Dan Wheldon

Dan Wheldon killed in crash at IndyCar season finale

IndyCarPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Dan Wheldon, Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian
Wheldon pictured at the Indianapolis 500, which he won earlier this year

Dan Wheldon has lost his life following a crash at the start of the IndyCar season finale in Las Vegas.

Wheldon was running in the middle of the 34-car pack when the crash happened after 12 laps had been completed.

He was taken by helicopter to the University Medical Centre but succumbed to his injuries

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard announced the news following a meeting with the drivers. He said: “IndyCar is sad to announce that Dan Wheldon passed away from unsurvivable injuries.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family. IndyCar, its drivers and teams have decided to end the race. We will run a five-lap salute in honour of Dan.”

Fifteen cars were involved in the crash and three other drivers – Will Power, Pippa Mann and JR Hildebrand – were also injured.

The race was red-flagged and stopped following the accident, and abandoned after the news of Wheldon’s condition was announced. The remaining drivers staged a five-lap display run in Wheldon’s honour.

Wheldon, 33, won the IndyCar series in 2005. He won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time earlier this year in addition to the victory he scored in his championship year.

He did not have a full-time drive in the series in 2011 and the Las Vegas event was his third race of the year. He had started the race from last place and was in the running for a special prize of $5 million had he won.


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  • 195 comments on “Dan Wheldon killed in crash at IndyCar season finale”

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    1. Oh my god, I’ve no words for what I just read. I’m feeling horrible. I can’t believe it. I didn’t really wanted to say this, but I think it’s time for IndyCar to adopt some safety features from F1 cars. Hope next year’s car will be safer.

      RIP Dan Wheldon.

    2. I don’t even know what to say, R.I.P.

    3. I may not be following IndyCar, but I shall say Rest in Peace, Dan. :'(

    4. I think we get a little blase about accidents in motorsport. With safety for competitors, teams and spectators being paramount, we do tend to ignore or maginalise it because we assume the survival cell and the protective clothing and the roll hoop will all do their respective jobs and a driver will be alright. From the on-board footage of Wheldon’s car – the camera somehow remained intact past the point of impct – there was no immediately-obvious threat to Wheldon. The survival cell of his car was left intact, and from the on-board camera, he did not appear to be injured to begin with. Taken at face value, the biggest danger to him was a flare up of fuel that burned for a second and then went out (and his helmet and overalls would have protected him from that). It looked like something he could walk away from, maybe a little sore in places, but while we all knew the accident was a bad one, the attitude towards modern motorsports meant that nobody really expressed any concern any driver’s life at the time. Not becaus they didn’t care, but because we no longer really appreciate how dangerous motorsport is.

      1. I agree. It has been a big wake up call to me, I feel like a bit of an idiot now for getting to the stage, like you say, where you just expect everything to be ok because that’s what usually happened. I suddenly have less desire to get back into my go-kart and bang wheels at 150km/h.

      2. Sounds like you were looking at Will Power’s car. And of course there was concern. How on earth did you get the impression that people weren’t?

        1. Yes, on the British Sky feed one of the drivers they had in the studio was clearly choked up and finding it hard to speak even before Dan had been removed from the car, and the presenter was desperately trying to convince us and himself that it didn’t necessarily mean the worst that the helicopter was starting and the car had been covered up.

          I felt sick seeing the crash live; it just looked unreal but you knew it was actually happening…

          1. That was Johnny Mowlem, he was a close personal friend of Dan. Im amazed he was able to sit there at the end of their coverage to be honest, he was a mess.

            RIP Dan, thanks for the memories, it was a pleasure to be a fan.

    5. Rest in peace Dan, we miss you! Xxx

    6. Dan Wheldon’s championship challange in 2005 was the reason that got me watching Indycar and i’ve watched almost ever race since. Was brilliant in the commentary box this season but should have been in the car.

      Some brilliant quotes already on here such as best Brit not to get his chance at f1, Loved the story from The Limit sa when he was go karting and talking away with his fans. Even before the usual tributes you never herd a bad word about Dan. He sounded like a very warm man who will be much missed by Britain, Indycar his fans and his young family


    7. Very tragic, very sudden. RIP Dan Wheldon.

    8. This is the saddest day since I started watching Motorsports, it is also my first fatality, and it was live :'(. It’s too sad, too quick, too painful..

      I don’t know how the drivers had the energy to get back in the car and drive! I was breaking down on my couch, and I don’t even know Dan Wheldon, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what were they feeling?!

      Makes us think about all the other heroes who are in Motorsports heaven, hope he just joined them all.. May they all rest in peace..
      Moments like this make us realize how much we take things for granted, when watching a race we don’t think these things can happen in a split second! Then something like this happens and we are gobsmacked, shocked, and devastated all over again.. Winning was never the priority.. Safety is.

      It doesn’t matter today which driver we support, or which series we prefer, or who won.. Today all Motorsport fans are one thing: Sad about Dan Wheldon.. May he rests in peace..

      1. @LAK hear, hear. Everything you just wrote is how I feel and felt. This was the 2nd fatality I’ve seen, it’s just horrible.

      2. @LAK, @JT77, yes it was just awful to watch, it leaves you shocked and stunned. I can only imagine it is so much worse for friends and colleges throughout the paddock who know him, and of course, his family. Condolences to them.

      3. @LAK Absolutely correct. It’s terrible that it takes occasions like this for us to remember not to take life for granted.

    9. Always a shame. RIP Dan, and may God watch over your family.

    10. Tiff Needels tweet was particularly poingnant. http://twitter.com/#!/tiff_tv/status/125698678357893120

      Absolutely typical that this would happen in the last race before they move to the new car that was designed to prevent these kinds of “airborne” incidents.

      I saw a close up image gallery of the incident linked not long before Dans death was announced and his airbox and roll hoop were completely gone. If the car can’t protect the driver in those types of accidents on an oval then they need to get off the ovals.

      1. not to mention the fact Dan Wheldon had tested that car intensively for its development this year @spawinte

    11. Extremely saddening news! I highly advise those who haven’t to watch the crash. To me it raises serious questions about the lack of safety in these Indycars, when you consider Kubica’s crash in 07 or Mcnish’s Le Mans crash this year. Several Indy Cars not only disintegrate but several also burst in to flames! Which in this day and age, is extremely disturbing! Serious review of saftey needed for the series.

    12. I’m kind of lost for words really. Really sad day for motor racing.

      RIP Dan.

      Oval racing has to go or the cars and circuits have to be made much much safer. Too many deaths in the last decade or two. Motorsport is dangerous but no one should get killed doing it. That accident looked so horrible!

    13. Today, I thought, ‘what a day of racing. It’s gonna be a good one.’

      Start off with F1 in the morning, followed by a whole afternoon of BTCC. And to follow it up, Indy Car. And it was the main race, the one to decide who will be champion.

      It was suppose to be a joyous and memorable race for 2 things, Danica leaving and to see who would be crowned champion. I could not believe what I had seen, a big crash but you always get this feeling in back of your head that everyones gonna be fine, thats how I felt. But seeing every driver come out of that interview, I couldn’t contain it anymore. I just wept, it was horrible. It felt surreal then and it still feels surreal now. I still cannot believe this.

      RIP Dan Wheldon, great driver and a true Indy legend. You will be terribly missed and my heart goes out to the whole Wheldon family.

    14. I, for one, hope that Indycar don’t do something rash and introduce a whole host of changes designed to slow the cars down as a knee-jerk reaction to this accident. Yes, a review is needed. They need to understand why this tragedy happened, and they need to take steps to prevent it from ever happening again. But they need to do it properly, and they need to do it right. They’ve got plenty of time before the 2012 season begins. I think that to rush in changes to slow everyone down without really getting to the heart of the matter would be a poor way to remember a man who dedicated his life to going faster.

      1. First of all, the new car should help a lot to prevent this kind of accidents and improve the chances of a driver if an accident occurs.

        And one should really question the logic of getting this many cars on a 1.5 mile oval to have a go at winning.
        Even the concept that brought Wheldon in for this race, a challenge to race from the back of the pack to win it must have meant charging from the go.
        All these things factor up and combined with unlucky circumstances ended in tragedy.

    15. R.I.P Dan Wheldon. Such a tragic end to such an promising talent. Indy 500 is still fresh in my memory.

    16. my days… RIP Dan. sad day for racing.

    17. Its such a loss to motorsport,
      you forget just how dangerous racing can be until something tragic like this happens.

      RIP Dan

    18. I and several others were following the race together. We expected to see a thrilling conclusion to an excellent day’s racing – instead we witnessed an unfolding nightmare.

      In recent years there have been occasions when something has happened at a track that’s caused me to fear the worst: Felipe Massa at the Hungaroring in 2009, Ernesto Viso at Magny-Cours the year before, Robert Kubica at Montreal in 2007, Katherine Legge at Road America in 2006. On all those occasions fear gave way to relief as we learned the drivers had survived.

      But the scale of the devastation in this particular crash made it feel different from the beginning.

      You try to stay positive in the moments of uncertainty. But as the time passed with no updates on Wheldon’s condition, minutes became hours, and my fears grew – particularly when I read these messages from Tomas Scheckter who had been at the scene.

      It’s only natural that people want to offer explanations and theories on what happened and why and I’m sure I’ll get to that later.

      But right now this is all too raw, too horrible, too difficult to process. A fine racer and, by all accounts, a popular family man has gone. It’s bitterly upsetting and I can only echo the sympathy expressed by so many for Wheldon’s wife, two sons, the rest of his family and friends.

      1. RIP Dan so sad to watch that happen. reminds every time there is nothing like safe enough ….

      2. @keithcollantine well said. As I said on the live blog, thanks for giving us a place to share. Especially in a moment like that, it was nice to have others to share that difficult experience with.

        1. exactly this. Thanks @keithcollantine and again condolances to Wheldon’s family and friends.

      3. I didn’t watch the race live and the first I saw of Dan Wheldon’s death was on BBC News early this morning. Wheldon was competing at Las Vegas as the wildcard entry to win $5m (split between him and a fan), starting from the back of the field. When his picture flashed up my first thought was that he must have won it…

        I’ve been following various forms of motorsport for most of my life, including the British karting scene. In the late 1990s, there were only a few young karters you kept an eye out for when they came into car racing. Wheldon was one, the others included Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Anthony Davidson. I never met Dan Wheldon, although I briefly shared a house with a schoolfriend of his, but I remember him coming into Formula Ford and being instantly quick.

        Despite Dan’s speed, for one reason or another he didn’t quite manage to crack Formula Ford in the UK and move up to the next step (Formula Renault or F3) and instead opted to head over to the USA to compete in FF2000, eventually working his way up to the IRL (as it then was) where he was very successful.

        The accident that cost Dan his life was shocking – the number of cars, the amount of wreckage, the black smoke drifting across the track. It was like a scene from 40 years ago and stands as a reminder that we should be cavalier about safety. It will be remembered as one of the tragedies of motor racing that Dan was killed in the last race for the old Dallara chassis, before the new version (of which Dan led the development) was due to debut. Very sad.

        1. @timg I know you mean “should never be cavalier about safety”.

          1. I did indeed, thank you.

    19. Horrific news. I naively thought days like this were over.


      RIP Dan Wheldon, all of our thoughts are with your memory and your family.

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