Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dan Wheldon, champion Indy Car driver dies in fatal crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The motorsports world has experienced a terrible loss this weekend. A turn two crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on lap 11 took the life of famed British racer Dan Wheldon.

Wheldon was known for his personality and humor, second only to his success on the race track. Wheldon's career is highlighted by his two wins at the Indianapolis 500, the greatest auto race in the world. He is also a champion in the Indy car series. As far as drivers go, Wheldon will be remembered as one of the legends. He drove and acted like those champions of the past. His presence was always known on the track. Wheldon was a very popular driver among his peers and the fans.

The crash was caused by a series of mishaps on the track. After two cars made contact and began to turn sideways, a driver lost control trying to avoid the wreck. More cars began piling up into the wreck that was still moving at over 190 miles per hour. Wheldon came into the picture on the bottom of the track. He had started last in the race, but was making an impressive march to the front. He made contact with a car that checked up ahead of him, which elevated the nose of Wheldon's car into the air. The car then flew into the wall and catch fence. The collision was enough to cause fatal injuries. Wheldon was pronounced dead from the hospital not long after the crash.

The race was red flagged and later cancelled when the news was released. Wheldon's fellow drivers, stricken with grief, decided to run 5 slow laps dedicated to Wheldon and his family. Atop the scoring pylon stood Wheldon's #77 throughout these memorial laps.

This horrific event has brought into question the safety of Indy Car Racing. The last fatality in the series was Paul Dana in 2006 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 2 deaths within 5 years is not a good record these days in motorsports. What will be done about the safety issues for the drivers, and what affect this will have on Indy Car is yet to be seen.

R.I.P. Dan (22 June 1978 – 16 October 2011)

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