On October 16th, the IndyCar Series lost one of its greats, and a family will now be without a husband, father, son, and friend, as Dan Wheldon has passed away at the age of 33 after a scary crash in the early goings of the Las Vegas Indy 300. The England native was racing to win the $5,000,000 prize. Wheldon won the Indianapolis 500 twice, first in 2005 and then again this past May. He also won the 2005 IndyCar Series championship.
Danica Patrick, who was making what could possibily be her last start in the IndyCar Series, said the accident scene felt like a movie scene. The race was just 11 laps in, and left the event red-flagged while crews attempted to repair the track and the safer barrier.
The conclusion of the race was called off when news broke of Wheldon’s passing. Fellow IndyCar driver and friend, Tony Kanaan, made the announcement to the drivers. While Randy Bernard, Chief Executive Officer of the IndyCar Series, made the official announcement, more than two hours later: “IndyCar is sad to announce that Dan Wheldon passed away from unsurvivable injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family. IndyCar, its drivers and teams have decided to end the race. We will run a five-lap salute in honor of Dan.” Shortly after, Wheldon’s fellow competitors took part in the five-lap tribute which included Dan Wheldon’s No. 77 on top of the scoring pylon to honor their fallen friend. Many of the drivers fighting back tears as they strapped back into their cars for the laps.
Wheldon was expected to race in the IndyCar Series full time in 2012, when he would have replaced Patrick in the GoDaddy.com car after her move to the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Dan Wheldon’s death was the fourth in the history of the series, and the first since 2006 when Paul Dana, 30, passed away at the season opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Miami, Florida. In 2003, 26 year old Tony Renna passed away after he crashed during testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and 37 year old Scott Brayton passed away in 1996 during practice for the Indianapolis 500.
Wheldon is survived by his wife of 3 years, Susie and their two sons: Sebastian, who is 2, and Oliver, who was born in March of this year. Fans will remember the man who always had a smile on his face, one who was always willing to meet a fan, and who did his best to represent the sport he loved in a positive way.
The loss of Dan Wheldon will leave an emptiness in the lives of his family, his friends on and off the track, and his many fans around the world. Rest in Peace, Daniel Clive “Dan” Wheldon.
Opinion Added by Brandon Butler: I really have no words that can describe how tragic this accident was. Dan Wheldon is a great IndyCar driver, and he was one of the more dominant drivers of this generation. All I can say is that Wheldon will be truly missed, and I send my condolences to the family of Dan Wheldon.