IndyCar race driver Dan Wheldon, age 33, died from injuries sustained at the Las Vegas Indy 300 today. Wheldon was involved in a horrific, fiery wreck involving 15 cars, sending his car airborne and into the fence. Wheldon moved from his native England to the United States with hopes of winning the Indianapolis 500-a feat he would accomplish twice, in 2005 and 2011. Wheldon was named Rookie of the Year in IndyCar in 2003, and was IndyCar series champion in 2005. Despite winning the Indy 500 this year, Wheldon did not have a formal ride for the season, the race at Las Vegas being his third start of the season. Wheldon was actively involved in testing the all-new Dallara chassis that will debut for the 2012 IndyCar season.
The passing of Dan Wheldon serves as a grim reminder of the risk that race drivers take whenever they strap into a race car. Wheldon was airlifted to a hospital, where he died of his injuries. When IndyCar announced his passing, officials cancelled the race, and Wheldon’s competitors were visibly upset. Dario Franchitti, who won the championship today, was seen crying in the cockpit of his race car-not the way anyone wants to achieve such a milestone. The drivers voted to do a five lap tribute to Wheldon, who took to the track in formation, while the somber sounds of ‘Amazing Grace’ were played on bagpipes.
Dan Wheldon is survived by his wife, Susie, and sons Sebastian, age 2, and Oliver, six months. The Garage extends their deepest sympathies to Dan Wheldon’s family, his team, and all his fans. As a two-time winner of one of the greatest spectacles in auto racing, Dan’s legacy in motorsport history is forever etched in stone. An exceptionally gifted driver, with an electrifying personality to boot, IndyCar, and auto racing has lost a talented and enigmatic icon.
Ed note: The following gallery shows Wheldon in action at the 2010 Honda Indy Toronto.