Published on October 19th, 2011 | by Seán Ward2
Dan Wheldon Killed Aged 33
The 33 year old was involved in a 15 car pile-up after 11 laps, when two leading cars touched tyres.
Dan’s car then hit the back of another car involved, propelling him into the concrete surrounding barrier, where his car burst into flames.
Rescuer and paramedics struggled for over half an hour to remove Dan from the car, before his was air lifted to University Medical Center, but was pronounced dead at 1:54 local time.
The following day, the 17th October, it was revealed by doctors that death was caused by ‘blunt force trauma’ to the head.
The race was red flagged, but drivers not involved in the crash completed five laps in formation to mark the events.
Because the race was red flagged, driver Dario Franchitti was made Indycar Champion for 2011, his third successive Indycar world title.
Speaking after the race, Dario said: “We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships, it’s what we love to do, it’s what we live for, and then on days like today it doesn’t really matter.
“We lost a good friend, everyone in the IZOD IndyCar Series considered Dan a friend. He was just one of those special, special people.”
Jenson Button, who spent much of his early career racing with Dan, said on Twitter: “I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 1990s, a true fighter. We’ve lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy.”
Dan had moved to America after completing his GCSEs, believeing that a professional high level motorsport career in the UK would be unreachable because the level of finance needed was just too high.
Questions are now being raised about how the incident could have happened.
Some are also questioning whether a challenge set for Dan, as part of Go Daddy’s IndyCar Challenge, where he and a randomly selected fan, Ann Babenco, would have been eligible for $2.5 million each if he won the race, starting from last place, was an appropriately safe task for a driver.
It was announced by manufacturer Dallara on 18th October 2011 that its 2012 series car would be named in memory of Dan.