Sunday, October 23, 2011

Auto Racing Community Honours Dan Wheldon

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

Only 6 days ago a terrible lose in the motorsport world occurred with a fatal crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway's IZOD INDYCAR Series finale. Taking the life of two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon from this planet tragically, the incident left many grieving. In particularly affected by the loss of Wheldon is his wife Susie and two children.

On Saturday, the funeral for the accomplished open wheel and sports car driver took place in the British driver's American hometown of St Petersburg, Florida. Attended by Dan Wheldon's family, friends and close motorsport associates, the somber occasion was the most poignant farewell. Leaving from the First Presbyterian Church, fellow drivers acted as pallbearers to the coffin containing the athlete they were competing against the previous Sunday.

Quickly sharing their hurt feelings for their lost competitor and friend, Twitter lit up on Sunday night with drivers of all motorsport faucets voicing their condolences. Teammate during the Las Vegas race Alex Tagliani tweeted "It's a very sad day. He was my little brother from another mother he was so happy to show me is new Tattoo from last night SW on wrist". Remaining vocal on his emotions and respect for Dan Wheldon, the racer's former teammate at Andretti/Green Racing between 2003 to 2005 Tony Kanaan replied initially "No words to describe the pain. See you on the other side my dear friend. You will be missed.". A fierce competitor with Wheldon in his past progression through the European open wheel racing series, current McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button shared his impromptu eulogy on Twitter saying "I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90's, a true fighter. We've lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy...".

Suffering the closest loss, Dan Wheldon's family bravely shared the life of the son, brother, husband and father through the past week. Dan's father Clive Wheldon spoke a day after the Las Vegas event saying "Daniel was born to be a racer and left us doing what he loved to do".  Susie Wheldon, wife of Dan Wheldon who first united with her father husband as his motorsport personal assistant, issued a statement of gratitude. Within Susie Wheldon's statement, she said "Although the last few days have been unbearable for our family, the overwhelming love and support we have received are rays of sunshine during these dark days. The outpouring of sympathy and condolences has been so comforting, and I want to thank everyone for their kind notes, letters, gifts and flowers".

A public ceremony will be held on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis honouring the life of the great racer and outstanding human being. Former Andretti/Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and the newly-proclaimed IZOD INDYCAR champion Dario Franchitti will be some individuals speaking at the memorial. Also speaking as a former teammate as well as Dan Wheldon's 2011 Indy 500 car owner Bryan Herta will also share his thoughts. Randy Bernard, INDYCAR CEO, will represent the sport's sanctioning body's voice on Sunday paying tribute to Wheldon.

For fans from want to bid their deepest condolences to Dan Wheldon, his family recommends a donation to either the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund or the Alzheimer's Association. Additional charity provisions in Dan Wheldon's honour will be made through an online auction starting Monday October 24th. Benefits from the proceeds of this auction will be directed to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund.

Apart from the two memorial services and the charitable support, Wheldon's will also receive remembrance  on the race track as Dallara has pledged to name the new 2012 Indy Car after the driver. Dan Wheldon had served as the test driver for the car that will replace the current spec machine next season. In more immediate tributes to the British racer, competitions in NASCAR as well as the Australian V8 Supercar race this weekend will wear special decals in honour of Wheldon's life.

Sunday's public memorial service will take place at the Conseco Fieldhouse at 4PM local time in Indianapolis, Indiana. For fans wishing to observe the ceremony, television airing on VERSUS as well as on-line coverage will be carried on ESPNEWS,,, and  

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