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17 October 2011

Two-time Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon perishes in a fiery 15-car pile up

Photos courtesy of Indycar Series and Sam Schmidt Motorsports
 
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On lap 11 of the inaugural IZOD IndyCar World Championships held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October 16, 2011, 15 cars were involved in a terrifying fiery pile up which forced officials to red flag the race. Paul Tracy, Buddy Rice, Alex Lloyd, E.J. Viso, Charlie Kimball, Timas Scheckter, Jay Howard, Wade Cunningham, James Jakes, and Vitor Meira all climbed out of their mangled vehicles relatively unscathed. Will Power, Pippa Mann, and JR Hildebrand, on the other hand, were brought to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. 
 
Sadly, the 200 lap race turned mournful as quickly as it started when IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard announced two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Daniel Clive “Dan” Wheldon from Emberton, England, who was driving the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins race car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, was pronounced dead after succumbing to injuries suffered in the crash.
 
Wheldon was 33 and is survived by his wife Susie, two sons, his parents, Clive and Susie, and three siblings. 
 
After the teams were informed of Wheldon's passing, the drivers went back on track for a five-lap tribute with Wheldon's No. 77 displayed on the scoreboard tower. Hundreds of crew members from each steam stood at attention in honor or Wheldon with the sound of “Danny Boy” and “Amazing Grace” echoing throughout the 2.4 kilometer track. 
 
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Wheldon won the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and 2011. He recorded 16 race victories and the 2005 championship title in his 10 year career in the IndyCar series.
 
"We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and today it doesn't matter," said Dario Franchitti, Wheldon's longtime friend and former teammate.