Monday, 17 October 2011

RIP Dan Wheldon

Dan Wheldon was just 33 when he tragically died in the final IndyCar race of the season in Las Vegas. Scotland’s Dario Franchitti won a 3rd successive title but he would swap that in a heartbeat to have friend and fellow driver Dan Wheldon unharmed.

The accident which cost the Briton his life was horrific. It was evident from the moment it happened that someone must have been seriously hurt. Unfortunately there was no lucky escape from this.

There were some striking coincidences around the race. It was the final race in the old style cars – next year the cars will be safer to avoid incidents like we saw. The man who has been testing the new car? – Dan Wheldon. Had we not had an accident, if Dan had won the race he would have earned a $5m prize – and would give half of this away to a lucky fan. Before the race the ABC commentary team had been speaking to the man from Buckinghamshire. He was saying what a good way to end the season this could be. Finally, as the crash unfolded we were riding on board with Dan Wheldon. Had we stayed on board a few more seconds we could have witnessed the horror of it all.

Questions will inevitable be asked regarding the safety of the sport. 220mph, 34 cars, a 1.5m circuit combined with the nature of oval racing means a severe accident is always a strong possibility. The possibility of canopies will also be raised again – could it have saved Dan’s life?

The human element of this is also immensely sad. Just 33 years old with 2 sons, Sebastian (2) and Oliver (7 months). The 2005 champion and 2 time winner of the Indy 500 will be sorely missed.

A very sad day for motorsport.

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