The world of Car Racing was in mourning after the death of Dan Wheldon, a British driver in the IndyCar series, who won the Indianapolis 500 twice, was killed in a racing accident in Las Vegas on Sunday.
LAS VEGAS/ NationalTurk — IndyCar has canceled its season-ending banquet following the death of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon at its season-ending race. British driver Dan Wheldon has been killed following a 15-car terrible accident at the Las Vegas 300 IndyCar series finale. Wheldon, 33, was involved in a multi-car accident in the IndyCar series finale at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 13 laps into the race. Several other drivers suffered minor injuries, but Dan Wheldon’s car, suffered serious damage to the top side, including the roll hoop as it flew into a wall.
American Indy Car Racing has lost one of its most prominent faces
Dan Wheldon, the 2005 IndyCar series champion, won the same year his first Indianapolis 500. In May he won the Indianapolis 500 for a second time but was not a regular driver in the series and was involved in a $5 million challenge for non-regular series drivers to win the final event. The British driver was killed Sunday when his car got caught up in a 15-car wreck, sailed over another vehicle and struck a catch fence 11 laps into the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With the speed — close to 225 mph during practice — and a crowded 34-car field, a big worry was aggressive driving early in the 200-lap race.
Chaos started when two cars touched tires and almost no one had time to react. Within seconds, several cars burst into flames and debris covered the track nearly halfway up the straightaway. Some points of impact were so devastating workers had to patch holes in the asphalt.Video replays showed Wheldon’s car turning over as it went airborne and sailed into what’s called the catch fence, which sits over a barrier designed to give a bit when cars make contact. Rescue workers were at Wheldon’s car quickly, some furiously waving for more help to get to the scene.
IndyCar had planned to hold a celebration for the 2011 season Monday night at Mandalay Bay Resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
One of the series’ most popular drivers, Dan Wheldon has left behind a wife and two small children. IndyCar said information on a public memorial for Wheldon will be released at a later date.
Dan Wheldon Indy Car Crash : Talented British Driver Perished at terrible accident
Dan Wheldon was of the same generation as British drivers in Formula One, and in the lower series, he had a rivalry with Jenson Button, the driver for the McLaren Mercedes team who won the Japanese Grand Prix a week ago. He also raced against Anthony Davidson, who raced on and off in Formula One in recent years, and who works as a commentator on British television.
Lewis Hamilton, the British Formula One world champion who finished Korean Grand Prix in second place, paid tribute to Wheldon.
“This is an extremely sad day,” Hamilton said. “Dan was a racer I’d followed throughout my career, as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motorsport ladder in the U.K.
“He was an extremely talented driver,” he added. “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.”
Wheldon went to the United States to develop his career after it became too expensive to do so in Britain. In the United States, he raced in the lower series leading to IndyCar, such as the F2000 Championship Series, the Toyota Atlantic series and Indy Lights. He moved to IndyCar in 2002, and joined the Andretti Green Racing team in 2003. His victory in the Indianapolis 500 was the first by an Englishman since Graham Hill in 1966.
As the news of his death arrived, Formula One had just finished racing its 16th race of the season in Mokpo. Team people, friends, media who knew him, all spoke of Wheldon as they prepared to leave the Korean city.
The IndyCar series is similar to Formula One in its use of open wheel, single-seat cars, a kind of car most of the drivers raced from go-karts onwards. One difference between the two series is that Formula One races on no oval tracks, as do the IndyCars, and that in Formula One, each team designs and builds its own car according to a set of regulations, whereas the IndyCar teams buy chassis provided by chassis-building companies.
Indy Car & Formula Racing Crashes History
The last death in a Formula One car was that of Ayrton Senna, the triple world champion, at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola in 1994. Another driver, Roland Ratzenberger, had died at the same event the previous day. Since then, Formula One has substantially improved safety in both car and track design. In the same period of time, the top level of U.S.-open -wheel racing has had several deaths and serious injuries, however, including Alex Zanardi’s amputation of both legs after an accident at a race in 2001, and the death of drivers like Jeff Krosnoff and Scott Brayton in 1996, Greg Moore in 1999 Tony Renna in testing in 2003, and Paul Dana in 2006.
At the Singapore Grand Prix last month, Jean Alesi, a former Formula One driver, announced that he would take part in the IndyCar series’ feature event, the Indianapolis 500 next year at the age of 47. When queried about the safety, he said it had improved vastly in the series, before he then added, “But whenever you are racing a car at more than 300 kilometers an hour it is dangerous.”
Dan Wheldon Car Crash Video