Dan Wheldon 1978-2011
When people decide to become race car drivers, they expect to have a long successful career. These drivers have nerves of steel and they are fearless. In the Izod Indy Racing League they can reach speeds of over 220 mph. It takes a lot of guts to get behind the wheel of any car that can move that fast.
Never do they think about having their life cut short by dying on the track. More to the point, going airborne into a safety fence and bursting into a fiery ball of flames.
Sadly that is what happened today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when we lost Dan Wheldon.
Dan Wheldon was 33.
He was the 2003 IRL Indycar Series Rookie of the Year. In 2005 he won the Indianapolis 500 and the IRL Championship. This year he won his second Indianapolis 500. Wheldon also had 16 career wins.
I love motor sports and I know very well who Dan Wheldon was. What I didn't know was how much he was loved and respected by everyone. Dan Wheldon was one of the good guys in the garage.
The 19 drivers that remained in the race today decided to call the race off out of respect for Wheldon. Instead, they lined up their cars on pit road and took to the track for a 5 lap salute to Wheldon.The teams crews and mechanics lined pit road while the laps were being run. The P.A. system played "Danny Boy" followed by "Amazing Grace" and the announcers on ABC were silent. This was one of the most moving tributes I have ever seen.
Perhaps the saddest thing in all of this, Wheldon has left behind a wife and two young sons. Not to mention his mother and father back home in his native England.
His family, friends and fans have suffered an indescribable loss today.
Rest in peace Dan Wheldon. You will be missed.