Dan Wheldon, 1978-2011

British racing driver Dan Wheldon dies after a horrific crash in Las Vegas IndyCar 2011 finale


British racing driver Dan Wheldon died after a 15-car accident at the weekend.  He was participating in the 2011 IndyCar championship finale at the Las Vegas Speedway, and was involved in a dramatic and ultimately tragic multi-car pile up on lap 11 of 200. The race was red flagged and abandoned, and four drivers were taken to hospital. Wheldon was the most seriously hurt and his injuries proved fatal. A five-lap procession by the 19 cars left undamaged paid tribute to Wheldon, with his long-time friend and 2011 IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti among its drivers. Wheldon was born in Buckinghamshire and his racing career developed in the UK via karting and Formula Fords. He finished second behind Formula 1 driver Jenson Button in the latter’s 1998 championship. Wheldon soon moved to the US and had competed in IndyCars since 2002, winning the legendary Indianapolis 500 twice, in 2005 and 2011.  Organisers of Sunday’s race had faced criticism, a 34-car grid being packed onto Las Vegas’s tight circuit, its Speedway being used in the IndyCar championship for the first time in over a decade. Wheldon was also competing for a five million US dollar ‘wild card’ prize, being offered to any driver not an IndyCar regular (Wheldon was only on a part time contract in 2011) to come from the back of the grid to beat the championship’s pros. By lap 11’s accident he had already advanced to 24th. Our thoughts are with Dan’s friends, family and colleagues. The five-lap tribute is on video below…

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