Dan Wheldon killed in crash at IndyCar season finale

IndyCar

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

  1. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 17th October 2011, 11:14

    Following on from the death of Senna, F1 has done everything possible to make the sport safer and some of the crashes that people have walked away from have been incredible.

    Sadly, Indycar hasn’t done the same. Since Senna’s death, between Indycar and CART, we’ve lost Jeff Krosnoff, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Greg Moore, Scott Brayton, Tony Renna, Paul Dana and now Dan Wheldon.

    I know there is a new car next season which will hopefully improve safety but the fact remains that oval racing is dangerous in its current form. Cars get up into the catchment fencing and are torn to shreds – this has to stop.

    They have a poor history of doing so but hopefully everyone involved with Indycar will wake up and realise that actions has to be taken to prevent these sorts of incidents and if it means changing the tracks, stopping oval racing or improving safety (ie replacing the catchment fencing with something else), something has to be done.

    All of our thought are with Dan’s family at this horrible time – I hope his legacy can be improved safety and lives safed in the future.

    • Kenny (@kenny) said on 17th October 2011, 12:03

      pete- your list of deaths since 1994 is sobering…

      Speaking to this instance only, racing open wheel cars on high banking is suicidal. Back in the days of USAC and CART- the real Indycar, some would say- they stayed well away from tracks like this. And the danger is compounded when a fair number of participating drivers have little experience on any ovals.

      RIP Dan.

    • Flying Lobster 27 said on 17th October 2011, 14:57

      I’ve had some thought, and two things have seemed to be most important factors in the crash. Won’t go into whether or not they should have raced at Vegas; but 1. those cars took off dangerously on contact, and this has been happening for years (Bräck I believe, Franchitti twice in 2007, and at least two cars yesterday had frightening flights – Power’s onboard view may be the scariest racing footage I’ve ever seen), and 2. while the concrete walls are safe enough, the fencing can tear a car down to nothing (Krosnoff, Conway last year and Wheldon).

      Both factors were already combined in the last lap of the 2010 Indy 500, in which Mike Conway hit Ryan Hunter-Reay and flew into the fence. Conway survived, but was injured and was racing yesterday. The more I think of that accident, the more it sounded in retrospect like a warning.

      Watching it live was painful, and many times I had a thought for Franchitti, Tracy (whose interview over an hour before the announcement of Wheldon’s death was both not reassuring and spot-on regarding how drivers deal with this sort of circumstance), Kanaan, Michael Andretti, Castroneves and others I may have forgotten to mention, who were racing in California while Greg Moore died, and who also witnessed Zanardi’s accident.

    • Neil Davies (@neil-davies) said on 17th October 2011, 16:24

      I had no idea so many Indy drivers had lost their lives in recent years. That just isn’t acceptable at all.

  2. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th October 2011, 11:19

    RIP Dan Wheldon!

  3. Pink Peril (@pink-peril) said on 17th October 2011, 11:24

    This is such awful news. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time, and of course with the other drivers who were injured in this terrible crash. My only hope is that something good can come out of this – increased safety standards for other drivers, so that we don’t see this happen again.

  4. yeah, that’s really sad..:(

  5. NathanBradley92 (@nathancabopino) said on 17th October 2011, 11:41

    I was watching this live last night and following it on twitter. All I can say is that I have never felt like that while watching a motor race (I was too young for Imola) and hope to never feel like that again.

    I will spare you the graphic imagery of what I went through, as it is not at all pleasant, but I can only imagine the sheer pain and sense of loss coursing through the Wheldon family, Dan’s friends, and everyone who knew him. My heartfelt sympathies to all of them. :'(

    My thoughts also go out to both commentary crews, on ABC and Sky Sports, because the way they carried on in such terrible circumstances was, to me, completely amazing.

    But above all of course, my thoughts are with Dan. I may only have been watching Indycar for a very short period, but I could always see how well liked he was, how tough a racer he was, and seemingly, what a great person he was by all accounts.

    Rest In Peace Dan. Gone too soon, but never forgotten.

    Nathan

  6. maxthecat said on 17th October 2011, 12:05

    Still sad today after watching this unfold last night. Johnny Mowlem struggling to hold it together on Sky Sports and breaking down was difficult to watch.

    Horrible crash caused by too many cars on too fast a track, time to stop open wheel racing on ovals, it’s insanity.

  7. themagicofspeed (@) said on 17th October 2011, 12:49

    Rest In Peace Dan, and god bless you and your family.

    What makes his loss all the more painful, is that his young sons, aged 2 and 0, have had their father taken from them in such an awful way. It’s gut wrenching. I feel for his family.

    It makes you wonder, why do we do this sport, is it really all worth it, the pain and suffering of families when things like this happen.. It’s really made me think, don’t know about anyone else.

  8. mickey18 (@mickey18) said on 17th October 2011, 12:49

    Wow. I thought we were past all this guys. Looked like a great driver and a great man. Guttering to see a human being with the same passion to motorsport as me taken away. Tragic.. Rest in Peace mate
    America, I think you have some catching up to do

  9. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan) said on 17th October 2011, 13:00

    Oh no! :(
    I heared yesterday about the crash, without much details. It’s so unfair, I remember him when he won the Indy 500 this year.
    It has ruined my day : I will feel sad the whole day I think :(

  10. Don Mateo (@don-mateo) said on 17th October 2011, 13:40

    Absolutely terrible news. The fact that we live in an era when fatalities caused by motorsport are a rarity makes it all the more shocking.

    I hope the organizers learn from this though: clearly the catch fences are a problem, and the simple fact is that the barriers on these oval circuits deflect crashed cars back into the path of oncoming cars, resulting in these huge pileups. This is simply ridiculous and flies in the face of attempts to improve safety.

    It’s also sad that Dan was a very successful British sportsman, yet it’s likely that this is the first that many have heard of him.

  11. pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 17th October 2011, 13:51

    Bad luck Dan Wheldon – it’s a crying shame this is the first time most people in the UK will hear your name. One of our greatest motorsports talents – just not sat in an F1 car.

    I’m surprised people are so shocked that drivers (and others) can lose their lives participating in this sport. You do anything at 200mph+ of course there is a risk of death or severe injury. The risk is part of motorsport. It is inevitable at some point or another and in any category and it will happen again, even in the apparently invincible F1.

    Apart from the rare talent to drive these things fast all the time why are the potential rewards so great? Because the risks are so high.

    No one forces these guys to get in their race cars. They do it ‘cos they love it, they are fully aware of the risks and of the rewards. There’s only so much you can do in risk mitigation when putting 20 to 30 cars in a relatively small space and ask them to beat each other. Let’s not have knee-jerks calling for the banning of racing. Let consenting individuals make up their minds whether they want to risk it or not.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 17th October 2011, 15:37

      Everyone knows that motorsport is dangerous… No-one would try and deny that and you are spot-on that driving anything at 200+ mph means you are risking your life however where possible, measures should be taken to reduce this risk.

      In F1, people can still get hurt (Massa for example could have died if he had been even more unlucky) however with the new safety measures across tracks, cars and equipment over the past decade, people have walked away from accidents that would have killed people in recent times.

      Motorsport is dangerous and drivers know what risks they are taking however there is still a duty to reduce those risks wherever possible

  12. when i think these guys get one fraction of what F1 guys get,and racing at 220mph near a brick wall,that is what i call real racing.unlike the computer programmers behind an F1 wheel.
    RIP DAN

    • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 17th October 2011, 14:48

      I think you’ll find they get as much as if not more than F1 drivers. It’s big money for the top guys.
      I also don’t think you can compare danger levels in such a way. If that were the case then TT riders should be the highest paid on the planet. They sure as hell have the biggest balls.

  13. DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 17th October 2011, 14:16

    Very tragic news

    RIP Dan Wheldon

  14. BBT (@bbt) said on 17th October 2011, 15:29

    Sad, sad news.

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