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motorsport-news.co.uk OCTOBER 19 2011 3
DAN WHELDON 1978-2011
in IndyCar Series finale
TRIBUTES PAID TO BRITISH HERO
Dr iv ers paid tr ib ute to Br iton with a f iv e-lap ru n
“This is a tragic loss at such a young age. Dan was an extremely talented driver. He was a racer I’d followed throughout mycareer, as I often followed in his footsteps as he climbed the motorsport ladder. As a British guy, who not only went over to the States but who twice won the Indy 500, he was an inspirational guy and someone that every racing driver looked up to with respect and admiration.” Lewis Hamilton
“I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 1990s, a true fighter. We’ve lost a legend in our sport and also a great guy.” Jenson Button
“His infectious smile, bubbly personality and big heart madeDan one of the most caring people I had ever met. You could never ask for a better ambassador to a sport.” Randy Bernard, IndyCar Series CEO
Briton was having his third outing of the season
Tracy told indycar.com: “You can run anywhere. You can run against the wall. You are going to see threeand-a-half wide racing here. It’s going to be awild race. To be in the middle of the field might not be the best situation early on.” Will Power, Buddy Rice, Alex Lloyd, EJViso, Charlie Kimball, Tomas Scheckter, Jay Howard, Wade Cunningham, Pippa Mann, JRHildebrand, James Jakes, Townsend Bell and Vitor Meira were also involved in the accident.
Power, Hildebrand and Brit Mannwere taken to University Hospital by ground transport to be checked out. Power, who has complained of back pain, was later released. Mannwas released on Monday after surgery for burns on her hand. Hildebrand came out of
“Hewas such a big presence in our sport and quite a talent. Today we lost a little bit of Indycar. He raced at our team for three years, won six races andmademany friends.” Chip Ganassi, Ganassi Racing boss hospital onMonday after suffering from a bruised sternum. Wheldon was the first driver to be killed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since the oval was opened in 1996. Hewas the first driver to be killed in an IndyCar event since Paul Dana died after a crash at Homestead in 2006.
‘A tremendous competitor’ Wheldon spent much of this year on the sidelines after losing his full-time drive with Panther Racing at the end of last season. He secured a one-off outing in the Indianapolis 500 in a car run by Bryan Herta Autosport, and took an incredible victory when rival JRHildebrand crashed while leading on the last lap.
event the in drivers guest five run but prize, $5million the for come couldn’t they when they any with terms to the Wheldon offered in part take to chance
IndyCar Daddy Go the Challenge.
up teamed Wheldon
While that victory didn’t lead to a full-time drive, it did help Wheldon secure his run at Vegas. Series bosses had originally planned to run five guest drivers in the event for the $5million prize, but when they couldn’t come to terms with any they offered Wheldon the chance to take part in the GoDaddy IndyCar Challenge. Wheldon teamed up with Sam Schmidt Motorsports for the event, and as a warm-up contested the recent IndyCar race at Kentucky
Schmidt Sam with the for Motorsports a as and event, warm-up contested recent the IndyCar at race Kentucky with the team. He finished 14th. Schmidt, whowas paralysed after suffering spinal cord injuries following a crash during an IndyCar test in 2000, said: “Dan was a tremendous competitor, a
“Dan said: 2000, in test IndyCar a competitor, tremendous a was great racer and an even better better even an and racer great team.”
to honour an was It person.
person. It was an honour to have him be a part of our our of part a be him have team.”
Tribute run The race was halted for two hours while the track was two for halted was race The was track the while hours cleared and series bosses bosses series and cleared on word for waited waited for word on
Wheldon’s condition. All
Franchitti: “Dan was a friend”
the drivers were then called to a meeting where they were told of the Briton’s death. The race was abandoned, with the drivers voting to stage a five-lap demonstration run inWheldon’s honour. Wheldon’s car number, 77, was displayed on the scoreboard, while Amazing Grace and Danny Boy were played by event organisers. The IndyCar Series award ceremony, which was due to be held in Las Vegas onMonday night, was cancelled.
“I know this is a dangerous sport. I knowwe’re exposed to that every day in normal life as well, but you don’t think about it,” said Tony Kanaan, Wheldon’s former teammate. “Today we had to think about it. Hewas one of mybest friends and greatest team-mates.”
“I spent so many races trying to match Daniel as we grew up and raced together. I’m utterly devastated to hear the sad news.” Anthony Davidson, Peugeot LeMans racer and BBCFive Live commentator
“I had the pleasure of meeting Dan at the National Guard Youth Challenge dinner about five years ago. His success as a racer speaks for itself, but I will remember him as a true professional who was friendly, respectful and genuine.” Dale Earnhardt Jr, NASCAR Sprint Cup racer
HOW WHELDON SCALED THE HEIGHTS IN AMERICA, PAGE 4