Despite being separated by 11 years in age, Justin and Stefan Wilson compete, especially when it comes to anything with wheels.
The brothers battle on iRacing, an online simulated racing game. They've taken it to go-kart tracks. About the only concession Stefan Wilson, 24, will make is that he can't vie with his 35-year-old brother when it comes to riding a bike.
So perhaps it's not a shock that the Wilson brothers said Friday thay they do not plan on giving each other any quarter if Sunday's Grand Prix of Baltimore were to come down to them.
Asked what he would do if the brothers came down the final stretch with a victory at stake, Justin Wilson quipped, "We crash."
Interjected Stefan Wilson, who will be making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut: "We're going to treat each other like any other race. It's all we can do. If we start thinking about each other, Tony Kanaan will go around the both of us."
"We've got to race as we would anyone else," Justin said. "It's the only way you can be on the track."
Justin, who will drive the No. 19 car for Dale Coyne Racing, and Stefan, who will drive the No. 18 Boy Scouts of America car, are the first pair of brothers to race against each other on the IndyCar series as teammates. Mike and Robbie Groff competed against each other on different teams at Walt Disney World Speedway in 1998.
The Wilson brothers grew up in Woodall, England, and because of their age difference, their relationship was heavy on brotherly but maybe a little light on love.
"I remember being 15 years old and Stef was four, and he wanted to hang out with me and I wanted to hang out with my mates," Justin recalled. "So I was holding the bedroom door shut while he was banging the other side."
As they grew older, they did what most siblings eventually do. They matured and viewed each other more warmly. Justin fondly recalls finding some pictures of his younger brother visiting him at a race in Long Beach in 2004 and one photo showing Stefan sitting in a Minardi Formula One Car despite his not being able to see over the steering wheel.
"I've spent a lot of my life kind of looking up to Justin and seeing his achievements," Stefan said. "So I'm very proud of what Justin has been able to achieve in his career, and taking away the brother attraction from the weekend, I just want to treat it as a normal weekend. We're just two teammates working together, trying to get the best out of the car and the best out of ourselves.
"Justin's has some tremendous teammates over the years, and I kind of just want to separate myself from being just his brother and I want to join that elite group of guys that he's had as his teammates, and hopefully he'll be able to see me not just as his brother nagging him, but as a constructive teammate as the weekend goes on."
Team owner Dale Coyne said he has heard the teasing nature between the brothers, noting that Stefan has joked that he might drive so well Sunday that he might replace his older brother as a team driver. Coyne said he can see similar traits shared by the brothers, but that the elder Wilson rose through the ranks at a more opportune time for racing.
"Justin came up when the times were better, when there were more sponsors and more drivers being hired," Coyne said. "So it was a better opportunity for Justin 10, 15 years ago. And Stefan, he could be just as good. He just has to get the right breaks. This has worked out well. We've been able to get some sponsorship together to get him into a car this weekend. We tested him earlier in the year at Barber [Motorsports Park in Birmingham], Alabama, and that went well. So this is baptism by fire here because the track is bumpy and the walls are very close. It's a tough place to do your rookie race, but he's doing OK."
Justin Wilson, who debuted in IndyCar in 2008 and has finished in the top 10 of the series standings once, has four top 5 outings this season, including a runner-up showing at the GoPro Indy Grand Prix at Sonoma last week.
With 361 points, Wilson trails leader Helio Castroneves by 118 and still has a mathematical chance to assume the lead. But he acknowledged that this weekend will be a very different experience for him because of the presence of his brother.
"It's kind of mixed emotions, because on one hand, it's good to have him as a teammate," Justin said. "You want to help him and try to get his maximum and reach his potential. At the same time, I've got to focus on what I'm trying to do and get the most out of myself. So I'm trying to not compromise my weekend just to help Stef, but at the same time, try to help him as much as I can — whether that's going through data, talking about the track, the car."
In one of his two practice sessions Friday, Justin posted a time of 1 minute, 20.7808 seconds, the 17th-fastest time out of 24 drivers on the 2.04-mile course. Stefan had the slowest time at 1:23.6238.
Stefan had joked that debuting in the IndyCar Series was like being thrown into the deep end of a pool without any floaties. After the first session, he changed that description.
"I would say it's more like being thrown into the ocean without your armbands on," he said. "It's definitely a huge learning curve, and it's definitely one of the toughest tracks in the series."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun