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. My experience at the 500 this year feels all the more poignant now. Strangely, I wasn’t watching tonight. So when I came home and saw a friend posting a memorial picture on facebook, I was shocked and then gutted. We all know these black days will happen no matter how safe we try to make racing. But it doesn’t make them any less hard to swallow. You will be missed, Dan. You were a great driver and a wonderful personality in the booth.

    2. The safety of the cars themselves is way off. They should not burst into flames for one thing

    3. Terribly sad news, RIP Dan Wheldon.

    4. I’m looking at the pictures of the accident, of the replays and the on-borad footage; not out of morbid curiosity, but because I’m trying to understand why this happened, why someone like Wheldon had to be taken from us, and why I’m doused in this numbness for the loss of someone I never knew, someone I never followed, someone who I wouldn’t know from Job if I passed him in the street and it’s not making any sense to me! All I’m seeing is this quarter-mile of devastation, of burning fuel and tyre smoke, and all of it littered with pieces of what use to be racing cars, but is now little more than a tangled ruin of carbon fibre and steel and rubber, and there’s nothing, nothing that can explain it all. I’m trying to quantify it, trying to find a way to say “this is why the accident happened”, but there is no reason to it, no logic or order. There’s just chaos, and in the middle of it, there is a man who is never going to race again, who is never going to feel the sensation of sitting behind the wheel again, never going to stand on a podium again, and there is nothing to explain why it had to happen this way, or why it even happened at all. I’m at a complete loss to explain the way I feel simply because I don’t understand any of it. I can recount the events in the order that they happened, and I can explain how the car is designed to protect the driver, and I can tell you how all the hundred of tiny little factors wove themselves together to form this pattern of ugliness and how changing just one of them, even ever-so-slightly, would have changed all of them, but I cannot explain to you why Dan Wheldon is not coming back, and nobody will tell me why.

      1. Sadly there is no fitting answer to the question of why @prisoner-monkeys

        But I fully understand your need to look for just that answer in this terrible moment.

      2. @prisoner-monkeys I’m certain you, and everyone involved, will get their answer. The telemetry will piece it all together.

        I was so annoyed last night when I saw a clip @TommyB89 posted on Facebook. Why on Earth can these cars set on fire?

      3. Well, looking at the video, when they show the onboard of Dans car you can see the right front wheel coming in towards his head, just before it stops working. This is ofcourse just speculation, but if this would be what killed him it would be very sad. Another driver to get killed by debris to the head.

        That said, an explanation won’t make it any better. RIP Dan Wheldon.

        1. I think you’re looking at footage from Will Power’s onboard camera. The wire of his right front wheel prevents the tyre from hitting his head.

          1. Shows us how important wheel tethers are.

    5. Wow, that was horrific.

      I am so sick of American Open Wheelers not doing enough for driver safety. My last straw was the loss of life of Greg Moore a few years back. The terrible crash of Alex Zanardi as well was a tragedy for a talented driver. The number of drivers and spectators killed in Indy makes me sick.

    6. Racing is scary for the participants but we do it anyway. I’ve never felt more alive than when warmed up waiting for the off. I imagine I’m not alone valuing that rush of adrenalin, the tight focus on the challange in front of me, the chance to exercise my skills & talents, the results of months of prep just to get to the start, the quest for the best performance possible, & a lot of other things not thought of til later.

      Though I never knew him, he was me. Doing what he loved! My condolenceces to Dan, his wife & kids, the other drivers in the accident, all the drivers & crews, & all the racing community everywhere.
      The racing world is not quite as bright as it was before his light was cruelly doused. R.I.P. Dan God bless us all. And hope we will do our chosen job to the best of our ability.

      Gonna miss you Dan Wheldon.


    7. Very sad news , RIP Dan

    8. RIP.
      Although hè died doing what hè loved most, nobody should die so young

    9. Racing is safer than it was, but it will never be safe. Any time a driver in any classification of motorsports gets behind the wheel, this result is a possibility.

      It’s because racing has become so safe that an incident like this one is so shocking. When you look hard and fast at it, we’re probably lucky that “only” one man was killed.

      But it doesn’t make it easier. As the commentator at the end of the broadcast put it: “Goodbye, Dan.”

    10. May he rest in peace :(

    11. Just seen the news now, and the very short clip of the aftermath I’ve seen looks like the absolute worst case scenario for this type of racing. I don’t get to watch Indy and I’m glad I wasn’t watching that live. I really hope the sport acknowledges this tragedy in the right way and makes a real effort to improve safety even further.

      These days complacency can set in so easily. Running open-wheel cars at 230+mph speeds in a concrete lined oval is about the most dangerous way of motor racing I can think of, but I wouldn’t for a second want to stop those guys and girls who get in the cars from doing it. They are absolute heros, and days like this remind me of that. I really feel for Dan Wheldon’s family and friends today.

    12. Absolutely appalling news. I didn’t see the race and was in shock when I saw the news (and a picture of the incident). Dan was a real favourite of mine in the Indycar series and my thoughts are with his family and friends.

    13. I was so very close to watching this last night but I had other plans.

      RIP Dan Wheldon.

    14. Now, I don’t (or never will) watch IndyCar, but having read up about his year’s Indy 500, I have (at least a small) understanding on how popular Dan Wheldon was, I would just like to add my name to the long list of people paying tribute to a great racer.

    15. I saw him win at Indy and I was like man he still got it, just needs a good ride. Saw him do TV and he had a knack for it. Met him once at an autograph sesison in CA. Then saw the crash live and heard the news, I was not a huge fan but man I teared up. This just sucks.

    16. I watched events unfold last night. Horrible stuff.

      Questions need to be asked and will be asked about the circumstances leading to Dan Wheldon’s death, and I hope we get some satisfactory answers. But for the avoidance of doubt, it’s there on every ticket – motorsport is dangerous. We all knew that sitting at home, and Dan knew it too.

      You can slow the cars, build them safer, make the tracks safer too, but there will always be some circumstances where a human body is put into a situation it just can’t withstand. The words that remain with me, from Randy Bernard’s brief statement last night, are “unsurvivable injuries.” At least, from this desperately sad occasion, we can learn of ways to reduce the possibility of those circumstances occurring.

      But before all that, let’s pay tribute to a great racer and a great ambassador for motorsport. RIP Dan.

    17. I’m kind of glad I forgot to watch the race now, though I saw the accident on the news last night. I don’t really know what else to say at the moment, other than R.I.P Dan Wheldon.

    18. Just woke up to the news. Such a tragedy may he Rest in Peace.
      Thoughts go out to his young family.

    19. Terrible news. Dan was one of my favourite drivers. I wasn’t watching it live last night. As with all the Indycar races, I end up watching the highlights.
      My thoughts are with his family. May his children grow up proud that their father was an all time great racing driver. R.I.P. Dan.

    20. UNeedAFinn2Win
      17th October 2011, 8:52

      Sad day in motorsports

      RIP Dan Wheldon

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