2 OCTOBER 19 2011 motorsport-news.co.uk
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THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2792
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P10 Lewis Hamilton’s lack of downforce is being assessed
NEAL WINS THIRD BTCC
CROWN IN THRILLER
Honda star rates triumph as his toughest challenge
LATVALA: I’LL BE WATCHING OUT FOR SORDO
Ford ace says Spaniard can win in Mini on home turf
MALVERN TRIUMPHS IN
Briton takes win to deny flying teenage Dutchman
Korean Grand Prix report
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Briton loses his life after huge accident
By James Attwood British IndyCar Series star Dan Wheldon was killed following an accident in last Sunday’s season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The 33-year-old, the 2005 series champion and a double Indianapolis 500 winner, was one of 15 drivers involved in a huge accident on the 11th lap of the race. The race was stopped andmedical staff worked for more than half an hour to extract Wheldon from the wreckage of his car. The driver was airlifted to University Medical Center in downtown Las Vegas, where hewas pronounced dead. IndyCar Series CEORandyBernard said his injuries were “unsurvivable.” Wheldon hadn’t been able to secure a full-time IndyCar Series drive this year, and his outing at Las Vegas was just his third of the season. Hewas contesting the race in aDallara-Honda run by Sam Schmidt Motorsports as part of a special bonus programme designed to gain publicity for the series. Wheldon agreed to start at the back of the record 34-car field, and was bidding to collect $5million [£3.1million], split between him and a fan, if hewon the race. He had already made up ten places by the time of the accident.
Scottish racer Dario Franchitti, who secured his record fourth IndyCar Series title last weekend, led tributes to his former team-mate: “I’m numband speechless. One minute you’re joking around in the driver introductions and the next he’s gone. Hewas six years old when I first met him. We’d known him since hewas a little kid and then he’s my team-mate in IndyCar. Wehad a couple of fallouts along the way but he was a friend. I lost a good friend. Everyone saw Dan as a good friend.” Wheldon is survived by his wife, Susie, two young sons, his parents, Clive and Susie, and three siblings.
The accident The crash occurred on the 11th lap of the 200-lap season finale.
It was sparked when two cars touched in the middle of a tight pack in the high-speed oval’s second turn, with numerous other machines then crashing into them. Wheldon was running near the back of the pack, and his car struck the back of another. That lifted it into the air, with the car then striking the safety fence on the edge of the circuit.
“I could see within five laps people were starting to do crazy stuff,” said Franchitti, who narrowly avoided being involved in the crash. “I love hard racing but that to me is not really what it’s about.”
Wheldon was killed after a crash on lap 11 at Las Vegas
Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe was ahead of the crash, but had to drive past the debris on his next lap. He said: “I’ve never seen anything
Multi-car accident beg an ahead of Wheldon (not in shot) on track like it. The debris we all had to drive through, it looked like awar scene from The Terminator. It was scary.”
The Las Vegas event, called the Izod IndyCar Series World Championship, had been added onto this year’s calendar at the suggestion of series boss Randy Bernard, whowanted a high profile season finale.
The 1.5-mile oval has progressive banking that reaches 20 degrees in the turns, and its smooth surface and wide track meant that IndyCars could run flat-out for the full length of the circuit. Tony Kanaan claimed pole for the race at an average speed of 222.078mph. With a bumper 34-car entry for the event, drivers had predicted there could be a big incident in the race. Before the race, series veteran Paul Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
motorsport-news.co.uk OCTOBER 19 2011 3
DAN WHELDON 1978-2011
in IndyCar Series finale
TRIBUTES PAID TO BRITISH HERO
Dr iv ers paid tr ib ute to Br iton with a f iv e-lap ru n
“This is a tragic loss at such a young age. Dan was an extremely talented driver. He was a racer I’d followed throughout mycareer, as I often followed in his footsteps as he climbed the motorsport ladder. 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.” Lewis Hamilton
“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 and also a great guy.” Jenson Button
“His infectious smile, bubbly personality and big heart madeDan one of the most caring people I had ever met. You could never ask for a better ambassador to a sport.” Randy Bernard, IndyCar Series CEO
Briton was having his third outing of the season
Tracy told indycar.com: “You can run anywhere. You can run against the wall. You are going to see threeand-a-half wide racing here. It’s going to be awild race. To be in the middle of the field might not be the best situation early on.” Will Power, Buddy Rice, Alex Lloyd, EJViso, Charlie Kimball, Tomas Scheckter, Jay Howard, Wade Cunningham, Pippa Mann, JRHildebrand, James Jakes, Townsend Bell and Vitor Meira were also involved in the accident.
Power, Hildebrand and Brit Mannwere taken to University Hospital by ground transport to be checked out. Power, who has complained of back pain, was later released. Mannwas released on Monday after surgery for burns on her hand. Hildebrand came out of
“Hewas such a big presence in our sport and quite a talent. Today we lost a little bit of Indycar. He raced at our team for three years, won six races andmademany friends.” Chip Ganassi, Ganassi Racing boss hospital onMonday after suffering from a bruised sternum. Wheldon was the first driver to be killed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since the oval was opened in 1996. Hewas the first driver to be killed in an IndyCar event since Paul Dana died after a crash at Homestead in 2006.
‘A tremendous competitor’ Wheldon spent much of this year on the sidelines after losing his full-time drive with Panther Racing at the end of last season. He secured a one-off outing in the Indianapolis 500 in a car run by Bryan Herta Autosport, and took an incredible victory when rival JRHildebrand crashed while leading on the last lap.
event the in drivers guest five run but prize, $5million the for come couldn’t they when they any with terms to the Wheldon offered in part take to chance
IndyCar Daddy Go the Challenge.
up teamed Wheldon
While that victory didn’t lead to a full-time drive, it did help Wheldon secure his run at Vegas. Series bosses had originally planned to run five guest drivers in the event for the $5million prize, but when they couldn’t come to terms with any they offered Wheldon the chance to take part in the GoDaddy IndyCar Challenge. Wheldon teamed up with Sam Schmidt Motorsports for the event, and as a warm-up contested the recent IndyCar race at Kentucky
Schmidt Sam with the for Motorsports a as and event, warm-up contested recent the IndyCar at race Kentucky with the team. He finished 14th. Schmidt, whowas paralysed after suffering spinal cord injuries following a crash during an IndyCar test in 2000, said: “Dan was a tremendous competitor, a
“Dan said: 2000, in test IndyCar a competitor, tremendous a was great racer and an even better better even an and racer great team.”
to honour an was It person.
person. It was an honour to have him be a part of our our of part a be him have team.”
Tribute run The race was halted for two hours while the track was two for halted was race The was track the while hours cleared and series bosses bosses series and cleared on word for waited waited for word on
Wheldon’s condition. All
Franchitti: “Dan was a friend”
the drivers were then called to a meeting where they were told of the Briton’s death. The race was abandoned, with the drivers voting to stage a five-lap demonstration run inWheldon’s honour. Wheldon’s car number, 77, was displayed on the scoreboard, while Amazing Grace and Danny Boy were played by event organisers. The IndyCar Series award ceremony, which was due to be held in Las Vegas onMonday night, was cancelled.
“I know this is a dangerous sport. I knowwe’re exposed to that every day in normal life as well, but you don’t think about it,” said Tony Kanaan, Wheldon’s former teammate. “Today we had to think about it. Hewas one of mybest friends and greatest team-mates.”
“I spent so many races trying to match Daniel as we grew up and raced together. I’m utterly devastated to hear the sad news.” Anthony Davidson, Peugeot LeMans racer and BBCFive Live commentator
“I had the pleasure of meeting Dan at the National Guard Youth Challenge dinner about five years ago. His success as a racer speaks for itself, but I will remember him as a true professional who was friendly, respectful and genuine.” Dale Earnhardt Jr, NASCAR Sprint Cup racer
HOW WHELDON SCALED THE HEIGHTS IN AMERICA, PAGE 4