Dan Wheldon dies following crash

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    Weather130
     
     

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    Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Weather130 on Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:56 pm

    LAS VEGAS -- Dan Wheldon, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner and one of the most popular drivers in open-wheel racing, died Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a horrific multi-car crash on Lap 11 of the IndyCar Series season finale.

    Officials decided to call the race, but the drivers did a five-lap tribute to Wheldon. IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard made the official announcement of Wheldon's death without further comment.

    "IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries," Bernard said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. IndyCar, its drivers and owners, have decided to end the race. In honor of Dan Wheldon, the drivers have decided to do a five-lap salute to in his honor."

    Wheldon was airlifted from the Las Vegas track at 1:19 p.m. local time Sunday and taken to a nearby hospital, becoming the first IndyCar driver to die on the track since rookie Paul Dana was killed in practice on the morning of race day at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2006.

    As word began to spread that his injuries were fatal, those at the track could not control their tears. Television cameras captured Ashley Judd, the wife of IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, dabbing at her eyes shortly before the official word came.

    The remainder of the race was canceled. Drivers solemnly returned to the track for the five-lap tribute, 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.

    "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today," Bernard said.

    When drivers returned to the track, Wheldon's No. 77 was the only one on the towering scoreboard. 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 solemnly.

    The race was only minutes old when Wheldon was one of 15 cars involved in the wreck that started when two cars touched tires.

    Several cars burst into flames, and debris was all over the track, some of the impact so intense that workers needed to patch holes in the asphalt.

    Video replays showed Wheldon's car turning over as it went airborne and sailed into what's called the "catch fence," which sits over the SAFER barrier that's designed to give a bit when cars make contact. Rescue workers were at Wheldon's car quickly, some furiously waving for more help to get to the scene.

    Wheldon, 33 and the 2005 series champion from Emberton, England, was competing in only his third IndyCar race of the season, trying to win the event and earn a $5 million bonus that was part of a league promotion for drivers who didn't compete full-time in the series this year.

    He was the only driver to accept the challenge. This year's Indy 500 was the second time Wheldon had won the prestigious event. He also won it in 2005 and won 16 times overall in his IndyCar career

    Wheldon was expected to replace Danica Patrick next season in the Go-Daddy-sponsored car for Andretti Autosport.

    Patrick is moving to NASCAR full-time in 2012.

    Sunday's wreck left Townsend Bell upside down while smoldering cars and debris littered the track nearly halfway up the straightaway of the 1.5-mile oval.


    There are no words for today. Myself and so many others are devastated. I pray for suzi (Wheldon's wife) and the kids that god will give them strength.

    -- Danica Patrick
    The accident appeared to start when Wade Cunningham's car swerved on the track and JR Hildebrand drove over the left rear of Cunningham's car. Hildebrand appeared to go airborne, and Cunningham's car shot up into the wall, setting off a chain reaction among the cars behind him.

    Some of those cars slowed, others didn't, and others spun in front of Wheldon and championship contender Will Power. There was so much chaos on the track it was hard to tell who was driving what car.

    Power appeared to fly over Alex Lloyd's car, rolling into the catchfence and landing on its right side. His in-car camera showed one of the front tires coming toward him in the cockpit.

    Wheldon then appeared to drive over Paul Tracy's car. Tracy seemed to be slowing but Weldon did not. He went airborne and spun into the fence.

    The track was red-flagged following the accidents while crews worked on fences and removed smashed cars.

    "There are no words for today," Patrick tweeted. "Myself and so many others are devastated. I pray for suzi (Wheldon's wife) and the kids that god will give them strength."

    Drivers had been concerned about the high speeds at the track, where they were hitting nearly 225 mph during practice.

    "I'll tell you, I've never seen anything like it," Ryan Briscoe said. "The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something. I mean, there were just pieces of metal and car on fire in the middle of the track with no car attached to it and just debris everywhere.

    Also injured in the crash were Hildebrand and Pippa Mann. Both will remain in the hospital overnight.

    IndyCar said Mann was being treated for a burn to her right pinkie finger and will be released Monday morning, and Hildebrand was awake and alert but will be held overnight for further evaluation.

    The accident spoiled what Bernard had hoped would be a showcase event for the struggling IndyCar Series.

    The second-year CEO worked the entire season on turning the finale into a spectacle, and said he'd offer his resignation to the IndyCar board of directors if ABC's broadcast didn't pull a .8 ranking. His goal was to improve upon last year's season finale's horrible television rating and give the series some momentum for what's hoped to be a strong season in 2013 with the introduction of a new car and new manufacturers.

    So Bernard poured everything into Las Vegas, renting the speedway from owner Bruton Smith and agreeing to promote the event himself. He landed enough sponsorship to at least break even on race, and the $5 million challenge bought him an enormous amount of publicity the entire year.

    Bernard got the Las Vegas Strip to close to stage a parade of cars, hosted industry parties and a blackjack tournament all to boost interest in the race. He even got MGM Grand Resorts to offer a pair of tickets to anyone staying this weekend in one of the chain's 14 properties.

    But what was hoped to be a day of celebration quickly turned somber.
    The wreck was very horrible and so sad. They had way too many cars for this type of racing for this track. It is all over on Youtube if you want to watch that.
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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Guest on Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:25 pm

    too many cars? that is nonsense this is racing things like this can happen there is no risk free situations in this sport
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    Jordan Henderchip
     
     

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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Jordan Henderchip on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:33 pm

    I accidently changed the channel this morning while this race was on and literally 10 seconds after I changed the channel the crash started to happen.....

    RIP DAN WHELDON ♥
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    Pippo
     
     

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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Pippo on Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:42 pm

    mauro=beast wrote:too many cars? that is nonsense this is racing things like this can happen there is no risk free situations in this sport

    One of the racers claimed that the track was too dangerous and that there were too many aswell.
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    Keanoo
     
     

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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Keanoo on Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:44 pm

    R.I.P
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    Weather130
     
     

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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Weather130 on Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:17 am

    Pippo Inzaghi wrote:
    mauro=beast wrote:too many cars? that is nonsense this is racing things like this can happen there is no risk free situations in this sport

    One of the racers claimed that the track was too dangerous and that there were too many aswell.

    It also was the first time the IRL series has run in Las Vegas at a track designed for stock car racing and they probably should have never scheduled this race in the first place. It was a sick twist of fate that a promotion that could have won Wheldon a $5 million bonus is most likely the only reason he was in this race. The idea of this bonus was to draw drivers away from this series to get involved in the race but no one was interested. Rather then scrapping the system they gave Wheldon a seat and made him eligable to win the price. Wheldon did not have a ride this season and was originally only going to run the Indianapolis 500 this year.
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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Marvin on Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:30 am

    Just watched it on Youtube now, looked pretty nasty.
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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by Weather130 on Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:35 am

    Here is the crash if you can stomach it and if the embed works; or maybe just a link

    http://youtu.be/Sn08nh7zoto



    If you watch the replay also look at the #15 of Will Power and you notice a wheel coming towards him but misses him, this possibly could have been a double fatal accident. The sport lost a great talent here.
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    JonjoShelvey
     
     

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    Re: Dan Wheldon dies following crash

    Post by JonjoShelvey on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:59 am

    R.I.P Dan Wheldon ♥.

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