Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed today in a horrific, fiery crash at the season ending race of the IZOD Indy Series in Las Vegas. He was 33.
The crash came just 13 laps into the race. After the initial few cars became entangled, Wheldon's #77 came speeding in, jumped the back of one car, then slid into the wall. The car then slid up into the catch fence and disintegrated. Wheldon was airlifted from the track to University Medical Center. About two hours later, his colleagues were told of his death.
|Photo by: Robert Laberge|
"It was like a movie scene which they try to make as gnarly as possible," said Danica Patrick, making her final IndyCar start. "It was debris everywhere across the whole track, you could smell the smoke, you could see the billowing smoke on the back straight from the car. There was a chunk of fire we were driving around. You could see cars scattered."
The remainder of the race was canceled. Drivers solemnly returned to the track for a five-lap tribute to Wheldon, almost all of them hiding their eyes behind dark sunglasses after being told their colleague was gone. As Roger Penske met with his team trackside and other drivers simply hugged those around them, Bernard made the announcement of Wheldon's death.
When drivers returned to the track, Wheldon's No. 77 was the only one on the towering scoreboard. Dario Franchitti sobbed uncontrollably as he got back into his car for the tribute laps. Over speakers at the track, the song "Danny Boy" blared, followed by "Amazing Grace," as hundreds of crew workers from each team stood watching.
The 2005 and 2011 Indy 500 winner and 2005 series champion is survived by his wife Susie and two sons, Sebastian and Oliver.
|Photo by: Johnathan Ferrey|