DAN WHELDON.......1978 - 2011


Dan Wheldon, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner and one of the most popular drivers in open-wheel racing, died today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a horrific multi-car crash only 11 laps into the IndyCar Series season finale.

Officials decided to call the race, but the drivers did a five-lap tribute to Wheldon. IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard made the officials announcmeent of Wheldon's death without further comment.

Wheldon, 33 and the 2005 series champion from Emberton, England, was competing in only his third IndyCar race of the season, trying to win the event and earn a $5 million bonus that was part of a league promotion for drivers who didn't compete full-time in the series this year.

Wheldon was the only driver to accept the challenge. This year's Indy 500 was the second time Wheldon had won the prestigious event. He also won it in 2005.

Wheldon was expected to replace Danica Patrick next season in the Go-Daddy-sponsored car for Andretti Autosport.

Wheldon raced for Michael Andretti's team previously from 2003 through 2005 when he won the championship. Wheldon won 16 races in his nine-year IndyCar career.

photo credit: honda IRL
edited text: Terry Blount © 2011
video credit: © 2011