Dan Wheldon, the 33 year old Indy racing driver from Britain, who won the Indy 500 two times and the championship in the year 2005 has succumbed to injuries sustained in a crash in the season finale of Indy Racing League at Las Vegas. He was driving from the back of the 34 car grid when the accident occurred and Wheldon had to be airlifted to hospital where the doctors could not revive him. The race was red flagged on lap 12 when the accident occurred and later abandoned, though all others drove five laps as salute to the departed driver.
“I could see within five laps people were starting to do crazy stuff,” said Dario Franchitti, who raced together with Wheldon at Andretti Green Racing. “I love hard racing but that to me is not really what it’s about. One small mistake from somebody…Right now I’m numb and speechless. One minute you’re joking around in driver intros and the next he’s gone. He was six-years-old when I first met him. He was this little kid and the next thing you know he was my team mate.We had a couple of fallouts over the way, but we were friends. Everybody in IndyCar Series considered Dan a friend. You saw the reaction. He was one of those special, special people from when he showed up first in IndyCar. And he was kind of brash, all that stuff, but he was a charmer. Then he became this loving family guy who is still charming, but he had this whole new side to him.
I’m just thinking of [Wheldon’s wife] Susie and the boys, when I think about them, I’m struggling to hold it together. I don’t know what else to say.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and today it doesn’t matter.
Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti said, “He was a very close friend and we had just literally inked it this morning. We had great plans to do fun things together. I’m going to miss him. There was a lot of life in that guy. He was part of the glory days here. We had a combination that has never been put together in the sport of auto racing, in my opinion.
“But it’s part of our sport. He knew the risks, we all know the risks when we get in the car. It probably touches me a little more because of everything that was going on. It’s a terrible thing, but unfortunately in our sport we’ve had a lot of days like these. They suck, but that’s the way it is.”
Fans and friends have posted their condolences here.