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

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  1. Paulocreed said on 17th October 2011, 16:14

    RIP Dan. ‘Let the wind carry you home’

  2. The Limit said on 17th October 2011, 17:25

    I don’t think it is fair to compare F1 and Indycar by saying that Indycar’s themselves are less safe than F1 machines. The fact is, if Dan had been driving an F1 car a Las Vegas he probably still would have been killed. It is the nature of the circuits Indycar go to that makes this sport very dangerous indeed.
    I remember watching the Texas race earlier this year and the speeds they were doing made F1 cars look like they run in slow motion, I was shocked at the speeds and the close proximity the cars were running in relation to one another. I remember thinking, I hope no one loses it, it was hard to watch at times. However cold hearted it looks now after poor Wheldon’s death, racing such as we saw at Texas and other fast circuits draws in the crowds. The bottom line is that racing is a business, not a hobby, and I believe Indycar crossed the line yesterday and put profits before safety.
    One has to remember that Indycar is in direct competition with NASCAR, and that competition is a fierce one. Indycar has already lost one of its most bankable stars, Danica Patrick, to NASCAR. This during a period in which open wheel racing in America has started to make inroads into NASCAR’s dominance.
    Dan Wheldon was one of the crop of drivers who, over the last nine years, has helped turn the sport around and make it more marketable. When you lose a high profile driver like that, as F1 did with Senna in 1994, the sport has to look at itself and the direction it is going in. In the IRL’s quest to take on NASCAR and offer a ‘spectacle’ to the American masses, it has forgotten the primary rule in racing. Driver safety!

  3. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 17th October 2011, 18:08

    Extremely gutted as soon as i heard it.Despite not being a fan of Indycar, i really really despise when Racing Drivers are fighting for their lives because they’re doing the job that they love.Racing their hearts & souls out,Shows you how harsh life is.

    RIP Dan Wheldon!!

  4. Prime said on 17th October 2011, 18:32

    I was at the track watching with my daughter. I commented several times to her about how hard they were running, going 3 wide around the whole track. When the accident happened, you just knew it wasn’t good. Not something I ever wanted to see, and I feel awful that I had my daughter with me and she had to see it. I’m still stunned and in shock. RIP Dan, we all loved you over here.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th October 2011, 21:36

      Woah, I hope she won’t sleep bad from it.

      I was really glad they called the rest of the race off. And those 5 laps in tribute, with almost the complete crowd standing up brought tears to my eyes.

  5. JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 17th October 2011, 19:53

    Such sad news this morning, I was numb when I heard on the radio and really moved when I read about the 5 lap salute. RIP Dan.

  6. Trenthamfolk (@trenthamfolk) said on 17th October 2011, 20:21

    I hope motorsport learns form this experience and moves on in a positive light, then his tragic death won’t be in vain. RIP Dan…

  7. Err Bob said on 17th October 2011, 20:36

    RIP Dan, a gent who will be sorely missed.

    I find Kahlil the only thing that makes sense in times like now.

    Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
    Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
    Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
    For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
    And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
    Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
    And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

  8. abigail said on 17th October 2011, 20:54

    it’s sad. But every driver knows what can happen, and still go for it, because they love doing it.
    I love the sport, because drivers do things i am unable to do. They are brave enough to put theirs lives on the line. And i don’t want it to be any other way. Even if, once in a while a price has to be paid.
    Rip Dan Wheldon.

    • Jonathan189 (@jonathan189) said on 18th October 2011, 8:19

      I’m not sure Dan’s family would share your sentiments.

      Drivers will always take risks. But the people in charge have a responsibility to make sure those risks are not unnecessarily high.

  9. themagicofspeed (@) said on 17th October 2011, 20:58

    In his memory the world of motorsport must learn from this, and even if it means Indycar is banned the safety must be improved. This must NEVER happen again. Out of respect for him, IndyCar should stop, stop racing completely, until it can be certain that it has done everything possible, regardless of cost or difficulty, to help prevent fatal accidents. Motor Racing will never be completely safe but F1 has proved that if you take NO chances it can be as safe as possible. If they can’t do that, then in my opinion, this should be the end. It is not fair that this has had to happen, somebody has had to die yet again to make safety a priority. As a sport and a community we are in the same position as we were in 1994 with the death of the great man Ayrton. If the safety improvements had not been made, certain EU countries were prepared to ban motorsports in their countries, and rightfully so. American racing needs to wake up and get real, get tough on safety, and bring the speeds of those cars down.

  10. Mild7nick (@mild7nick) said on 17th October 2011, 21:23

    24 hours on and it still doesn’t seem real, I remember Senna but was too young to really comprehend it all. Remember watching live on tv when Greg Moore was killed which was very difficult.

    This is a massive loss to Britain and the greater motorsport community.
    Before I make my point its only right to pay tribute to Dan Wheldon as one of the greatest driving exports this country has ever produced.
    2 Indy 500 wins and an Indy title in the space of 6 years puts Dan right up there with any of the British motor racing legends.

    The hardest thing about it all is that sinking feeling that it could have been avoided if it hadn’t been for a series of questionable decisions.
    Firstly to think that they were even going to let rally drivers, x games drivers etc into the race is almost scary in itself. But the decision to allow a 34 car entry was irresponsible at best and a possible case of gross negligence at worst.

    That it was allowed at Las Vegas, a Nascar track that had no place on the Indycar calender only makes it worse. It seems they have been fixated on creating restrictor plate-style Nascar racing despite the dangers being ten fold with open wheelers.

    One of the things that struck me was after only a few laps was that cars were already touching wheels and it made you fear the worst, had the crash happened half way through the race you could have maybe put it down to a racing accident but that it happened after only 12 laps showed that the cars clearly were not suited to racing there and it was only a matter of time.

    The other scary thing is that there could have so easily have been 2 or 3 drivers who lost their lives in the accident and it was only luck that prevented this.

    I’m not calling for resignations or anything like that, what Indycar needs right now is leadership but it also needs to hold its hands up and bring about some fundamental changes for the future.

    In my humble opinion the 1.5 mile ovals like Vegas, Texas, Iowa have no place in this form of racing. Places like Milwaukee and New Hampshire yes but Indycar cannot take these any more unnecessary risks with where they race.
    I’d be amazed and appalled in equal measure if they return to Vegas next year. The championship needs to build its future on road courses, street tracks, short ovals and of course the Indy 500.

    I found last nights viewing the most difficult of my 20 years of watching motorsports and although you can never make racing completely safe lets hope we never see a multiple car crash the likes of that ever again.

    It all seems so cruel on Dan Wheldon of course his family, it will take a long time for everyone for it to sink in.
    RIP DW

  11. Err Bob said on 17th October 2011, 22:46

    It might seem weird but Imola 94 didnt fully sink in till I watched Wendlingers crash at Monaco, it was then I thought I cant watch this anymore. I didnt watch a race till Suzaka 96. I`am sure Indy wont suffer its Wendlinger moment?

  12. I have not been able to think of anything else today, for some reason this one has hit me harder than any other motor sport fatality I have seen. It is such a complete tragedy.

    I was 13 when Senna died, so the full realisation of what happened did not come immediately. Since then I too remember amongst others Greg Moore, Jeff Krosnoff, Daijiro Kato.

    Last night brought back that same awful, hollow feeling of shock from the images of the crash, the creeping dread that things were not going to be ok during the red flag period and the affect it clearly had on the guys in the Sky Sports studio when they said they knew 45mins before they were able to say anything on air, what a horrible thing to have to deal with.

    I’m so sorry for his friends and family, because as I think they are paying the real price for his loss yesterday. IndyCar needs to finally learn from this, I hope this is not the end.

    RIP Dan. You will be missed.

  13. Jonathan189 (@jonathan189) said on 18th October 2011, 8:26

    If anything like this happened in F1, I wouldn’t watch another race.

    I was only 8 when Senna died — too young to understand anything of what was going on, particularly how trivial motor racing is in the great scheme of things, and how awful it is when someone dies because an audience wanted entertainment.

    I can only watch F1 on the presumption that it doesn’t kill people any more. And I’m sure that Bernie and the FIA know full well that putting safety first is not just the right thing to do — it’s also central to their business model.

    This is 2011. One fatality and the BBC would run a mile, and so would most of the viewers.

    It sounds like IndyCar now needs to take a similar approach.

  14. Viggen47 (@viggen47) said on 18th October 2011, 22:39

    Horrible crash. I would hate to think that it takes a death to look at why run indy cars on ovals. Drop the Ovals Indycar.

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