Dan Wheldon, 1978-2011

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Dan Wheldon, 1978-2011

Postby mlittle » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:33 am

Tragic news tonight from Las Vegas.....news reports are that 2-time Indy 500 winner and 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon died from multiple injuries suffered in a multi-car accident on Lap 10 of today's Las Vegas IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.


Below is Speed's Marshall Pruett with additional news of what happened today....

Speed Channel: Dan Wheldon Killed In Las Vegas Crash
----Two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon has died after succumbing to injuries from a horrific crash involving 14 cars on Lap 10 of the IndyCar finale at Las Vegas.

Wheldon was airlifted to University Medical Center for immediate attention, and both Pippa Mann and JR Hildebrand were seeking attention after complaining of dizziness. ABC also reported Will Power was a late addition to the medical center with lower back pain as his primary concern.

At 4:48 p.m. PT, INDYCAR updated the status on Power, stating he had been checked and released from the hospital, while Mann and Hildebrand were being held overnight for observation.

After approximately two hours spent during a red flag period, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard made the formal announcement of Wheldon's passing, and informed the press that the race has been ended.

"INDYCAR is sad to announce that Dan Wheldon passed away from unsurvivable injuries," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family. INDYCAR, its drivers and teams have decided to end the race."

The IndyCar drivers whose cars were undamaged in the accident elected to return to the lap to do a five-lap tribute to their fallen friend.

Wheldon, one of the most popular drivers amongst the drivers in the series, will be sorely missed. SPEED extends its most heartfelt condolences to Wheldon's wife, children and entire family.

Set to replace Danica Patrick at Andretti Autosport, Wheldon's career was flourishing after spending most of 2011 without a ride.

His surprising win at the Indy 500 while driving for Bryan Herta Autosport marked the first part of his amazing comeback, and with a plum drive at Andretti awaiting him in 2012, the charismatic Englishman had an amazing future to look forward to.

Driving at Las Vegas as part of the series' $5 million promotion, Wheldon was enjoying an incredible amount of momentum that was set to continue after the race.

Speaking with Wheldon this week, the 2005 IndyCar Series champion was pining to fly Down Under on Monday to drive in the Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercars race as teammate to James Courtney.

Ever the professional, Wheldon spoke of the honor and duty he felt to give his best effort to his new V8 team and teammate.

“I'm an open-wheel boy..." he said with a laugh as he admitted driving a V8 Supercar would be unlike anything he'd previously attempted in the sport.

"I guess I did three to five laps in a touring car at the McLaren Autosport Young Driver award shootout thing a lot time ago, but no, I’ve not really driven a proper GT car before. My mindset is to go there and learn on the test day because, like I said, I haven't done much in these cars, but then obviously, I think that the team should be able to get me up to speed very quickly. They’re very experienced and obviously very good. Then, next, I’ve got to win the race. I’d be letting James down if that wasn’t my mindset and I wouldn’t want him to have a teammate that didn't have that mindset. Although he's not necessarily in the championship hunt this year, by the same token, that kid’s a champion and I wouldn't want to be letting him or the HRT team down in any way, that's for sure.”

On a personal note, this writer was set to fly with Wheldon to Australia on Monday, and in numerous conversations over the last few weeks, can attest to the sheer joy he felt at the exciting new direction his career was taking.

The crash was triggered by wheel-to-wheel contact between Wheldon's Sam Schmidt Motorsports/AFS Racing teammate, Wade Cunningham, whose left front wheel made contact with the right rear of James Hinchcliffe.

Cunningham spun and collected Charlie Kimball, and with cars sliding broadside at over 200 mph, major crashes, cars going airborne and big fires filling Turn 2 and the back straight, the series threw the red flag to tend to the injured drivers and commence the big cleanup and track repair that's necessary.

Wheldon's car was covered with a tarp almost immediately after the crash, giving those at the track and watching on television an indicator of the severity of the situation.

James Jakes, Vitor Meira, Wade Cunningham, JR Hildebrand, Townsend Bell, Jay Howard, Tomas Scheckter, Charlie Kimball, Paul Tracy, EJ Viso, Dan Wheldon, Alex Lloyd, Pippa Mann, Will Power and Buddy Rice were all taken out in the crash.

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who wasn't involved in the wreck but drove through the carnage the following lap, was startled by what he witnessed.

"It looks like a war scene from Terminator with parts of cars on fire not attached to anything," he said.

Dario Franchitti, who earned his third consecutive IndyCar Series championship when Power was taken out in the crash, shared no joy in the outcome of 17-round season when he spoke before the fate of his dear friend had been revealed.

“My view of the crash was the back wing of Scott [Dixon’s] Target car," he said. "I was sitting behind Scott and I could see it was five laps in and people were starting to do crazy stuff. That early in the race I want no part of it at all. You know I love hard racing, but that to me is not really what it’s about. I said before we even tested here that this was not a suitable track for us and we’ve seen it today. You can’t get away from anybody. There’s no way to differentiate yourself as a car or a driver. People get frustrated and go four-wide and you saw what happened. I hope everybody’s OK. I saw a couple of cars airborne in front of me. At that point my focus was very much on trying not to hit Scott.”

The outcome of the race, which was led by polesitter Tony Kanaan at the time of the red flag, is still being determined by INDYCAR officials.

Quotes From IndyCar Drivers After The Crash:

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 17 Air Ride Pallet AFS/SSM Motorsports): In this kind of racing, there’s not much room for error. I’m not thrilled about it. But it is what it is, and at this point it’s kind of immaterial because there’s some people hurt in there, just going to keep my fingers crossed for everyone in the accident.

ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): “Will (Power) went into the back and up and over me. It was chaos. All of a sudden, the whole track just gets lit up. We practiced no more than 15 or 16 at a time and now we've got 34 out there. I knew there was going to be some trouble. My thoughts right now are with Dan and Susie (Wheldon).”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): “We need to try to take care of ourselves as drivers. That was like it was the last lap. That's not really the way you want to do it. We have a big hole in our sidepod right now from Tag and Briscoe going at it. I was sitting on the outside. Luckily, Tagliani didn't end up in the air because of that one. We need to take a different approach when we get back out on the track. Sorry to all the fans because we're not racing right now but out thoughts are with Dan.”

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus): “Unfortunately, we had to start in the back because we had to change an engine and we weren't supposed to. I had already moved 10 positions to the front. The car was beautiful to drive. Suddenly, I saw some smoke and the car in front of me lifted off the track. I went low and had clear field, but someone didn't brake at all and hit me hard.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No.06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): “I can’t even describe to you what the scene on the racetrack looked like from our perspective. At the end of the day, the series isn’t stupid. They know the situation, I’m sure some people expressed their concerns privately to Brian or whoever, but they’ve been around racing a long time. They know that 34 cars on a 1.5-mile track isn’t something that’s never been done. There’s a few people that are doing their first race, or their next to first race, or the first race in a long time, and in this track in particular, and the nature of the race track, we’ve all been so close together—nose to tail in a couple of the corners that if someone goes around, there’s zero margin, zero time to react so in a place like Kentucky where the cars move around a bit more and there’s not as much threat and you give each other more room. At this track, you don’t have to do that, and because we’re all competitive people, we don’t do it. And that’s what leads to these situations that if one small thing goes wrong, it has very bad consequences.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Team Penske): “So far, pretty muck OK. I see a lot of guys dodging each other, so far for me it’s been OK. It’s one of those things you got to choose lane, even though sometimes your lane isn’t very fast, but you’ve got to be patient because next lap maybe it’s the fast lap. If everyone would start holding their line a little more steady. I think it’s going to be an exciting race. It was so much smoke and debris, and this point I’m just trying to focus on where to go to not damage the tires or the car, I’m not even trying to look at what’s going on. Hopefully everybody is okay, but I’m still in race mode here.”

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 William Rast/Bowers & Wilkins BHA): “I haven’t heard anything about Dan, I’m just hoping that he will be okay. That’s my main concern at the moment. You don’t want to see this stuff because after that you wonder if everything is okay, and then you hear that Dan is involved and he has been taken away in the helicopter . You don’t want to thin kabout the worst, but you don’t know so your mind goes all over the place. I’m really hoping he’s okay, he’s my brother from another mother and I had a good time in Indy from him, he’s been a great teammate this weekend and I just hope for the best.”

Marshall Pruett is SPEED.com's Auto Racing Editor, covering IndyCar and sports cars. He also contributes to Road & Track and Racecar Engineering.


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Daniel Clive Wheldon, 22 June 1978-16 October 2011
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:cry: :( :cry: :( :cry: :( :cry:
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Postby jacfan » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:36 am

RIP Dan. What a tragic accident. :cry:
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Postby mlittle » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:46 pm

I'm still in shock over what has happened, Wen......there are times, like today, where I really, really hate this sport.

:cry: :cry: :burnout: :cry: :cry: :cry:
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Postby Ed » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:36 pm

Very sad day for Motorsport. Shocking and tragic news about Dan Wheldon. Our thoughts are with Dan's family and friends.

RIP Dan Wheldon

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Wheldon Memorial Sunday in Indy

Postby mlittle » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:55 am

Speed Channel: Wheldon Memorial To Be Streamed Live on Speed at 4pm Sunday

It's been almost a week and the motorsports community is still in shock over the passing of IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon; there's a couple of great memorials that have been written about Danny Boy as many referred to him.......
Speed Channel: Danny Boy
Speed Channe: Remembering Wheldon
Speed Channel: Dan Wheldon, In Memoriam
AutoExtremist: The Cruelest Sport
Pressdog: Dan Wheldon
Speed Channel: British Gold Coast Drivers Honor Wheldon
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Postby jacfan » Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:12 pm

mlittle wrote:I'm still in shock over what has happened, Wen......there are times, like today, where I really, really hate this sport.

:cry: :cry: :burnout: :cry: :cry: :cry:
I agree. I love the racing but I hate to see anyone hurt.
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Postby angelawright328 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:06 am

To see the driver being hurt is much more painful.
RIP Dan.. What a tragic accident happened to you.


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