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.
“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.”
Fly with the wind, Dan. Our thoughts are with you, your family and friends.
-The team @ StartingGrid.org