Date:Monday October 17 2011
Motorsport was hit hard last night as former two time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was tragically killed.
The 33-year-old British driver was one of the finest exports to Indy Racing that this country had ever produced.
Wheldon won the IndyCar drivers championship in 2005 and won the Indy 500 in the same year and repeated the feat just a few months ago. He was the first British driver to win one of the worlds most famous races since Graham Hill in 1966.
The incident which took his life occurred on lap 13 of the season finale at the Las Vegas Indy 300.
15 cars were involved in the collision at speeds of over 200mph. Wheldon's number 77 car crashed into other cars who had already been involved in the initial incident. Wheldon's car went airborne and crashed into the catch fencing. He was air lifted to hospital by helicopter, but was later pronounced dead by IndyCar officials.
IndyCar decided to end the race and the drivers completed a five-lap salute.
Wheldon was a popular driver in the world of motorsport and previously raced with a number of drivers currently in Formula One including Jenson Button and Mark Webber.
2009 Formula One World champion Jenson Button wrote on Twitter: 'I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90s, a true fighter. We've lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy.'
McLaren team-mate and 2008 Formula One World champion Lewis Hamilton said: 'This is a tragic loss at such a young age.'
'He was an extremely talented driver. 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.
Fellow Brit, former team-mate and four-time IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti said: 'My heart goes out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.'
'Right now I'm numb and speechless. One minute you're joking around in driver intros and the next he's gone, He was six years old when I first met him. He was this little kid and the next thing you know he was my team-mate.
'We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and today it doesn't matter.'
Dan Wheldon History
Born in Emberton on 22nd June 1978
Unable to afford the money required in the UK to get into racing he moved to the USA in 1999 and went on to win the F2000 championship.
In 2002 he made his debut in IndyCars.
In 2004 he won his first IndyCar race and went on to win two more events, coming second in the championship.
In 2005 he won 6 races, including the Indy 500, winning the Indy Car championship.
In 2006 he won 2 races and came finished the season level on points with Sam Hornish, Jr. Wheldon missed out on back-to-back titles on a tiebreaker (Hornish, Jr had won four races, Wheldon two).
In 2007 he turned down a move to Formula One with the BMW Sauber team as he would not be guaranteed a regular race drive.
In 2011 he returned to winning ways winning the Indy 500 for a second time. He dedicated his win to his Mother ho had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
He leaves behind his wife Susie and two children Sebastian who is 2-years-old and Oliver who is 7-months old.
Date:Monday October 17 2011
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