nature’s Bakery, a company that makes fig bars.

When GoDaddy, Patrick’s previous sponsor, announced that it was ending its sponsorship, Patrick’s future with Stewart-Haas racing was uncertain, USA Today reports. Nature’s Bakery saved her by signing on as a sponsor.

The company is a surprising choice, considering its small size. They have about 400 employees and have only been going since 2010. But co-founder Dave Marson claims, “We’re not as small as you think. We’re a global brand. We produced over 600 million fig bars this year, so we’re big enough to handle it.” Marson told USA Today that the company has a five-year plan for substantial growth, and he hopes Patrick and Stewart-Haas Racing will be able to help with that.

Patrick and Nature’s Bakery were brought together by Haas Automation, a company owned by Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. Nature’s Bakery buys tools from Haas’ company and was connected to Patrick through one of his sales representatives.

Patrick and Nature’s Bakery both believe it’s a good fit. The racer says that the company “lines up perfectly” with her own health-conscious lifestyle. During the press conference she said, “Authenticity is hard to come by, but recognized. And I think people are going to recognize its authenticity as we go along.”

TIME Cycling

Tour de France Leader Tony Martin Has Dropped Out Because of a Shattered Collarbone

France Cycling Tour de France
Stephane Mantey—AP Germany's Tony Martin, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, lies on the road with a broken collar bone after crashing in the last kilometers of the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 191.5 kilometers (119 miles) with start in Abbeville and finish in Le Havre, France, July 9, 2015

Britain's Chris Froome, who was 12 seconds behind Martin, will now move into the overall lead

Tour de France leader Tony Martin has been forced to drop out of the race after a serious crash on July 9 left him with a shattered collarbone.

The crash, which took place during the last kilometer of stage six between Abbeville and Le Havre, involved several other riders, but none were as seriously injured. Martin, however, was left with a collarbone in “lots of pieces,” team doctor Helge Riepenhof told the BBC.

“One of the pieces came through the skin, which means it’s an open fracture. Therefore, even if it was Tony’s wish to start tomorrow, I have to say he is not allowed to,” he said. Despite his injuries, Martin was still able to pick himself up and crossed the stage six finish line with help from his teammates.

Martin will be flown to BG Hospital in Hamburg for surgery, moving Britain’s Chris Froome, who was 12 seconds behind Martin, into the overall lead. This is not the first time this year that a leader has had to exit the race: Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara pulled out on July 6 after he fractured two vertebrae in an crash just as dramatic as Martin’s.

[BBC]

TIME BMW: A Company on the Edge

The Race to Sell BMWs

How the car maker uses the track to shape its image and its product

On a crystalline day in late-July 1894, the Parisian gazette Le Petit Journal organized what is widely considered the first motoring competition. The paper’s editor, Pierre Giffard, surmized of contest of then-new, so-called horseless carriages from Paris to northern Rouen would boost circulation. It was a rough trial. Many of the 69 vehicles that entered never made it. Those that did traveled at a glacial average speed of 11 miles per hour. But the stunt coincided with the beginning of the automotive era, and manufacturers ever since have seen in racing a chance to test their technology and influence potential customers in the process. (A vehicle made by Peugeot was among the top finishers.)

Today, automakers from Ford to Ferarri count on motorsports to help spread word of their worth. It gives engineers and designers bragging rights over their competitors. The marketing doesn’t hurt either. In this video, TIME takes a look at BMW’s racing history and how its participation in motorsports influences the cars even the most cautious customers drive.

TIME triple crown

Is American Pharoah’s Triple Crown Win Bad for Stocks?

147th Belmont Stakes
Al Bello—Getty Images American Pharoah becomes the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years.

The S&P 500 has fared poorly in past years with a Triple Crown winner

American Pharoah just became the first racehorse to win the sport’s Triple Crown in 37 years, but is it possible that the excitement from Saturday’s victory at the Belmont Stakes could carry over to the stock market?

History says no. In the 10 other years where horse-racing saw a Triple Crown winner, the S&P 500 generally faded away in the final stretch, posting negative numbers through the end of nine of those 10 years. In fact, the average S&P 500 performance in those years (all of which came between 1930 and 1978) would be a decline of 9%, according to Bespoke Investment Group. That’s compared to average positive returns of more than 5% for the index in years without a Triple Crown winner, going back to 1928.

Some of those averages are weighed down by the fact that three of the years that produced a Triple Crown winner fell in the middle of the Great Depression and the S&P 500’s performance dipped by about 35% in two of those years, though it improved in one, as well. In the most recent decade to produce a Triple Crown winner, the 1970s, the S&P 500 declined an average of more than 5% after the Belmont Stakes in the three Triple Crown years.

Of course, you would be hard-pressed to find a Wall Street analyst who actually thinks that the results of three spring horse races could significantly move the markets. Most experts forecast full-year gains for the S&P 500 this year after the index improved by nearly 14% in 2014. As of this afternoon, though, stocks have declined since American Pharoah’s win, though Monday’s poor market performance is more likely linked to impending interest rate hikes rather than the Triple Crown.

TIME Sports

Why It Seems Like Triple Crown Victories Cluster Together

1978 Belmont Stakes
Robert Riger—Getty Images Jockey Steve Cauthen rides Affirmed #3 as Jorge Velasquez tries to pull Alydar #2 into first place during the Belmont Stakes on June 10, 1978, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

They have mostly happened in just three decades

Look at a list of past Triple Crown winners and something is immediately obvious: it’s been nearly a century since the trio of races—the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes—were lumped together under that name, and the horses who have won are lumped together too. The 1930s saw three winners; the 1940s had four, and there were three in the 1970s. The only outlier was in 1919, before the three races were widely known as the Triple Crown. If American Pharoah takes the title at Belmont on Saturday, he will be the first winner of all three in 37 years.

So why does it seem like certain decades produce great Triple Crown horses and others fall flat?

TIME asked just that same question in 1979, the year after Affirmed took the elusive title:

When the big, three-sided trophy by Cartier was inaugurated by the Thoroughbred Racing Association in 1950, only nine horses, from Sir Barton in 1919 to Citation in 1948, had earned the right to have their names engraved on the emblem of the Triple Crown of American racing. After Citation, 25 long years passed before Secretariat added another name to that most select circle, and through the long drought, one question bedeviled breeders, owners, trainers and bettors alike: Why were there no Triple Crown champions?

But once Secretariat broke the spell in 1973, there followed in quick succession a parade of superhorses. Seattle Slew won the title in 1977, Affirmed last year, and this year Spectacular Bid is the favorite to capture the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and, with it, the coveted Triple Crown. The new question: Why are there suddenly so many champions?

The answer, it turned out, was an unsatisfying one: winning streaks are mostly luck. Why do we think otherwise? Blame a concept familiar to statisticians and gamblers: the clustering illusion, which is the human tendency to see streaks as significant, whereas in reality any series of events is likely to contain its fair share of clusters. Though horse racing is not actually random in the way a coin toss is, the analogy holds up: one study about streaks in basketball, a similarly talent-based activity, found that perceived hot streaks or cold streaks were pretty much just in the players’ and fans’ imaginations.

Sure, some factors were under human control. The top sires of the 1970s, like Bold Ruler, whose descendants included both Secretariat and Seattle Slew, were being made more available to a greater number of mares, creating a stronger pool. Still, racing magnate Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt told TIME that those were probably not the deciding factors. “I can’t think of any logical reason for more Triple Crown horses lately,” he said. “And if we do get a third in a row this year, I think it’s mostly chance.”

As it turned out, Spectacular Bid’s luck had run out. Same for every horse that followed in his footsteps. We’ll see if that holds for another year.

Read the full story from 1979, here in the TIME Vault: Riddle of the Triple Crown

TIME Auto Racing

Idris Elba Proves He Can Drive Like James Bond

The actor broke a 1927 record in the U.K. for the "flying mile"

Actor Idris Elba broke a nearly 90-year speed record in the U.K. last weekend when he averaged more than 180 miles per hour during a one-mile stretch.

The Luther star was in the driver’s seat of a standard Bentley Continental GT Speed on Sunday in Wales, according to CNN Money. His top speed was 186.4 miles per hour during the “flying mile”—in which a driver can get up to speed before the car is clocked at two points, one mile apart—but his average was 180.4 miles per hour. Elba’s run came while shooting the Discovery Channel series Idris Elba: No Limits, which will air in July.

Elba beat out the last record, set in 1927 by Sir Malcolm Campbell, who hit 174.2 miles in hour.

Now imagine the car chase scenes if he ever actually plays James Bond.

[CNN Money]

TIME viral

Watch Driving Instructors Get Pranked By a Pro Racer

They think she doesn't know how to drive

Driving tests are supposed to be nerve-racking for new students, but one Malaysian driving school flipped the script and absolutely terrified their rookie instructors.

To prank employees on their first day of work, the school hired Leona Chin, a professional rally-racing driver, to be the unlucky tutors’ first pupil.

Chin, dressed up in a nerdy-looking outfit, spends the first half of the video pretending she’s a hopeless learner. Then, just as instructors are getting frustrated, Chin reveals her true talents—and the reactions are priceless.

“The 3 employees you saw at the end loved it and laughed it off, but the guy in the blue shirt was not too happy. That’s why we didn’t have footage of him smiling,” Izmir Mujab, CEO of the media company behind the video, told TIME.

Read next: Watch Mariah Carey Kill at Car Karaoke on The Late Late Show

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Auto Racing

Watch NASCAR Driver Joey Logano Win the Daytona 500

He beat out four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and two-time Daytona winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR driver Joey Logano finally lived up to his billing as one of the top drivers on the American racing circuit, winning the coveted Daytona 500 on Sunday in a nail-biting finish.

The 24-year-old Connecticut native beat out a competitive playing field including two-time Daytona winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon, Sports Illustrated reported.

Gordon dominated most of the race but was stymied by traffic during the final push, allowing Logano to surge to the front and hold on for his maiden title.

“Daytona 500, oh my God! Are you kidding me?” he yelled following his victory. “I was so nervous the whole race.”

[Sports Illustrated]

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 21, 2014

Photojournalism Daily is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Mauricio Lima’s photographs on fishing for the pirarucu, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, in Brazil’s Amazonas region. Nearly two decades of conservation efforts, which, today, allow only locals to harpoon and bludgeon the pirarucu, appear to be working. Lima’s striking pictures illustrate the struggle that goes into killing these beasts, whose fragile survival impacts these fishermen’s only livelihood.


Mauricio Lima: Fishing for a Goliath of the River in the Amazon (The New York Times)

Adam Dean: Burma (Time.com) These photographs capture a still impoverished Burma as it stumbles through democratic transition, and ethnic strife.

Michele Sibiloni: Uganda’s thriving drug scene (Al Jazeera) These scenes document the surge in drug use in the country’s capital, Kampala, while parliamentary representatives are debating the introduction of a tough narcotics-bill. Critics, however, argue the new legislation could unfairly punish the poor.

Jim Mangan: Blast (The New Yorker’s Photo Booth) Surprising, yet beautiful aerial pictures that capture a rally-car driver Ken Block racing through the Utah desert.

Gianluca Panella: Gaza Blackout’s Backstage (Leica Camera) The Italian photographer interviewed about his World Press Photo award winning series.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


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