The Dangers of Racing: Remembering Dan Wheldon
By Sean Sedor
While it is a form of sport loved by millions around the world, auto-racing has always had a certain danger that went along with it.
This danger showed its ugly head at the IZOD Indycar Series World Championship on Sunday (10/16) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, when a massive & fiery 15 car pileup occurred in Turns 1 & 2 on the 13th lap of the race. British Driver Dan Wheldon (2005 Indycar Champion, 2 time winner of the Indianapolis 500, including this years) died from unsurvivable injuries when his car launched into the air and into the catch fence, catching aflame while carnage ensued around him. He was 33 years old and left behind his wife and two sons (2 1/2 Years and 7 Months). Drivers in the race, both involved and not involved in the crash, said it was the worst they had ever seen, with fire, debris, and multiple cars getting airborne. Shortly after he was airlifted to a nearby medical center, he was pronounced dead. The drivers would then subsequently run a five lap tribute in his honor with crews and fans silent and “Amazing Grace” playing over the pa system at the track. While it can be argued over the next few days or weeks whether the track was too fast or there were too many cars on a 1.5 mile track that was designed more so for NASCAR and not Indycar, one thing that can be never taking away was that a great driver and friend to many involved in Indycar and motorsports. He was one of the most popular drivers on the circuit, both in the view of fans and his peers. He said to be always smiling, whether he had a good or bad race. His father described him as “A gentleman on and off the track”. Perhaps the most affected were his fellow competitors, who were devastated by the loss of their colleague and friend. It is a time to reflect on his life, and while some may still insist that NASCAR or Indycar or Formula 1 aren’t sports, they certainly got a dose of reality on Sunday.
***SPECIAL NOTE: I did not include a video of the crash itself in this blog for obvious reasons. There have been many videos posted of the crash of Youtube already and if you wish to look them up, you certainly may, but it is not an easy thing to watch.