IndyCar Driver Justin Wilson Raises Awareness About Dyslexia
IndyCar race fans know Justin Wilson as a seven-time winner, including a victory this summer at Texas Motor Speedway. But what his fans may not know is that Wilson has dyslexia and plans to use his fame to bring attention to the reading disability.
In a recent article published in the Miami Herald, Wilson told AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins, “I really struggled at school. I remember one day, the teacher asking what you want to be when you grow up. And everyone went down and did their thing and it got to me: ‘I want to race cars.’ And everyone laughed…And then some joker stood up, ‘Oh, you’ll never race cars. You’re too stupid.’ ”
They’re not laughing now.
Growing up in Sheffield England, Wilson’s experience was not unlike children everywhere who struggle with reading and writing and don’t know why: Undiagnosed learning disabilities. Finally, at age 14 he was diagnosed with dyslexia and received the instruction he needed.
As a youngster one of the few activities he found solace in was racing:
I knew from an early age this is what I wanted to do. It’s the one thing that came easier to me than anything else. Sure, you’ve still got to work at everything in life. But this thing came easy, whereas everything else, all my schoolwork, even soccer at school, it just wasn’t easy. And racing always was. You just naturally go towards it. I knew from the first day I drove a go-kart that was my calling.”
While Wilson has never tried to hide his learning challenges, he is now planning to take on the role of active spokesperson, working with dyslexia advocacy groups worldwide. What will his main message be?
The big thing that stands out to me is to let kids know you can follow your dreams. You can do what you want to do and it’s not going to hold you back. There’s going to be extra work and you’ve got to find ways around it. But it’s also better when you find this earlier. More understanding for dyslexia’s definitely going to help.
To learn more, see IndyCar’s Wilson Promoting Dyslexia Awareness in The Miami Herald.