October 16, 2011 (F1plus Team).- The motorsport world had a dark day today. Dan Wheldon has been pronounced dead after a multiple collision on Lap 11 of Sunday’s IndyCar Series finale in Las Vegas. The Englishman, aged 33 and winner of this year’s Indianapolis 500, was launched into the air before striking the retaining wall and catch fencing at high speed.
In the multiple accident, which involved 15 competitors and numerous cars catching fire, it is believed Wheldon’s car – which became airborne after high-speed contact with a rival – struck the catch fencing cockpit-first, bearing a tragic resemblance to the incident which took the life of Greg Moore in 1999. Following the initial impact, the destroyed Sam Schmidt Motorsport car slid back down the oval while on fire.
Following a driver meeting in which it was announced that the Emberton, Buckinghamshire driver had lost his life, the race was declared over by Brian Barnhart, the President of IndyCar’s Competition and Operations department.
Team members lined pit road as the drivers completed a five-lap salute and Wheldon’s car number, 77, was displayed at the top of the timing tower.
As part of a challenge in Sunday’s race, which was the championship decider for Will Power and eventual title winner Dario Franchitti, Wheldon started from the back of the grid in an attempt to win five million dollars by winning.
Wheldon was twice a winner of the Indy 500, in 2005 and earlier this year, and was overall IndyCar Champion in 2005. After today’s incident, J.R. Hildebrand, Pippa Mann and Will Power were transported to hospital by road ambulance.
All at GPUpdate.net extend their sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Dan Wheldon: 1978-2011.