Dan Wheldon died today in a tragic blaze of fire at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He was last year’s Indy 500 winner. He was airlifted at 1:19 p.m. to University Medical Center (UMC) and pronounced dead two hours later.
Wheldon was in the rear, behind a pack of other cars, as Wade Cunningham made contact with fellow rookie James Hinchcliffe. Cunningham slowed down after he made contact. Wheldon was driving on the track’s bottom groove. He ran over the top of another car.
Will Power, Pippa Mann, and J.R. Hildebrand were also taken to UMC for observation.
Wheldon’s wife, Susie Behm, and his two young boys Sebastian (born February 1, 2009) and Oliver (born March 19th of this year) were at his side when he died.
His teammates and competitors were told about his death at the track. Driver’s were very emotional after hearing the news of his death. They took part in a five lap tribute. The race was cancelled after a two hour delay.
As the news was heard at the track many were crying. Dario Franchitti’s wife, Ashley Judd, was seen dabbing at her eyes just before the official word was announced. Franchitti was seen sobbing uncontrollably when he got into his car to drive in the five tribute laps.
As the five laps were being made Wheldon’s Number 77 was the only number on the scoreboard. The loudspeakers played the song “Danny Boy” followed up by “Amazing Grace.”
A plane is en route to bring his wife’s family from North Carolina to Las Vegas.
This is sobering news for the world of racing. IndyCar has not had a fatality since Paul Dana was killed at Homestead in 2006. This crash occured after a morning warmup.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said in a statement: “IndyCar is sad to announce that Dan Wheldon passed away from unsurvivable injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family.”
Wheldon was born in Great Britain in a town called Emberton. He was 33 years old and a rising star in the world of IndyCars. This was only his 3rd IndyCar race ever.