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F1 Stars Pay Tribute to Wheldon

British driver killed in 15-car Indy crash

Posted Oct 20, 2011 by Chris White

Dan Wheldon

Tributes have been pouring in from the world of motor sport for British driver Dan Wheldon, who was killed following a huge accident at the Las Vegas Indy 300. The 33-year old was one of 15 drivers caught up in the crash at the second corner of lap 13 in the season ending race.

Wheldon, from Buckinghamshire, began Indy Car racing in 2002 and was series champion in 2005, and added to that achievement with two victories at the Indy 500, coming in 2005 and earlier this year. He didn’t have a permanent drive in this year’s competition but was racing in a bid to win the $5million prize on offer for victory.

The track had come under some scrutiny from drivers and crews for being too small for the size of the field taking part, and those fears were justified when the crash occurred on the oval bowl, with a number of cars coming into contact with each other on turn two, sending several into the air, crashing against the outside wall and fence at speeds of over 200mph.

The race was immediately stopped with the red flags waved due to the debris all over the track and several cars catching fire. Wheldon was air-lifted to hospital, but his death was announced to the other drivers and the race was immediately abandoned. It was the first fatality in the event since Paul Dana was killed back in 2006, and the drivers paid tribute to Wheldon with a five-lap salute.

The Briton had started the race at the back of the grid and had made up ten places in the opening twelve laps prior to the crash, as was his way according to those who had raced with him.

Dario Franchitti, a friend and fellow Indy driver said that Wheldon was “six years old when I first met him. Right now I’m numb and speechless. One minute you’re joking around and the next he’s gone. We’ve put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships but today it doesn’t matter.”

F1 driver Jenson Button recalled Wheldon as a star on the British karting circuit before his move to Indy Car, having “so many good memories of racing with Dan in the 90s, he was a true fighter. We’ve lost a legend in our sport, but also a great guy. My thoughts are with them at thus very difficult time.”

Button’s teammate Lewis Hamilton also paid tribute, saying, “Dan was a race I’d followed throughout my career, as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motor sport ladder in the UK. He was an extremely talented driver and someone that every racing driver looked up to with respect and admiration.”

You can pay your own tributes to Dan Wheldon below, or by going to Twitter @ImagineF1 or Facebook by clicking here.

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