In 2013, Stefan Wilson was a talent looking for the opportunity to make his next step. Wilson was ready for IndyCar, but the series’ growth was put on hold due to high budgets and a limited number of entries.
Dale Coyne Racing decided to field a second car for the Baltimore Grand Prix. Driver Justin Wilson knew exactly who to call to fill the second car – his younger brother.
It was a long time coming. Stefan Wilson was ready for the shot and came prepared with sponsor, Nirvanatea.
“Nirvanatea was an incredibly supportive sponsor with a great product,” Wilson said. “It was great to team up with them, Dale Coyne and my brother. Going into weekend, it was hardest conditions I could have imagined to start out in IndyCar. It’s a rough course, very bumpy and tough to get your feet wet there. I would say it’s one of the hardest street courses in the world.
“I knew it was going to be rough. It wasn’t the ideal place for your first IndyCar experience. We just kept working on the setup. For me, I focused on just learning the car. I was running every lap and learning as much as possible.”
The rough course in Baltimore had been recently paved due to the course crossing some of the city’s train tracks. The paved-over train tracks created a large bump that took a toll on both driver and the car. Wilson was one of its victims.
“For me, it was easy to lose sight of just how long the race was,” Wilson said. “At one point, I was off-sequence in the pits, and I was no longer around the same guys I was racing, so I was worried I was losing ground because in the car you don’t know. I pushed too hard, tagged the wall.
“I touched the wall came in and changed a toe link. Ended up a lap down. Looking back, I should have been more patient and let the race come to me a little more. It was one of the races with the most strategy I’ve done and learning how pit stops play into the strategy. It wasn’t necessarily about where I finished, though it would have been nice to finish higher up. I was focused on doing well personally, and overall we finished 16th.”
It was a lesson Wilson would never forget and one that would instantly mature him. “That’s what’s hard about doing one race you can’t carry the lessons you learn into the next race,” Wilson said. “Because I know that would no longer ever be a factor or me. I would never make that same mistake again.”