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Dan Wheldon

Posted by Amy in General

I hate being at a loss for words, but I am.  As I tweeted on Sunday, I was sad to find out about the passing of driver Dan Wheldon.  I had not witnessed it- I was out scouring the county looking for that perfect pumpkin with nephews and my brother and sister-in-law and our parents. I got a text between pumpkin patches from Misty asking me if I was watching the Indy car car race.  I knew the cars were in Vegas for their finale this weekend.  She offhandedly mentioned that Danica Patrick was doing an autograph appearance at a nearby 7-11 and asked if i wanted her to get me an autograph.  I replied that I would rather have Dan Wheldon’s.   Anyway- I texted her back immediate with: NO IS THE RACE GOOD? A few minutes later I got a phone call from her that there had been an horrendous accident…multiple airborne cars…Dan Wheldon was being airlifted to UMC.  Misty wasn’t home but was about to be and told me she would let me know what was going on.  I soon got more details through text from her…red flag, media being dispatched to UMC for updates…then she texted me and said the race was still red flagged and they called the drivers into some meeting.  It was then that my heart sunk to my stomach.  I wasn’t surprised when her next text told me Dan didn’t make it.

There are lots of heartwarming tributes to Dan Wheldon out there- and I honestly feel that I can’t really add much to that.  See while I was a huge fan of Indy cars back in the early 90′s, I had honestly wandered away from the sport about the time CART was split…and it never really got my full attention again as some of my favorite drivers went to IRL some to CHAMP and I was left wondering which to watch…eventually turning back to NASCAR as my favorite motorsport when they stopped running Indy cars at my locak track (Laguna Seca- now Mazda Raceway). My only real connection to Dan Wheldon was watching him win both his Indy 500 races (you can take IRL away from the girl but she will still watch the Indy 500) on TV and then earlier this summer I got to see the actual car he won the Indy 500 in on display at the Ronald Reagan Library:

My favorite part of the racing exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Library- Dan Wheldon's INDY 500 winning car! I haven't been this close to an IRL car since before there was IRL! (Photo Credit: Amy Marbach)

A death from an on-track incident in any form of motorsports is a scary event to racing fans no matter what your preferred form of motorsports be.  It’s scary because it makes the fact that this sport we love to watch is inherently dangerous just a little more tangible.  It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of open wheel indy cars doing 200+ mph, or 3800 lb stock cars going around in circles, or top fuel funny cars dashing down the quarter mile or motogp bikes…things can go terribly wrong terribly fast.  Immediately after I heard of Dan Wheldon’s death, my brain would keep flashing back to something Tony Stewart said – sometime around his birthday I believe.  I don’t remember the exact context of the quote- but he said something to the effect of “As it is, I have always thought I am living on borrowed time.” At the time I rolled my eyes  and thought to myself that Tony was being a bit over-dramatic about his 40th birthday but Dan Wheldon’s tragic accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway makes those words a little more real…a little more stinging.

That being said…there is a Dan Wheldon memorial page with lots of information and pictures posted about Dan as well as a place for fans to leave messages of condolences.  The most recent news is that there will be a public memorial at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN on October 23rd at 4:00 PM.

There is a trust being set up for the Wheldon family…monetary donations:

Fifth Third Private Bank
Attn: Dan Wheldon Family Trust
251 North Illinois St.
Suite 1000
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Fans who were in attendance at the race can request refunds (info available here)…there is a big online movement for fans requested refunds to donate their refunds to the trust listed above.

There is also word of a gokart race at Pole Position Raceway in Las Vegas on Arville (near Flamingo) on November 6th. Tickets are $60.00 with a portion of the proceeds going to the trust set up for Dan’s children.

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