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Brit Dan Wheldon dies in horrific IndyCar crash

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 00:00:00 -0700

Dan Wheldon dies in Las Vegas IndyCar race

Dan Wheldon, despite being a Brit (he hailed from Buckinghamshire) is not the first racing driver’s name to trip off the tongue in the UK. But he was good; too good to have been killed by the sport he loved.

Dan started life in racing in the UK via the route of most racing drivers – Karts. He had some success in the UK – he was a contemporary of Jenson Button – but left the UK in 1999 to seek fame and fortune in the US.

Dan found considerable success in the US, becoming the entire IndyCar champion in 2005 – winning the famous Indy500 in the process – and won this year’s Indy500 race too.

Yesterday’s tragedy was a 15 car accident in the Las Vegas Indy 300 where Dan’s Dallara was catapulted over another car and thrown in to the fencing. Dan was airlifted to hospital, but died from his injuries. He was just 33.

Fans of motor racing have become used to drivers walking away from even the most horrific of accidents; thanks in no small part to the huge progress in F1 safety in the years since Jackie Stewart campaigned for drivers’ safety to be a paramount consideration. But motor racing is dangerous, however good the drivers and however conscientious the series organisers are about safety.

It’s arguable that IndyCar racing is less safe than F1, and perhaps addressing that concern will be Dan Wheldon’s legacy.

There were concerns that the track at Las Vegas was too fast, with drivers reaching speeds of 225mph in practice. There is also the questionable decision to offer a $5 million prize for any non-regular driver starting from the back of the grid who took the win. Perhaps that contributed to a more aggressive drive from some than was safe.

But all that’s for later. All that matters is a ridiculously young and talented driver has lost his life.

Our thoughts are with Dan’s wife, Susie, their sons Oliver and Sebastian, his family and friends.

By Cars UK