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Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Oct 2011   |  11:48 pm GMT  |  176 comments

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Dan Wheldon, the two times Indy 500 winner and IRL series champion. He was killed in an Indycar accident at Las Vegas Speedway.

The race was only his third start this season. Wheldon had taken part at Indy this year on a one-off basis and won the race. He was taking part in a challenge organised by the Indycar series to try to win the race in Vegas from 34th and last place on the grid in pursuit of a $5 million prize fund, when he got caught in a multi car pile up.

“It will be pure entertainment. It’s going to be a pack race, and you never know how that’s going to turn out,” Wheldon wrote in a blog entry before the race.

Dario Franchitti, who was in the race with Wheldon, said “I could see within five laps people were starting to do crazy stuff. I love hard racing but that to me is not really what it’s about. One small mistake from somebody..

“One minute you’re joking around in driver intros and the next he’s gone. He was six years old when I first met him. He was this little kid and the next thing you know he was my team-mate. We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and today it doesn’t matter.”

Wheldon, from Buckinghamshire, started his career in karts in the UK, racing against Anthony Davidson and Jenson Button with whom he had a rivalry. He was mentored by Terry Fullerton, Ayrton Senna’s great rival from karting days and appropriately, won the FIA ‘Ayrton Senna’ Memorial World Cup. He moved to the USA, rather than chase his F1 dream, because of a lack of funds.

In 2005 he became the first English driver since Graham Hill to win the Indy 500.

His many friends in the world of F1 will be greatly saddened by his untimely death at the age of 33.

Button said, “Just woken up to the most horrific news.. Dan Wheldon RIP… I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90s, a true fighter. We’ve lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy. I can’t begin to imagine what his family are going through and my thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.”

Team mate Lewis Hamilton said, “This is an extremely sad day. Dan was a racer I’d followed throughout my career, as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motor sport ladder in the UK. He was an extremely talented driver.

“As a British guy, who not only went over to the States but who twice won the Indy 500, he was an inspirational guy, and someone that every racing driver looked up to with respect and admiration. This is a tragic loss at such a young age. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”

Rubens Barrichello said on Twitter, “Just got out from the plane and got the terrible news about the death of our friend. Will always remember the great times we had at karting in Brazil my friend. Rest in peace.”

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176 Comments
  1. Peter says:

    Truly shocked about hearing this news. It sadly reminds us that motor racing is still indeed a dangerous sport despite the massive safety improvements made in the last two decades. Dan Wheldon was no doubt one of the best British racing drivers around and to no longer have him around the scene representing the best of British in America is devastating.

    A massive loss to Indy racing and motorsport in general. Thoughts are with his family and friends.

    Rest in peace Dan.

    1. wayne says:

      God speed Dan Wheldon, and God bless.

      Motorsport should stop and take a look at this model of racing. Placing the fastest drivers at the back of the grid and then offering them $5M to come tearing back through the field has inherrant dangers that are not present in a normal F1 style qualy and race set-up. The wrold has lost a tallent and Dan’s family hacve lost a son partly due to motorsport’s shift away from traditional racing and into ‘sports entertainment’. Think long and hard motorsport and then think again.

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        +1
        especially the part about “motor racing” not “sports entertainment”

      2. Werewolf says:

        Whilst sharing your concerns, Wayne, especially as the prize (to be shared 50/50 with a fan) was really aimed at a non-Indycar driver, I feel I must add some clarification out of respect for Dan Wheldon, in case your comments should be misconstrued.

        The tragic events of yesterday were in no way related to Indycar’s Las Vegas $5m promotion, as Dan was in no way responsible for the accident, which was triggered by contact between two other cars many places ahead. Sadly, his own involvement was the consequence of a situation in which around a dozen cars were already shunted (and out of control) by the time he made impact and the huge speeds involved at this particular oval, about which the drivers had already expressed concern.

      3. wayne says:

        Thank you for making my own point a little more clearly than I managed.

      4. Mark says:

        It was truly a very very sad event, at this stage I really wouldn’t rule out some portion of blame on the $5m prize promotion. You have to think that any promotion like that could potentially cause a driver to push beyond their limits and take some risks.

        I’d be very interested to see the telemetry on Dan’s car to see if he braked or took a risk and decided to try and steer through it because he was way behind when the initial accident happened.

        When I first saw the on-board shot of Dan it instantly reminded me of Kimi at Spa in 2002 when he drove flat out through the smoke at eau rouge.

        If it’s true and the organisers didn’t listen to the drivers concerns about this track then that is a worry and I truly hope improvements are made to this series.

        I’ve always wondered why the Indycar Series has never worked with the FIA, they both could learn a lot if they worked together.

  2. Ben Parker says:

    RIP Dan Wheldon. A true talent lost today.

    1. **Paul** says:

      Agreed :-(

      IMO Indycar need to do what F1 did in the wake of Senna & Ratzenbergers deaths in 1994 make Dan Wheldon’s legacy to Indycar very substantial safety improvements.

      Motorsport is dangerous yes, but where was the rollbar on Dans car? To me that says the safety standards they adhear to really aren’t up to scratch. The number of deaths in the sport in the last 15 years tends to back that up too.

      So like Paul Tracy I find my sadness turning to anger at IRL. If they had the safest cars they could possibly have and he’d still being killed then you have to accept that’s the risk of racing, but when the cars aren’t at that standard I always question what if Dan had being in a car with F1 levels of safety?

      :-(

      1. Kim Butcher says:

        This is what can happen when you put a bunch of open wheel cars going 225 mph plus around an oval race track. Questioning the saftey of Indy cars is fine but youll never take the risk out of the sport.These drivers understand the risks and continue to chase their dreams and we are lucky enough to watch. I dont think the outcome would of been any different if we had been in F-1 car either. RIP Dan Wheldon youll be missed.

      2. Zhenya says:

        This type of racing is not for the good of the sport. RIP…

      3. Jeb Hoge says:

        After seeing Webber walk away from planting his car on its rollbar and then sliding it in Valencia, I wonder about that possible difference in outcome. Nonetheless, even before Wheldon was known to have died, other drivers were talking about how crazy this type of racing is and how they hadn’t wanted to run the race.

      4. markdartj says:

        Because the Indy Cars can travel at a much higher rate of speed than an F-1 car, they are actually put through more rigorous testing. That’s one reason they look like such boats. If Dan Wheldon had been in an F-1 car in the same situation, the results would have been no different. The problem was the track they were racing on. It was designed for NASCAR stock cars, which A) race at a lower speed; and B) have much less downforce, requiring steep banking in the corners to achieve mechanical grip. In my opinion, IndyCar was at the very least, too complacent, and at the worst, criminally negligent. One wouldn’t hold a drag race on the front straight at Spa, would they? Nor would they hold a Formula One race at, say Mt. Panorama (Bathurst, NSW AU). Dan Wheldon’s death highlights the many poor decisions made by the sanctioning body over the last few seasons.

      5. OzEye says:

        I Dont think you can compare Webbers Valencia crash with Dans.

        To begin with – the forces in play were totally different. Webber actually started slowing down once he went vertical … he landed on a smooth surface and slid into the well padded wall.
        I doubt also that he was doing 320kph at the time he hit the wall too…and from memory – he backed it into the wall…and did not go in cockpit 1st.

        Unfortunately – Dan was unsighted. All he could see was tyre smoke…and he was doing in excess of 300kph.
        In the USA – OVAL track drivers – from Nascar to Indy car are ALL TAUGHT NOT to slow down – pick a line and drive through the Smoke. Sometimes this has spectacular and especially tragic results

        After viewing every available camera angle – it is clear that Dans car launched off the back of another- then twisted just enough to drop the RH Side. Aerodynamics took over from there – with the car covering the 10-15m of track between launch and the catch fence.. while finishing its half barrel roll on its side (in the air)

        His car hit the CATCH FENCE – not the wall – 1st
        His car hit that fence cockpit 1st.

        The walls of these super speedways are cement and while hard- are all curved…allowing a car hitting them to lose inertia and grind to a halt if possible. of course it depends on the angle you strike the wall.. a sharper angle of “attack” and you “bounce off” the wall and back down the track.

        In this instance IMHO – Dans roll bar actually could have contributed to his death…as the roll bar striking the catch fence at the angle it did – would have the effect of dragging the front of his car DEEPER and HARDER INTO the fence.

        The Roll bar may infact have done its job… i have not seen clear pics of whats left of the car – and protected his head…. but the resultant stresses placed on the front portion of his car during the crash would mean that all that carbon fibre, metal etc would be pushed straight back into the cockpit

        On top of all that- there were thousands of pieces of 14 other cars flying around him too.

        IF Dan had hit the wall first…even cockpit first…i think it was a survivable accident..
        But missing the wall completely and going cockpit first into the catch fence would greatly increase the destruction of the vehicle – especially the front portion of the car – and NO roll cage/bar/hoop would change the result.

        Raising the super speedway cement wall height might make this kind of thing hard to repeat….it is much easier to survive a slid on a smooth surface – even if you are upside down or face first doing it…than a slide along what is in effect a giant “cheese grater” fence.

        A horrible and tragic accident. My thoughts and best wishes to Dans family and friensds at this time.
        Dan – thank you for allowing me to watch you do what you loved…and do it well…

        We will miss you racing in Oz this weekend… but you will not be forgotten.

      6. Bryan says:

        Could not agree more. A terrible waste of life. We have become so used to accidents, big ones, where the driver just walks away. As stated this might be a wake up call for Indycar. Having watched F! through the 70′s and onward things have really got better. I think that’s why everyone is in such a state of shock. RIP Dan :-(

      7. IndyNative says:

        The problem with the roll bar is that they’re designed to protect against cartwheels, tumbling rollovers, and inverted slides against smooth pavement. No roll bar (given weight and fastening vs. strength tradeoff in any form of open wheel racing) can withstand the punishment Wheldon’s took. More than likely, it came off due to either catching the wall at its upper edge or it was pulled off when Wheldon’s car caught the catch fence cockpit first.

        The speed carried consistently on an oval combined with traffic due to car similarity presents unique safety challenges in Indycar. An airborne car can strike objects at strange angles and points of structural weakness in a car. This is what happened to Wheldon and Greg Moore before him. It is also what happened to Scott Brayton (although his collision would likely not have been fatal with a HANS device).

        RIP Dan.

  3. Stephanie Cummins says:

    RIP DAN !! :(

  4. Phil Oakley says:

    RIP Dan. Met you at Goodwood Festival of Speed; fantastic guy, very outgoing and happy to talk to his fans. RIP Dan Wheldon.

    1. herowassenna says:

      I had the honour of meeting him at Autosports International back in 1998, on a trade day so was quiet. He spent 45 minutes talking with me about motorsport and his passions and he was infectious, funny and wonderful company.
      To his family and friends, I offer you heartfelt condolences.
      Addio

  5. Dave Charles says:

    Awful tragedy. Thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Sad loss.

  6. Justin Maloney says:

    A great racer and champion. He had moved up ten places in ten laps prior to the crash, such a sickening accident.

    R.I.P. Dan

  7. Stephen Craig says:

    Such sad news, especially so when his two boys are so young that they will have no memories of their father. My thoughts are with Dan’s family and friends.

  8. Robert Jennings says:

    James,

    I don’t really follow the US side of racing, I just dip in and out occasionally. Dan’s name was one of those that I knew of but wasn’t overly familiar with his work.

    Despite this, I’m saddened by another loss of a fellow human being who was taking part in the sport I love – motor racing.

    Rest in peace, Dan. My thoughts go to your family and friends.

  9. Jarrod Hunt says:

    Horrible, horrible accident. The in car vision was difficult to watch.

    Any time a car leaves the track, I’m amazed that drivers walk away. Unfortunately sometimes they don’t…

    RIP Dan

  10. Lufferov says:

    I was disgusted and appalled by the treatment of this tragedy by Sky Sports. They ended their broadcast before the 5 tribute laps to show highlights of a cricket match which could have waited 15 minutes longer!

    Sky Sports News then did broadcast the laps, but the reporter insisted on talking drivel over the entire parade, and they even managed to cut away from that after just a couple of laps.

    They demonstrated a complete lack or respect, it was a disgrace! It confirms all my fears for their coverage of F1 next year. They should be utterly ashamed of themselves for this!

    1. wayne says:

      Sickening but very typical of SKY. God help F1 next year (but SKY will still never get a single penny of my money ever again).

      1. Charles says:

        Likewise I was absolutely sickened at Sky Sports total lack of respect, it was disgraceful that they ended coverage prior to the start of the tribute laps.

        Sky Sports News coverage of the tribute laps was farcical at best.Sky I truly hope you are ashamed!

    2. madmax says:

      Can’t believe they did that. What an absolute disgrace. [mod]

      Would have been furious if was watching and they cut to the cricket. Was really a nice touch to do the 5 parade laps.

    3. richard says:

      I think you should temper your disgust, the guys in the Sky studio were obviously in pieces, what would be served by lingering on their despair any longer. You are the one showing a complete lack of respect

      1. Mark m says:

        Johnny mowlem was crying on camera. They had been told 30-40mins before it was public knowledge that Dan had passed. Keith Heuwen is an ex motobike racer and you had 2 current race drivers sitting next to them one of which is best friends with dan I think they did the best they could.

        Anyone dying on live tv has to be everyone involved worst nightmare. Cut them some slack I’m pretty sure that a death was not on the script.

    4. David Young says:

      ABC, the American network, and whose feed was picked up by TSN for the Canadian broadcast showed extreme dignity in. The commentators remained silent during the whole 5 lap tribute. I had tears when the bag pipes began playing “Amazing Grace” was being played as the cars circled the track. At the end the commentor said “Usually we end our broadcast with ’till next time. because goodbye is so final, goodbye Dan Weldon.”
      R.I.P. Dan Weldon.

  11. David Ryan says:

    Absolutely stunned. A top driver and a thoroughly decent man to boot. RIP Dan.

  12. dubdub says:

    Really pleased to see your tribute on here James.
    I was lucky enough to Meet Dan a couple of times at Indy.
    He was a wonderful person and so full of life.

    I’m truly saddened by his death and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife and two children.

    Rest In Peace Dan Wheldon.

  13. Phil says:

    Sad sad news.
    Just goes to show that motorsport is still a very dangerous sport, and that all efforts should continued to be made to improve the safety.

    Vale Dan Wheldon

  14. Marco says:

    Very sad day, RIP and God bless his family. Indycar should not race on ovals like that only Indy and maybe 2 small lower speed ovals.

  15. Williams4Ever says:

    Terrible loss of a talented driver, great ambassador of motor sports. Modern drivers look so very invincible on the race track and just when we get so very lax to be casually abusing jeering them when they are not doing well on track, reality strike and life tells all of us where we stand in presence of death.

    Hope all the fans and pundits who live off motorsports start putting things in perspective when offering “expert advices”.

    RIP Dan, you were one fearless driver who raced fairly and represented Motorsports like a true gentleman.

    - Respect from a shocked fan

  16. Jon says:

    Did you ever meet him James? From what I gathered he seemed a very likable well respected man, a sad sad loss to motor racing. (understatement!)

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, met him a couple of times, nice guy

  17. LemzisMilpis says:

    Now this one hurts. Probably less than to his family and friends. But probably the best british driver in years after JB, LH, DH and NM

  18. hnosyalnif says:

    RIP Dan, such tragic news. You will be missed.

  19. Nando says:

    R.I.P. Dan Wheldon. Brought Indy Car back to the attention of many English motorsport fans.

  20. Ian says:

    Cant believe it. Again, we are firmly reminded that “motor racing is dangerous”. Taken far too early, RIP Dan, and thanks for all the great memories.

  21. David T says:

    Terrible, dreadful news.
    One the greatest racers this country has produced in my lifetime. I feel privileged to have seen him in action and will miss him. The world is a shade darker for his loss

  22. Tragic news, indeed, James. The whole world of motorsports is shocked. Every time we witness a death on tracks is like the first time. We can only hope this serves as another cause for safety improvements. R.I.P. Dan and Thank You…

  23. Alex says:

    Firstly, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Wheldon family, he was a talented driver, who on this day, was at the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s nothing anyone could done to avoid a wreck of that magnitude (15 car wreck out of 32 in the field I believe).

    IRL, or as it is called now Indy Car, I believe, is extremely dangerous. Numerous injuries (Alex Zanardi) and deaths. 2 deaths in an official IRL race since 2006 (Paul Dana and now Dan Wheldon)and before that there was Greg Moore who died in 1998-9.

    For those of you who don’t follow North American racing series, both IRL and NASCAR use the same ovals. The difference is that since the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, NASCAR, although not high in performance, is supremely safe, roll cages, Hans devices, kill switches, safer barriers, etc, etc. On the other hand, IRL is open-wheel, and thus way more dangerous by comparison. These cars, I believe, shouldn’t be allowed, at least in their current specifications. This reminds me of the BBC F1 documentary about Formula One in the 1960s and 1970s. Indy car race organizers, in my eyes, have not done much with respect to making their sport safer. In my honest opinion open wheelers have no business being on ovals, in my eyes the beauty of the open wheel car design is meant for the track, not the oval.

    Racing, in any form, is dangerous. Once again my thoughts go out to the Wheldon family.

    1. markdartj says:

      The American fixation with racing on ovals comes from the early days of motor sports. Most races were held at fair grounds, most of which had horse racing tracks. In Europe, the early races were held on public roads. You see the difference.
      THe fact that Indy Car races on both ovals and street/road courses is what sets it apart from being an American version of F-1 racing. A driver needs to be proficient on both. The problem with Indy Car racing is lack of judgement in choosing which ovals to race on. Las Vegas Raceway was designed and built with NASCAR in mind. The cars are about 80mph slower, have more protection for the driver, and very little downforce, relying on mechanical grip to keep the cars on the road in the turns, hence the need for steep banking. On these tracks, an indy car driver can do the entire lap without lifting, doing 225mph. There are ovals that were initially designed for open wheel cars, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, The MIlwaukee Mile, Richmond, Michigan, Fontana, and Phoenix. These have less banking, usually only have one racing line through the turn, and require the driver to brake before corner entry (the exception being Indy, Michigan, and Fontana). There is much less camber or banking to keep the cars glued to the surface, which is made up by downforce from the car. These are the tracks that Indy should race on. Unfortunately, while they offer up good racing, they are under promoted, so very few of these races, except for Indy 500, put butts in the seats. Today could mark the end of Indy Car racing as we know it. Dan Wheldon’s death only put a cap on a season full of ineptitude by race control and the folks running the show. RIP Dan.

      1. David Young says:

        +1
        This made the front page of the New York Times and Washington Post. Without wanting to sound mean, the 5 million $ prize was a publicity stunt. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way they wanted.

    2. Mark m says:

      It was the last race ever for the IRL dallara’s and boy did they show it. The warning signs was there just before the crash with tagliani getting together with 2 other drivers. With hindsight race control should have thrown a ‘competition yellow’ and read the riot act to the drivers. But the pace of the race was furious and quick decisions still required 100m plus of race track to make. last night will be live long in the memory of those that watched it live and those that have seen it since. Next year car has a valance that sits behind the rear wheels that should stop the launching of cars. But I feel this would have had little effect on the outcome. The safest way for these cars to race on ovals is to cut the speed these cars are allowed to travel.

      RIP Dan Wheldon you have given me many happy moments

    3. Jeroen says:

      You forgot Tony Renna (2003) who died during a test. I hope this is a wakeup-call for IndyCar to improve safety year after year so Dan didn’t die in vain.

      I saw a picture of him today taken on the bricks of Indy, with his son, his winning car, and his trophy… Very surreal to look at that picture. Rest in peace Dan!

      1. Mark m says:

        Tagliani and Servia touched the lap before the big one and tagliani was pushed into hunter-reay

  24. Racyboy says:

    A terrible loss.

    I know oval racing in a pack at 225mph is a different animal to F1, but maybe Indy could look to F1 for some safety guidance.
    ( I imagine they already do to a certain extent)
    By the same token, maybe F1 could reach out to indy.

    R.I.P Dan Wheldon.

    Open-wheelers rule.

    1. Olivier says:

      I don’t get the point of racing on an oval track? I like F1 as it is. (Classic) F1 tracks have lots of personality. They demand different challenges to the driver & his machine.

      I feel sorry for Dan and his family. IRL Racing on oval tracks is silly and stupidly dangerous. It’s sheepishly following each other at mind blowing speeds. There’s nothing (read: no skill involved) you can do once the flock starts to rattle. I hear Dan was killed by a fence? What a waste of life and talent …

      Rest In Peace Dan.

      1. markdartj says:

        I watched Dan’s crash live, and am feeling very angry about it. Oval racing is an American thing, as I posted in an earlier comment. I could say I don’t get the European fixation with road racing but I don’t. It all has to do with the early history of motor racing. Tho whole point everybody seems to be missing is the type of oval they were racing on. Las Vegas International Speedway is meant for NASCAR cars, which travel at a much slower rate of speed, and offer more protection for their drivers (think “army tanks”) . It’s the high banking that is the culprit. With the downforce that an Dallara indy car has, even a rookie driver can keep his foot buried on the loud pedal through the turns. It takes no great skill. There are ovals that do not have such a high degree of banking, for which indy cars are perfectly suited; requiring the driver to actually brake before turn entry. Unfortunately, many of these are under promoted and are vanishing off of the IndyCar Series schedule, since they don’t put fans in the seats. It’s just a matter of the right tool for the right job. Of course, I’m not saying a crash like Dan suffered wouldn’t happen anywhere. The catch fence design is pretty standard at all ovals, indy friendly or not. Just as Dale Earnhart’s death lead to the development of the safer barrier (a flexible inner wall attached to the concrete wall, designed to absorb energy), Dan’s death may result in better catch fence technology. Investigation will show, I hope, that this tragedy was the result of a perfect storm. An inappropriate venue, too many rookies and rusty veteran drivers, and the added pressure of a driver’s need to charge through the field to win 5million dollars. Part of this is due to problems indemic to the Indy Car series. There have been major problems with race control, which have seriously undermined it’s credibility.
        It is not in a healthy financial situation now, with most drivers having to bring money to their teams. They are stuck in a bad broadcasting situation, only because nobody else wants to televise them. Fans are not buying tickets (did anyone notice how many empty seats there were even in this highly promoted race?) The cars technology is eight years old. The owners are wondering where to get money for the new cars they are running next year. Open wheel racing in North America (at least on asphalt) is teetering on the brink. This may all have contributed to taking the eye off the ball regarding safety in my opinion. RIP Dan.

  25. Matthew says:

    Such a horrible accident… RIP, Dan. You will be sorely missed.

  26. JW1980 says:

    This is terrible news. One of my favourite drivers. It was only three short months ago that I saw Dan at the Goodwood FoS brilliantly entertaining the crowds and spending so much time with them.
    The worst news since Senna’s accident. A very black day for the sport.

  27. Robbie says:

    I am saddened to hear of this and somewhat angered too. In my opinion, American open wheel motorsport has much less prejudice on safety than any FIA, FIM and even NASCAR sanctioned event. Even Michael Schumacher once declared his refusal to get involved with the Indy 500 for this reason.

    Running a race with a crowded circuit and inexperienced drivers leads to this sort of catastrophe. You have to ask yourself would some of these drivers qualify for an FIA superlicence or even A licence to race in a premier catagory elsewhere.

    My thoughts are with his family.

    R

  28. David says:

    Shocked and desperately sad. My thoughts are with his family. A huge success story of English racing, not fully appreciated in his home country.

    As a youngish fan (early 20s), this is the first time I’ve ever watched a fatal accident as it happened. Watching the whole process from accident to announcement, desparatly hoping for good news, was an horrendous and exhausting experience. Makes the dangers of motorsport so much more real.

  29. zombie says:

    Absolutely gutted! What a tragic day! Its a lesson we should never forget that no matter how safe modern motorracing is,it can still kill. RIP Dan! Godspeed! Say ‘hi’ to Senna and co. once you get to pearly gates :(

  30. David says:

    Rest in Peace, Dan, and all help to your young family. A terrible shame…

  31. Lee says:

    Sickening accident, just awful.

    R.I.P Dan and thanks for everything you’ve done for British Motorsport.

  32. Tim. says:

    The most horrible crash I have ever seen…RIP.

  33. Ben Youngs says:

    I feel so deflated. I watched Dan race in Kentucky only 14 days ago and I simply can’t get my head around the fact that I’ll never see him race again.

    It was widely tipped that he would take Danica Patrick’s race seat for next season.
    His last tweet was “Green!!!!” as he was about to take to the car.

    Today is a dark day for all of motorsport.

    As ever, let’s hope we can learn from this.

    1. Mark m says:

      He has signed the contract to drive for Andretti Motorsport. The angst in Micheal’s face was clear to see.

  34. Terrence Walker says:

    This is very sad news. I am a US fan and I love F1 and the IRL. Seeing the crash on tv was heart breaking. The crash also makes me want to appreciate my favorite drivers (and try not too be to hard on them when they make mistakes) and respect the drivers I don’t like (they are also living their dreams and taking a big risk). RIP Dan.

  35. marbles says:

    Very sad day. God speed Dan.

  36. Michael Prestia says:

    Sad day for motor racing.

  37. Ronald says:

    Just came home and read the news. So sad indeed. Time for Indycar to reflect on all this and put more effort into safety.

    1. Tim Parry says:

      There’s going to be hell to pay at Indycar management over this debacle. Not necessarily for the design of the car – it wasn’t all that long ago that F1 was looking at the then IRL open wheeler to improve safety aboard an F1 car – but certainly over the track selection and this $5 million publicity stunt.

  38. Pete says:

    Absolutely tragic. I was watching the race, the crash was awful, and I instantly feared the worst. I’m gutted that we lost Dan today.

  39. Darren C says:

    I am so shocked. RIP

  40. Michael S says:

    Thoughts with his family…

    I was wathcing that race at the time and could not beleive the size of that wreck… may be the biggest wreck I have seen in open wheel in all my years…

    So glad he won the 500 this year

  41. A legend. Lovely chap and a fast racer. He will be very solely missed.

    Thanks for the memories Dan,
    (R.I.P.)

  42. jeff says:

    Sad day.

    1. wayne says:

      R.I.P, God speed.

  43. John T. says:

    Sometimes we forget the danger these drivers face. Maybe closed cockpits are the future.

    1. Andrew P says:

      Closed cockpits will not help a situation where it is suffering multiple impacts with fencing staunchions & tensioned fencing wires.

      It has been reported somwhere that the roll hoop was sheared off and I suspect everything else with it.

  44. Robert Gunning says:

    To watch a racing car on the limit through a corner flat is truly awe-inspiring, and I would recommend the experience to anybody who has never observed it. Better still is to drive a single-seater, so you can truly appreciate the skills of all the racing drivers in world and what separates them from us mortals. However, as we all know when you purchase a ticket for any event, there is a cruel reminder written upon it that motor racing is a dangerous sport. I have watched motorsport for many years, through both triumph and tragedy, and despite the implementation of various safety devices such as head protection, HANS and Safer Barriers, we always knew in our heart of hearts that death would return to a motor racing circuit; and it will happen again. The only consolation I can find, is that Dan Wheldon; like Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Gilles Villeneuve and Dale Earnhardt; who all unfortunately perished in racing cars, will always be remembered as great drivers who achieved great admiration and respect in their individual sports, and died doing something they loved. My deepest condolences to his wife and children.

  45. RodgerT says:

    Seems odd to have a “like” button for an article like this.

    A horrible incident with a tragic outcome. Which should sober us all to how much these drivers risk to entertain us.

  46. shah alam says:

    A talented Brit who will never be forggtton.

  47. Arya says:

    When I look at Indycar or other open wheel racing series; I realize how important it was for F1 to take the safety measures it has taken. A crash like the crashes of Kubica or Ralph Firman would have sealed their fate in other series.

    What a sad, sad day :(. Rest in Peace Dan!

    You are a champion, you will always be one.

    1. David Young says:

      I don’t think Indycars are any less safe than F1. How many times have you seen Indycars hit the wall at 200+ mph and the driver not only survives but walks away? Simona di Silvestro’s crash at Indy in practice is an example. Having said that, racing has become almost sanitized in terms of safety and we usually expect drivers to get out of their cars and wave to the crowd after spectacular crashes. This was a horrific accident and I had a sick feeling watching it that it would be different this time.

      1. Mark m says:

        So similar to Greg Moore

      2. IndyNative says:

        +1 Agree completely. I see a similar theme from many who follow F1 but who aren’t altogether familiar with US forms of open wheel racing. Indycars are structurally stonger and better equipped to protect a driver during impacts. The difference in safety between F1 and Indycar stems from other attributes:
        -run-off zones vs. closer contact with walls and fences
        -higher sustained speeds on ovals
        -more cars on the circuit
        -less disparity between teams. Everyone has been running the Dallara for a decade and 99% of the technical advantages from the wealthiest teams have been figured out. Everyone is running at nearly the same speed.

        Engine/chassis differentiation and customization in 2012 and 2013 will eliminate some of the problem (along with the rear fairing), but the series needs to let fewer cars out on the track for the high-banked oval courses (or eliminate them altogether).

      3. Camm says:

        RIP Dan wheldon.

        Many of the comments here are from folks who follow F1 but know little of Motor Sport in North America. I’m a long time fan of both F1 and the IRL (CART/Champcar too).
        As has been pointed out, Indcars are stronger than F1 cars because they have to withstand such high speed impacts around ovals.

        There are some reasonable criticisms of the number of cars racing in Las Vegas was too many for the size of the circuit. Also that the catch-fencing needs to be looked at, since that’s what tends to break carbon fibre cars appart (and in this case seems to have killed Wheldon).

        Indycar isn’t perfect, but has made racing safer and safer by going down similar paths to F1 in many areas. The SAFER barrier around ovals absorbs much of the impact when a car crashes into one. In Wheldons case he was airborne above the barrier, so that was of no help to him. Many F1 safety features such as the HANS device, and the safety car were introduced into Champ Car before they were made manditory by the FIA. That’s hardly a culture of being lax about safety. Motorsport is dangerous, and will allways remain so. Appart from basic human decency, all the big motorsport series of the world (F1, NASCAR, IRL, DTM, WTCC etc) are allways trying to improve on safety to prevent motorsport from being curtailed or even banned as some politicains have threatened to do in the past.

        It should be remembered that the sheer speed of open wheeled cars around the faster speedways, is part of the attraction for Indycar. That thrill of speed is a big part of what differentiates it from NASCAR. The fact that the best attended oval races are those at Indianapolis and Texas (both fast ovals) tends to back that up.

        What ever the rights and wrongs of the IRL, we’ve lost a great driver and a great man. That is something we can all agree on.

      4. Arya says:

        I do not mean undermine the safety measures of any racing series. But the fact that that the series in all it forms has lost 7 of its racers in last 17 years compared to none in F1, is a bit of a shame. Safety of a racer doesn’t come only from a strong car. As stated above, there are multiple factors which overall makes racing safe. If cars could have ensured driver safety alone, we would have been racing in Nordschleife/ Dijon/ Brands Hatch still. Its the tracks and safety measures on track side, that needs to be looked into.

  48. Kinny says:

    RIP – motor racing is indeed a dangerous sport.

  49. Matt says:

    It was a horrible crash. In one respect we were lucky we did not see another driver have a career or life ending impact in the carnage. It’s very sad to see him go like this, even though he was doing what he loved.

  50. Gizmo says:

    Dan’s passing will be felt for years in the racing world.

    He will be missed.

  51. Brisbane Bill says:

    I share your sadness at the news. Dan was a truly great guy and was due to be here in Queensland this week for a rare tin-top outing in V8 Supercars at the Gold Coast 600. He had such a huge future ahead of him with a great drive lined up for next year after such a frustrating year for him this year. He always relished a challenge and died trying to create great entertainment for the fans in trying to win the race from last place.
    Vale Dan. RiP.

    1. Ade says:

      The shadow of this tragedy is falling on Eastern Australia as well. The Gold Coast event was one of the highlights of the V8 Supercar series I was most looking forward to. Not sure what they will do with regards a team mate for his friend James Courtney now, but the tragic loss of Dan will be felt as much there as in the US.

  52. Michael says:

    RIP Mr. D. Wheldon.

  53. Sebee says:

    What a shocking loss. So much promise for 2012, such a good person. Just shocking.

    And thank goodness they had the sense of respect and perspective to end the event. Something you don’t see nowadays.

    Champion to never be forgotten.

  54. chocoball says:

    Rest in peace

  55. Matt Cheshire says:

    Its too easy to forget the risks that elite drivers take.

    Wheldon is the forth driver to loose his life in an indycar since Senna’s accident – the last fatal one of F1.

    Indianapolis has the highest number of fatal accidents of any current circuit.

    Can we hope that F1 returning to America will lift safety expertise and standards there?

  56. Roadhog29389 says:

    RIP Dan, taken way too soon.

  57. Ted says:

    Absolutely terrible news.

    It is great to see that all forms of motor sport support each other in times like these.

  58. Sean says:

    This is such painfully sad news. Hopefully he will be the last motorsport death.

  59. JohnBt says:

    It’s shattering to hear news like this which is so rare in motorsports during this era. Peace be with Dan Wheldon.

  60. Jeff in Ohio says:

    Despite winning a hard fought 2011 Indianpolis 500 and then finding himself without a ride for most of this season, Weldon did not remain idle.

    He became the main test driver for the new Indycar spec chassis that will debut in 2012. He also joined the Indycar television broadcast team for 3 races, where he quickly became a favorite of viewers. In fact, he was brilliant and could easily have pursued a motorsports broadcasting career.

    Dan’s beautiful wife Susie and two infant sons were in attendance at Sunday’s race and at Dan’s side when he passed away. It was the saddest of days.

    - Jeff

    1. Dmbcornwall says:

      Fully agree – Dan was brilliant in the Commentary Booth and definitely brought something to the broadcast. Will be sorely missed.

  61. Leow Ju-Len says:

    R.I.P. Dan Wheldon.

    I’ve not seen the crash, but I wonder if it would have been survivable in a modern F1 car?

    If so, we should probably remember the efforts of Mosley and appreciate them a bit more.

    1. Michael Grievson says:

      I don’t think so. The car launched cockpit first into the catch fencing and burst it flames

  62. Nadeem says:

    A sad day in motorsport. RIP Dan we will all miss you

  63. David Morton says:

    Dan was lucky to win Indy 500 this year……..but today his luck ran out. Prayers for his wife and kids.

  64. Chris Evans says:

    Awful awful news, I saw the incident as it happened and had a sinking feeling that something really bad had happened when the scale of the wreckage became apparent.

    I have to wonder though about the safety of open cockpit racing on banked ovals, what are your thoughts on it James?

  65. Jonathan says:

    This will be the first time most people in the UK have ever heard of Dan Wheldon. A dreadful business.

  66. georgelotze says:

    This is sad and just plain sucks.

  67. Robert Lujan says:

    This is very sad to read about. Mayn Indy drivers have talked about how much he was liked in the series. It is just awful news to wake up to. Many condolences to his family and his fellow drivers.

  68. Dmbcornwall says:

    Watching it live yesterday just bought back memories of Imola 1994. Very sad.

    1. Mark m says:

      For me it brought back memories of Greg Moore in 99. The style if accident was almost identical. The roll over hoop being subjected to massive loadings and failing. F1 place the rollover hoop with 12 tons of force. What tests are the IRL chassis subjected 2.

  69. Dave Aston says:

    He always struck me as the ‘race driver from central casting’ type; handsome, dashing, successful and willing to try all different types of machinery. I think… he won the Daytona 24 hrs too? Only 33, he would have won lots of different classic events in the future. I loved his attitude, he seemed very funny and intelligent in interviews, and gave me the impression he loved the lifestyle and kind of career that his hard work and ambition had generated.

  70. Richard D says:

    Sad news indeed, condolences to family and friends

  71. Michael Grievson says:

    Awful accident. It highlights the dangers of racing so close the barriers. One thing we tend to complain about F1 is the amount of runoff. Perhaps it’s a blessing for F1 drivers.

  72. Krishna says:

    Very sad day this, twitter was all about Dan Wheldon and at the time I didn’t know he’d died.

    I’ve watched him race here (the US) with great interest and I am saddened to hear of his passing. He will be missed.

    On a side note, I went up to San Francisco to watch the Senna movie and it was amazing. I wonder if Wheldon had not won the Senna trophy, perhaps he may have survived this crash.

    1. Flying_Scotsman says:

      I dont understand.how could a trophy possibly have had any influence over this terrible accident?

      1. Krishna says:

        It was just an observation of the irony is…please don’t take it so literally.

  73. r0ssj says:

    I remember Dan Wheldons dramatic Indy500 win a few months back, where he took the win in the final few meters of the race.

    Terribly sad for Dan Wheldon and his family.

  74. Paul Mc says:

    Awful news, RIP Dan Wheldon.

    Ive not seen the crash and frankly i dont want to either.

  75. Bevan says:

    “Unfortunately, motor racing is also this” – Mario Andretti….
    Sad sad day for all in motor sport.
    God Bless Dan’s family.
    RIP Dan Wheldon.

  76. FrancisFuku says:

    I am not a great fan of American motor sport, but Dan Wheldon was one of the few drivers I know. Such a shocking news… RIP Dan.

    Concerning the safety issue, I do not know if he would have survived the crash, had he been in a Formula 1 car. But the fact of the matter is that when you are crusing at 320+ kph with concrete walls surrounding you, there is not much to do besides praying when there is a massive accident. I read that there have been 5 fatal crashes in CART/IndyCar since 1996 (not to mention the near fatal crash of Zanardi, which cost him his legs): all of them happened at an oval track.

    Of course, Indy cars should be and must be safer: they are sub-par safety wise when you compare them to Formula 1 cars – just look at how easy they caught fire in the tragic crash yesterday.

    Let’s hope that the fact that a very well-known driver died can change things safety wise in America, just as the tragic death of Senna in Imola did back in the mid-90s.

    1. Dave_F1 says:

      There has been 3 indycar deaths on ovals since ’96 & 1 in CART.

      Scott Brayton at the Indy 500 in ’96 (Indycar)
      Greg Moore at Fontana in ’99 (CART)
      Paul Dana At Homestead in ’06 (Indycar)
      Dan Wheldon at Vegas ’11 (Indycar)

      1. FrancisFuku says:

        You forget Tony Renna, in 2003. It was not during an official race, but it was on an oval track (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_Champ_Car_accidents)

  77. TimeShift says:

    R.I.P Dan Wheldon, we will always remember what you dedicated for the sport.

  78. Tim Scarratt says:

    Posted by someone else on a forum I frequent, but it mostly sums up my thoughts:

    ———-
    Any time a driver dies in the modern era, it’s almost always a freak thing. like “Gonzo Rodriguez’ throttle sticks at the top of the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca”, or “Henry Surtees gets hit in the head with a wheel”.

    That crash at Las Vegas wasn’t a freak crash, it was a perfectly normal result of what happens when you have an overstuffed grid, with unsafe cars racing too close to each other, on a track that shouldn’t be hosting them in the first place. I can’t point at any part of that crash and say “well, that was just bad luck”, because it wasn’t.

    A fatal accident shouldn’t seem like an inevitable result of poor decisions.

    1. Ross says:

      Tim,

      I thought long and hard about writing a long angry post about this but your chosen comments have expressed my feeling perfectly.

      An utterly senseless loss. I am sure when the shock and sadness goes away I will feel different but I hope Indy Car goes down the tube after this.

      1. Tim Scarratt says:

        Ross, I’ll stop short of hoping that the series collapses as a result of Wheldon’s death, but I can understand why the events of the weekend might generate that immediate response.

        Indycar have a lot to put right over the off season. In a way they’re in a tough position, without having raced the new chassis in anger its hard for them to know how much that will break up the racing packs, or what further measures are needed.

    2. Ambient Sheep says:

      Well said.

    3. ChrisS says:

      This is spot on. Motor sport is dangerous and there will always be a chance of a freak accident that is fatal. There is no way of preventing that short of removing everything that makes motor sport what it is.

      However, in the modern era, ONLY a freak accident should be capable of causing death. Where the circumstances are such that a fatal accident is a predictable and plausible outcome, that is wrong.

      Today is a day for paying tribute to a popular and talented driver, not for recriminations. However, there does need to be a rigorous investigation into how a race could be staged in such a way.

  79. DanielH says:

    I’d be interested to hear American points of view about this terrible crash. When Senna and Ratzenberger died in 1994, F1 (which is predominantly European) reacted strongly by putting in makeshift chicanes and increasing measures to slow the cars down (e.g. the plank, holes in the airbox etc). Some even questioned there desire to race.

    But Indy has had a number of fatal crashes and nothing seems to change. Why not? Do Americans see death as very much a part of racing? Or is the nature of oval racing such that to make it safer would be to make it pointless?

    (On a related note, why do Indy fueltanks still rupture and catch fire like F1 tanks used to years ago?)

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      An American perspective:

      This is horrid. I didn’t see the race, only just saw the replay. I saw the accident that killed Greg Moore, and that seems to be what happened here: When you go headfirst into a barrier, any car without a roof, doesn’t matter if it’s F1, Indycar, NHRA – does. not. matter.

      For those who say that American racing has always been lax on safety, take note: The HANS device was first mandated in the Indycar series. F1, and NASCAR, had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do so.

      And those weren’t fuel tanks causing the fires you saw. That was from ruptured oil lines and/or oil tanks. Indycar doesn’t use gasonline; with the brief exception of Indianapolis, 1964 (in which a similar accident took the lives of Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald), it’s always run on methanol or (for years now) ethanol. You don’t get the kind of fire seen yesterday with that kind of fuel.

      Oval racing is dangerous. More, I’ve always thought, than F1. For those who don’t understand the history of it, I’ve quoted from one of the posts above:

      markdartj Reply:
      October 17th, 2011 at 9:55 am

      “The American fixation with racing on ovals comes from the early days of motor sports. Most races were held at fair grounds, most of which had horse racing tracks. In Europe, the early races were held on public roads. You see the difference.
      THe fact that Indy Car races on both ovals and street/road courses is what sets it apart from being an American version of F-1 racing. A driver needs to be proficient on both. The problem with Indy Car racing is lack of judgement in choosing which ovals to race on. Las Vegas Raceway was designed and built with NASCAR in mind. The cars are about 80mph slower, have more protection for the driver, and very little downforce, relying on mechanical grip to keep the cars on the road in the turns, hence the need for steep banking. On these tracks, an indy car driver can do the entire lap without lifting, doing 225mph. There are ovals that were initially designed for open wheel cars, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, The MIlwaukee Mile, Richmond, Michigan, Fontana, and Phoenix. These have less banking, usually only have one racing line through the turn, and require the driver to brake before corner entry (the exception being Indy, Michigan, and Fontana). There is much less camber or banking to keep the cars glued to the surface, which is made up by downforce from the car. These are the tracks that Indy should race on. Unfortunately, while they offer up good racing, they are under promoted, so very few of these races, except for Indy 500, put butts in the seats. Today could mark the end of Indy Car racing as we know it. Dan Wheldon’s death only put a cap on a season full of ineptitude by race control and the folks running the show. RIP Dan.”

      All of which I absolutely agree with. RIP, Dan.

    2. Ross says:

      My immediate concern on the live viewing was for the cleary concussed driver who’s car was still trundling down the main straight whilst half his car was in flames.

      Why on earth are those cars fuel tanks still rupturing like that?

  80. Cliff says:

    As fans we like to applaud our favourite teams and drivers. Sometimes our comments may be ‘over the top’ and uncalled for. In truth as much as we love Motorsport, the majority of us would neither have the talent or the will to ‘walk in their shoes’. I am confident however that none of us would ever wish for this to happen to another driver. Overnight Motorsport has once again shown its unforgiving side. A family man has lost his life living and enjoying his dream for us, his fans.

    My heart goes out to the family and friends of Dan Wheldon. I hope one day his children will told of their fathers bravery and courage and somehow be able to understand why their father wanted to be a Racing Driver.

    RIP Dan Wheldon, rest assured you will never be forgotten.

  81. Ian Hodgson says:

    Everytime I drive through the village of Emberton I think to myself, home of Dan Wheldon.Well I will still think that even though Dan isn’t with us anymore.
    A real tragedy and as someone else said the biggest shock since the news about Ayrton Senna.
    A true talent. You will be missed.
    My sincere condolences to his friends and family.

  82. Andrew Carter says:

    Terrible news to wake up to today, RIP Dan Wheldon and condolances to his friends and family.

    I’ve been following his carrer since he made his impressive debut for Panther Racing at the back end of the 2002 season and quickly established himself as one of the best drivers out there and i dont doubt that if he had the backing to get to F1 he would have been one of the top drivers here as well.

    As a side note, it was the last race for the old Dallara chassis, a very safe car when introduced 7/8 years ago but safety technology has moved on a long way since and IRL needs a new car badly. Lets hope that Dans legacy will be that he helped make the new Dallara chassis a much safer prospect for oval racing, as he was the official test driver and has so far done much of the track testing with it.

  83. Werewolf says:

    Dan Wheldon was one of the real personalities of the current Indycar era and a damn good driver to boot. I met him at Goodwood this year and he was as charming and ebullient in person as he always appeared on television. British and American motorsport have both lost a special competitor

    For those of us around long enough to recall the bad old days when accidents were all too often fatal, each such occurrence in the modern era seems so much harder to accept. Whilst mourning a tragic loss, let us hope that its happening will be the spur for greater advances in safety.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      +1000. Spot on, Werewolf.

  84. Matt W says:

    Credit to the GPDA for all their efforts in improving safety after Imola 94. I really hope the US drivers do something different although it is a totally different racing culture and I don’t expect any action will come of this.

    I believe the FIA should look closely at their endorsement of the sport.

    RIP Dan, followed your career for a while and you will be missed.

  85. Mr Squiggle says:

    Shocked. Just sad.

    He died what he loved doing, and his young family was trackside and its all so bloody tragic.

    I’m reminded very much of Schumacher’s words to the press after Senna died in 1994, something like ‘the only way to make sense of this is to learn from the mistake and improve’ [my para-phrasing]. His leadership and maturity in delivering those comments on the spot totally floored me and could be used in the same spirit today.

    Another point from me, perhaps a bit macabre.

    When Senna died, the in-car footage did not show Senna hitting the wall.

    17 years later and technology has moved forward, its totally different now.

    Do we want in-car footage of this sort of event? Do we want children watching this?

  86. Steve W says:

    An awful day for motorsport. Feel terrible for Dan’s friends and family. The tributes pouring in today show how highly respected Dan was in the motorsport world.

    I watched the race live and felt uncomfortable watching the opening laps, as there were just too many cars racing close together, and the speeds were insane, so it seemed only a matter of time until there was a serious accident. Sadly in motorsport it often takes a fatality for lessons to be learned and changes made.

  87. Stu says:

    How ironic I should mention yesterday’s blog comments about happy memories of Indycars in Mansell’s era then be woken up by this (headline news on BBC Radio 2 no less) terrible news. I, and everyone else here, loves motorsport in every genre it comes in but no-one wants to see this.

    My thoughts are with his family and especially his two young children.

  88. StefMeister says:

    Something which should be pointed out is that the new car which will be brought in next year has been designed to try & prevent cars flying over one another.

    It has a bumper behind the rear wheels & the bodywork infront of the rear wheels has all been designed to prevent cars been able to launch over the rear wheels.

    The floor also extends infront of the side-pod to prevent another cars wheels been able to get into a position to launch over the front wheels.

    Next years cars have many things built into them which not only make them a lot safer in the event of an accident but which should also keep cars on the ground.

    1. Randy Torres says:

      …yes and Dan Wheldon was the test driver for this new car, so a safer Indy car will be part of his legacy. I imagine many a quiet tear will be shed at the start of next season, when drivers strap into their newly designed cars for that 1st Indy race.

      1. Mark m says:

        Rename the main trophy after him as a fitting memorial

      2. StefMeister says:

        There is a suggestion out there to name the new car DW01 in honor of Dan.

      3. Randy Torres says:

        Its the LEAST they could do. Frankly, I would like to see some heads roll too. This is the United Sates, I know, and here we tend to always inject a little dose of PT Barnum in everything sports related, but the line has to be drawn when lives are at stake.

        Indycar and that Vegas track are like oil and water they don’t mix, and that whole business of $5 million for going from last to first, is just a an overdose of PT Barnum, which detracts from the serious nature of this sport (yes I know Wheldon didn’t cause the accident). F1 may have its share of clowns, buffoons and comical moments but they don’t mess with driver safety.

        Indycar management has been pathetic and they need to answer to a higher authority. Its the least that can be done to truly honor Dan Weldon.

  89. Glenn says:

    RIP Dan..Modern open wheelers are now too fast too well handling ( flat throttle ) for banked speedways.Have been now for many years.Rear of the grid chase the cash style races belong on the dirt tracks.Until the IRL wakes up i fear this will happen again.Seems a lot of drivers who would not be qualified to race in most open wheel catagories too easily get a ride in an indycar and be allowed to race at 200mph.

    1. Mark m says:

      There was only one person racing for cash and he didn’t cause the crash

  90. Shane says:

    Sickening to watch, Dan Wheldon was a great driver and by all accounts a real nice guy. R.I.P

    That said, and being from the US, I am disgusted with IndyCar. It is a sham of a series that has been torn to pieces over the years and has never lived up to it’s potential.

    Why did the cars explode into fireballs? Why are there chain link catch fences with metal poles not 10′ from the track? These are things you simply will not see in F1. Sure racing is dangerous, but this was just ridiculous.

    IndyCar, IRL, or whatever it is being called this week needs a serious overhaul. The series should focus on the amazing road courses we have in the US and run a limited number of the prestigious oval tracks. Maybe even just the Indianapolis 500?

    Running around picking up the scraps from NASCAR is no way to run a proper racing league.

    1. Dave_F1 says:

      The fire was just flash fire, In order to absorb energy the gerboxes are designed to crumple on impact & when that happens the oil briefly catches fire but goes out almost immediately.

      The catch fencing at Indycar tracks are built to the same standard as F1 & there are tracks in f1 which have the catch fencing that close to the tracks.
      Do you propose removing the catch fencing so that debris from accidents can go straght to the spectators?

      Also Indycar has been moving away from Ovals the past few years, There is only 5 ovals scheduled for 2012, The other 11 are Road/Street circuits.

      1. Shane says:

        I know, I know… All good points, it was just so awful.

        As for the fires, I went back and watched again and all but one car was a flash fire, so… not too bad I guess. One out of 15 or so. The one that did catch fire was completely destroyed at the rear, so I suppose that is understandable.

        I guess I am really just sickened by all of it. I know racing is dangerous, but that really just seemed ridiculous. We see pretty bad wrecks from time to time in F1, but it seems like they have really poured some thought and earnest effort into mitigating the danger as much as possible. Running 34 open wheeled, open cockpit cars on that track in Las Vegas was, in hindsight, a very bad idea. It seems like people knew it was a bad idea at the time too, but for the sake of the show they simply pressed on.

        I would love to see IndyCar come out of this stronger, hopefully they can pull it together.

    2. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Shane, this was my concern when the IRL was formed. An “open-wheel NASCAR” … it just worried me. I mean, NASCAR always counts on “the big one” (involving who knows how many cars each time) happening at Talledega and, to a lesser extent, Daytona. And the drivers generally hate the restrictor plate rules at those tracks, precisely because the packs are inescapable, where small mistakes cause catastrophe.

      Remember when CART went to Texas the first time? They cancelled the race when the speeds were too hight. I recall that the drivers were getting severe vertigo from the G forces – and those were measured as comparable to those experienced by astronauts. When the IRL went there, it was deemed safe, because the cars weren’t as fast. They’ve been too fast for some time now.

      It’s spectacular, and scary to watch, and Wheldon paid the ultimate price for sticking to the concept. Hopefully, the new car will mitigate some of the danger.

  91. Ross says:

    James.

    I was hoping you could lend some insight into television protocal for such horrendous events. I was watching the race live and knew from the first reply that we were dealing with a fatality. Yet we were shown the replay countless times, on board shots, super slow motion replays.

    If a footballer has a nasty break on the pitch the brodcaster tends not to show a reply. Why should motor sport be any different? I am sure I speak for the vast majority of fans when I say I dont want to see a replay of a man being killed over and over again.

    Thankfully no driver was killed whilst you were working on ITV but I do remember the Kubica accident being an accident that on first viewing we knew could have been badly injured. You and MB must have been around RK a few times by then and no doubt do not want to see the reply of an injured associate over and over again.

    I really felt for Eddie Cheever last night who sounded like he was close to tears. Do the broadcasters have any say on the replays been shown and can they request it stop.

  92. Jeff in Ohio says:

    It is a common misconception that American oval racing takes place “between concrete walls.” This is true for many smaller ovals where speeds are relatively modest. However, like most high speed ovals in the USA, the Las Vegas track has SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers rather than concrete walls. The SAFER system mitigates the severity of a crash when a driver impacts the outside wall. The first circuit to adopt the SAFER system was Indianpolis in 2002. Alas, poor Dan Wheldon became airborne and hit the catch fencing above the wall, so the SAFER system did not come into play. It is perhaps worth noting that there are only 5 oval races on the provisional 2012 Indycar calendar, versus 7 street and road circuits. And yes, Las Vegas is on the provisional calendar. I wonder if it will remain so?

    – Jeff

  93. Paul H says:

    Thoughts are with his family, especially wife and children. Seen him on tv many times and he has always come across as a genuine and likeable guy.

    As much as people say that F1 has become too sanitized over the years with the implementation of ever more safety features, in a moment like this you really appreciate the effort put into such things and realise the human aspect of the sport. A great ambassador for motorsport was lost in a display of greed above safety in an effort to entertain the masses(to my mind anyway – too many cars on an unsuitable track).

  94. Lez Martin says:

    I was devastated to here the news first thing this morning, a true tragedy, the Images now locked in my head for ever, just like the Images of Those that went before him, It brings into reality the dangers of the sport, and shows that Indy cars, with their higher speeds, on tracks with concrete walls, are more dangerous than the F1 cars of today, yes its been 5 years since Paul Dana died, in an horrific crash, but 7 others have lost their lives In either Indy,champ or IRL, since Ayrton Senna lost his life, and was the last driver to lose his life in an F1 crash, so maybe its about time the organisers stateside took a look at safety issues….RIP Dan, my thoughts are with your family…..

  95. Allie says:

    RIP Dan. He was such an engaging personality and spoke with such passion for Indycar and I was so happy that he was going to have afull-time ride with Andretti next year.

    I really wonder if drivers like Dario and Tony Kanaan will be driving next year. They lost a great friend in Greg Moore, and now Dan.

    And a job well done to the Sky sports team and ABC. I would have liked to see the tribute but I can understand that Sky felt the need to end the coverage.

  96. Dizzy says:

    I feel I should set something straght for the people that don’t follow/understand Indycar racing regarding safety.

    Indycar racing is incredibly safe, Things like the HANS device & rear crash structures (Of which F1 uses a varient) were both developed & 1st run in Indycar. The SAFER barrier run at all Ovals was developed by the Indy Motor Speedway & 1st run during Indycar events.

    The cars are also incredibly safe, They have to run to FIA safety standards & drivers have walked away from some really big accidents in recent years, Inlcuding some big 230mph hits at indy.

    The biggest problem with Indycar racing is firstly the Dallara chassis been run untill now. Since 2003 its been very prone to taking off & sending drivers into the Catch-Fencing, This is something which the actual indycar series has tried to fix but since it was an inherant problem with the actual Dallara chassis there wasn’t a great deal they could do short of introducing a new chassis (Which they will do for 2012).

    The other problem is that Aero package they run on these sorts of Oval. They run a higher downforce package than they should in order to create Pack-racing similar to Nascar Plate racing.
    While this racing can at times be exciting to watch & does produces some fantastic finishes (Like at Kansas 2 weeks ago) its not something which should be done everywhere as its more dangerous on some circuits than it is others.

    There is no reason for Indycar to stop racing on ovals or stop racing on tracks like this. They just need to do something like what CART did & create an Aero Package which slows speeds, disbands the big packs but doesn’t make the racing less exciting.

    CART’s answer was something called the hanford device. A strip of carbon across the bottom of the rear wing which created a lot of drag & a massive hole in the air which brought back the slipstreaming sling-shot pass.

    By its very nature Oval racing will be more dangerous because speeds are higher & the walls are closer. Despite last nights tragic events Indycar should not walk away from Oval racing completely, Its a big part of Indycar’s past & there biggest race of the year (The Indy 500) is afterall an oval.

    The 2012 car (Which ironically Dan Wheldon helped develop) has a lot of additional safety built into it to prevent the car taking off & getting into the catch-Fencing, This should prevent another accident like what was seen yesterday from happening.

    The 2012 car will be a lot safer & with the right aero package they will be able to continue racing on circuits like Las Vegas more safely.

  97. Rob Newman says:

    RIP Dan! You will be sadly missed.

  98. Oliver Drew says:

    This shows why IndyCar need to go through the same process that F1 did after the death of Senna.

    RIP Dan. Great character…great driver.

    Hopefully his family will be given space to grieve.

  99. Nige says:

    My heartfelt condolences to the family and may Dan Wheldon rest in peace. I don’t think now in hindsight people should call to ban this style of racing. I’m sure Dan wouldn’t agree as he was one of the best oval racers on the planet and brought a lot pleasure to his fans. Indy car has been exceptionally safe over the years despite the dangers. No motorsport or in fact sport of any kind can guarantee 100% safety.

  100. zombie says:

    Those who are talking about the “barbaric” practice of putting the fastest guys at the back of the grid and then asking them to rip through the field to win millions of dollars,remember,post 2002 Mosley and Bernie both mulled long and hard about a similar rule to stop the Schumacher juggernaut!

    As for the safety concerns on US circuits, the issue is with cars that are reaching ridiculous speeds on ovals that has limited/or no tolerance for errors.The circuits are on par with the best in the world,its the inherent unforgiving nature of ovals and the lack of run-0ff areas that makes motorracing in US so dangerous, and ofcourse some terrible luck. Who remembers Motogp 2010 at Indianapolis when young Peter Lenz died of severe injuries after being runover by fellow compitetors?

    1. Mark m says:

      That runs on the modified f1 track backwards

  101. Randy Torres says:

    Good father, good husband, good friend, good racer and already dearly missed. Dan Wheldon, may you sleep among the tall trees.

  102. Nick Hipkin says:

    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

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Iowa is actually a 7/8ths of a mile track with much lower speeds than Vegas or Texas, which itself is a much safer track as its much wider.

      I agree with most of what you’ve said though, safety at high banked ovals needs to be closely looked at and for the sub 2 mile tracks a grid limit would be a very good idea.

  103. Pat says:

    As a Yank, and a die hard F1 fan (US racing does nothing for me) sadly I didnt know who Mr. Wheldon was until last night when I saw the terrible footage. From reading all of the above posts, it sounds like he was a terrific guy, and I am sorry for the loss of a true gentleman, hero, racer, and amassador to those of you who live in the UK, and the rest of Europe. My heart goes out to you, and his family.

    RIP Dan

  104. Cam says:

    This is exactly why indi cars shouldn’t race on oval tracks. They can go fram 0MPH to nearly 230MPH in hust a few seconds. Even when ther on street corses when thay crash at 60MPH thay just all fall apart!
    I hace belived that thes kinds of tracks wher so fast for them. I can finaly proove my point,
    Rest In Peace Dan.

    1. markdartj says:

      Those speeds are reached only on a couple of ovals, mostly Indy, Michigan, Fontana and the High banked 1.5 mile ovals like Texas and Las Vegas. The first three were actually designed for open wheel racing, the latter two were not. As I have stated earlier, it’s the tracks designed for NASCAR that are, in my opinion, totally unsuited for open wheel racing, because of the high banking. The speed differentials between the front of the grid and the back are minimal, causing the cars to remain in a bunched up pack like we saw for the first few laps last weekend. Also, the cars are supposed to fall apart. this is what dissipates the energy which would otherwise kill the driver, like in the sixties and seventies, when they used tube frame chassis. Banning all ovals from Indy Car is wrong. They were designed for ovals.

  105. Krishna says:

    I hope IRL sees to it that they start taking some of the safety features and the such from F1 and fighter jets, and eventually incorporate these elements into their chassis.

    An aside is in noting that the IRL has slipped from it’s CART racing heritage (before someone jumps me, CART and IRL merged a few years ago) and prefers increasing the show of a race over actual race craft.

    Though this is not unlike F1, I still don’t think the IRL takes into account of the safety factors involved. F1 learned from the events in 1994 and clearly it is time for the “lesser” series to do the same.
    RIP Dan

    1. markdartj says:

      The Indy Cars (the term IRL hasn’t been in use since the “merger” (takeover) of Champcar and IRL. It is now the Izod Indy Car Series, or IndyCar for short. CART was no longer an organization at the time of the merger. It was the Champcar World Series. Because they travel at a much higher rate of speed (on ovals) than an F-1 car, Indy cars are actually put through a much more rigorous series of tests. There would have been many more deaths over the last few years if they were using F-1 cars.

  106. Derek Lorimer says:

    Farewell Dan Wheldon. You will now join Jim Clark and Aryton Senna in heaven. I feel so sad for his family. Motor Sport can be so cruel.

  107. Robert Powers says:

    I want to thank Great Britain for all of your top talent though the years. Too many to name. I am sorry that this ill-conceived notion took your son. We loved Dan, it was easy to forget where he came from, one of our own. But I immediately thought of you. All of the great drivers both the living and the dead you have given to the world. I want you to remember this about Dan. It was a quiet night on Twitter in November a couple of years ago. All of us suffering “racing withdrawal”, a very painful condition. All of the sudden here’s @DanWheldon! He’s talking trash to another competitor about an upcoming Kart race in Las Vegas! It was obvious he was serious, not a joke or an advert for the event. BTW, here is a Wheldon ad:“I couldn’t be more excited to be participating in SKUSA SuperNationals again this year,” Wheldon said. “I have to say that this race is one of my absolute favorites. It is really a testament to the level of competition. The talent participating is so great that you really do feel like you are at a professional-level racing event.

    “And having Las Vegas host America’s premier karting event makes SuperNats a destination for the participants and the fans alike. I’m telling you, it’s going to be a great time, and I look forward to bringing in a win in the National Guard/Arrow/BTK kart.”

    In America Tony Stewart represents this old school type of driver, and he does so admirably.

    But- for the rest of my life in my mind- Dan Wheldon embodied it.

  108. well it is times like these that max mosely and the FIA seem justified is the actions that they take sometimes in regards to safety. believe me when i say am no max fan, and i was never a fan of grooved tires if F1, but someone has to think of the safety of the drivers and the the spectators. there have been no deaths in F1 since the tragic weekend in san marino in 94 when of course as we all know Senna and Ratzenberger passed away, which on the face of it is quite remarkable. but as we can all see death is just one small mistake away, in any formula, f1, indy, la mans, dtm, world rally, or for that matter even with the smaller less powerful cars, such as the bmw, cheve’s vaxhulls, etc. it is true that ovals with 3 tree wide at 190+ mph is quite a different situation than F1, but none the less, the wheldon tragedy just reminds everyone that race car divers really risk their lives every time they get into a race car. there has been a lot of talk over the years recently in formula one about “improving the show,” or that F1 is “entertainment.” this is true of course, but it does seem like a strange way to describes something that can end in a death/s.

  109. Karen says:

    God bless Dan Wheldon’s family and friends. Please post where we can purchase a copy of his coffee table “Lionheart” This would be a great to contribute to his fund. Gods spead Dan.

  110. MICHAEL DEAN says:

    never felt this saddened since ayrton sennas accident
    rip dan

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