Tribute to Dan Wheldon- Indy Car (22 June 1978 – 16 October 2011)

Yesterday, the racing community lost an important member. IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed in a crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The accident involved 15 cars, and Wheldon was the single fatality.

Wheldon was a driver of immense talent and reach in the racing world. Having started his career in karts in the United Kingdom, Wheldon had rivaled karters like future F1 World Champion Jenson Button. Trained by Terry Fullerton, Ayrton Senna’s great karting rival, Wheldon then moved to the United States rather than chasing a dream in Formula 1.

Although I never met him personally, Dan Wheldon had the reputation of being approachable, enthusiastic  and passionate about racing. A racers’ racer. A guy that you definitely wanted to have in your corner of the garage.

In the States, Wheldon developed a strong fan base. He constantly put his efforts and talent to the test, winning events like the 2011 Indy 500.

Below is the press conference, which announced Wheldon’s passing, and the IndyCar on-track five lap salute to honor him.

This incident will raise more attention to the level of safety on open wheel oval track racing, from the design of the cars to the behavior of the drivers. With the large number of cars involved in a typical IndyCar race, with the varied skilled level of the drivers, moving around at 220mph makes each mistake closer to being unfortunately fatal.

I had a more in-depth post that I wanted to write about this. However, I believe that fellow StartingGrid writer Andrew Howe has put together something much more fitting than what I could come up with.

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Oval racing as we know it is one of the most dangerous spectator sports. 

Not since the time of Rome have there been coliseums filled with tens of thousands of people to watch combatants strap on helmets en mass where everyone taking part knows the mortal risks are real, present, sparing none. 

We have made tremendous steps forward in the last decade and far fewer gladiators have succumbed to the lion. 

The lion, however, still roams the coliseum.”

-Andrew Howe

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Fly with the wind, Dan. Our thoughts are with you, your family and friends.

-The team @ StartingGrid.org

3 thoughts on “Tribute to Dan Wheldon- Indy Car (22 June 1978 – 16 October 2011)

  1. Pingback: Why 2012 would be a great time for Rubens to get into #IndyCar « StartingGrid.org- Automotive Lifestyle Blog

  2. “Many people ask why I always sign off ’till we meet again’, and its because ‘Goodbye’ is so final. Good Bye, Dan Wheldon.” Fantastic piece, superb effort guys.

  3. Very well said Davin and Andrew. This was an example of the worst that can happen. I expect we’ll see a call to end racing these types of cars on ovals and there may be some merit to this argument, as that particular track was crowded and narrow. However, I think it is important for fans and pundits alike to remember the advances in safety that continue to be made in a sport where the risk of crashes like this exist.

    Most importantly, let’s remember a great gentleman driver who has left us far too soon. Cheers Dan, you made a lasting mark on racing history and your memory will live on.

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