16 October, 2011

Indycar to be asessed as young star killed in pile-up

HORROR CRASH:  English driver Dan Wheldon dies
            Dan Wheldon, who moved to the United States from his native England with hopes of winning the Indianapolis 500 and went on to prevail at his sport's most famed race twice, died on Sunday evening after a massive, fiery wreck at the Las Vegas Indy 300. 
            The 33-year-old, who won the Indy 500 for the second time this May, won 16 times in his IndyCar career and was the series champion in 2005.  He was airlifted from the Las Vegas track after the horiffic crash and taken to a nearby hospital, but was dead on arrival, becoming the first Indycar drive to die in a crash since 30 year old Paul Dana back in 2006.            
Drivers crashed at 225mph on perilous circuit

            As word spread of Wheldon's fatal injuries;  other drivers were visibly upset.  Ashley Judd, wife of Indycar champion Dario Frachitti was seen in tears at trackside.  The race was cancelled soon after word had spread with the drivers leaving the track. 
            Drivers returned shortly afterwards to undertake a five-lap tribute drive with many drivers openly in tears.  When drivers returned to the track, Wheldon's #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.
Dan Wheldon en route to Las Vegas University Hospital
            The race was only minutes old when Wheldon, who started at the back of the 34-car field and was in position for a US$5 million payday if he could have won the race, was one of 15 cars involved in a wreck that started when two cars touched tyres.  Wheldon's car flipped over a safety barrier and into what is called the "catch fence" above the SAFER barrier before bursting into flames.  Rescue workers were at the scene quickly to out the flames, exctract him from the car and airlift him to nearby Las Vegas University Hospital with injuries described as "unsurvivable" from a tangle resulting initially from two cars' tyres touching at over 22o miles per hour.
Ashley Judd reacts to news of driver's death
            Wheldon is survived by a wife and two young children.  In 2010; Wheldon released a photo book called  "Lionheart"  detailing his racing and personal life.  "There's a lot of my wedding in there," Wheldon said. "I wanted there to be a lot of photos of my wife. She was the most beautiful bride on her wedding day the world had ever seen." 
Dan Wheldon: 1978 - 2011 R.I.P.

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