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Stars that died 2010

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dan Wheldon, British IndyCar driver, died from a racing accident he was 33.

Daniel Clive "Dan"   was a British racing driver from England. He was the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion, and winner of the Indianapolis 500 in both 2005 and 2011. Wheldon died from injuries shortly after a collision at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on 16 October 2011, at the age of 33.

(22 June 1978 – 16 October 2011)

Early life and career

Wheldon, who was born in Emberton, near Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, took up karting at the age of four with funding from his father. He progressed through the junior ranks of motor racing during his school years. Attending Bedford School until he completed his GCSEs at age 16, he frequently took time off to race. During his early career in open wheel racing, he developed a rivalry with Jenson Button before ultimately leaving the United Kingdom to race in America. The reasoning behind the move was that the level of investment needed to fund his racing career in the UK was beyond his family's resources.[1] Moving to the United States in 1999, he spent several years in lower open-wheeled circuits like the U.S. F2000 Championship Series, [2] the Toyota Atlantic series and the Indy Lights series.

IRL IndyCar Series


Dan Wheldon signs autographs for fans following Pole Day qualifications at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007.
In 2002, Wheldon moved up to the IRL IndyCar Series for two events with Panther Racing as teammate to Sam Hornish, Jr.. The following year Wheldon joined Andretti Green Racing, taking the spot of Michael Andretti following his retirement, and collected league Rookie of the Year honors. In 2004, he won his first IRL race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, ultimately finishing as runner-up to teammate Tony Kanaan in the championship with three wins.
He won the 2005 Indianapolis 500, as well as that season's IndyCar Series championship. His six victories in 2005 also broke the record for most victories in one season (under IRL sanction), previously held by Sam Hornish, Jr. with 5. His win at Indy was the first for an Englishman since Graham Hill's victory in 1966. In November 2005, it was announced that he would be driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in the IndyCar Series in 2006. Shortly after his first test with Ganassi, he won the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance sports car race with Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon and Casey Mears.
He began the IndyCar season by beating Hélio Castroneves by 0.0147 seconds at Homestead-Miami, a sombre race due to the earlier death of Paul Dana in a practice session. Wheldon retired at St. Petersburg due to contact with Sam Hornish, Jr. during a caution period. At the end of the 2006 IndyCar season, Wheldon and Hornish were tied for the lead with each driver having 475 points. In the event of a tie, the driver with the most wins for that particular season is declared the champion. Hornish had four wins for the 2006 season to Wheldon's two; therefore Hornish was declared the 2006 IndyCar champion.
During the close season he was offered a place in the BMW Sauber Formula One team, but declined on discovering he would not be assured a regular drive. "I do want to race in F1. When my contract expires with Chip, I'll take a serious look at Formula One."[3]

Wheldon practicing for the 2007 Indianapolis 500.
Commenting in 2007 on the perception of him as 'difficult', Wheldon said "I put everything into my racing, and I expect the same back. If I see people who aren't giving it I'm not afraid to say so but that sometimes comes out a little brash. That could be improved a little bit."[4]
On 22 June 2008, his 30th birthday, Wheldon took his 15th career victory in the IndyCar Series after winning the 2008 Iowa Corn Indy 250 over Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti. He donated his winnings to help the victims of the recent tornadoes and flooding which had occurred in Iowa.[5]
Wheldon was released from his drive at Ganassi on 2 September 2008.[6] He was replaced by Dario Franchitti. "I have enjoyed these last three seasons with Target Chip Ganassi Racing but will be moving on to pursue a very exciting opportunity for 2009," Wheldon said. This would later turn out to be a return to former team Panther Racing.[7] Wheldon drove the Panther car to a second place finish in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, the second Indy 500 runner-up finish in a row for the team. However, his strong start to the season faded and Wheldon failed to crack the Top 10 in 7 of the last 8 races of the year. The following year Wheldon finished second at the 2010 Indianapolis 500. This gave Panther its third straight runner-up finish at Indy. This time, Wheldon remained competitive all year, challenging for wins on the oval tracks.

Wheldon won his second Indianapolis 500 in 2011 in a one-off entry for the Bryan Herta Autosport team.
Despite strong showings in the Panther Racing No. 4 car, Wheldon still failed to win a race during his time with the team. This led to his being replaced at Panther Racing by the young American driver (and 2009 Indy Lights champion) J.R. Hildebrand. Wheldon attempted and won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with Bryan Herta Autosport on the 100th anniversary of the race, soon after JR Hildebrand smashed into the wall on the final lap and slowly slid towards the finish allowing Dan Wheldon to pass, after trying to pass the decelerating Charlie Kimball. Dan Wheldon with the win became the first driver in Indy history to win the race by leading a single lap. While the National Guard team congratulated Wheldon and said they had a good day despite the shocking finish, and while Wheldon was celebrating, he heard Panther Racing the owner of JR Hildebrand's contract, say that Wheldon made an illegal pass on Hildebrand under yellow. IndyCar denied this and said that the caution wasn't thrown until after Wheldon made the pass and crossed the finish line and even if the caution was thrown before the pass Hildebrand's car was wounded and therefore be allowed to pass on the final lap. The finish resembled the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race, the Coca-Cola 600's finish which started a few hours after Indy was completed; (where Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the final stages but ran out of gas on turn 4 on the final lap thus giving second place Kevin Harvick the win.)[8] Wheldon was very emotional after the win, due to his not having a ride for the rest of the season and the news that his mother had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.[9] It was Wheldon's first series win in three seasons.[10]
Over the rest of the 2011 season, Wheldon helped IndyCar and Dallara test the new IndyCar chassis that was to debut in 2012.[11]

Personal life

In 2008, Wheldon married his long-time personal assistant, Susie Behm, originally from Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada.[12] They had two sons, one of whom was born in February 2009, and the other born in March 2011.[13] They lived in St. Petersburg, Florida.[14]

Death


An overhead view of the fatal accident. At the bottom of this picture, Wheldon's car has just left the racing surface and has gone airborne.

The same image as above, cropped to focus on Wheldon's car (the car in mid-air)
At the IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on 16 October 2011, Wheldon was involved in a 15-car accident during lap 11 of the race, in which Wheldon's car flew approximately 325 feet (99 m) into the catch fence with the cockpit area first into a pole lining the track before landing back on the ground.[15] The carnage and ensuing debris field resulted in race officials throwing a red flag almost instantly.[16][17][18] Wheldon was extricated from his car by the Holmatro Safety Team and their Las Vegas-based colleagues and was airlifted to a local hospital with what were described as "unsurvivable injuries."[19] He succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 1:54 PDT.[20] He was 33 years old.[21][22]
The IndyCar officials and drivers determined after vote and input from drivers and team owners that the race would be abandoned, and that a five-lap, three-car–wide formation salute would be held in Wheldon's honour, with his number 77 being displayed alone at the top of the scoring pylon.[18] He had been the only driver participating in Go Daddy's IndyCar Challenge where he and a randomly selected fan, would have been eligible for $2.5 million each if he won the race, starting from last place.[23][24]
An autopsy conducted on 17 October 2011 concluded that Wheldon died of blunt force trauma to the head.[25]
Wheldon's funeral was held on 22 October 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Fellow drivers Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Tony Kanaan attended the funeral, and served as pallbearers along with Wheldon's brothers.[26] IndyCar held a public memorial service for Wheldon a day later at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.[27]
Wheldon was the fifth Indianapolis 500 winner to die in a motorsports accident in the same year as winning the race, and the first multiple-winner to do so. Preceding him were Gaston Chevrolet (1920), Joe Boyer (1924), Ray Keech (1929) and George Robson (1946).[28]

Aftermath

After Wheldon's death, Michael Andretti revealed that Wheldon had officially signed with Andretti Autosport on the morning of 16 October 2011 for a multi-year deal to replace driver Danica Patrick starting in the 2012 season.[29] Andretti Autosport, previously known as Andretti Green Racing, was the team with which Wheldon won the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Drivers' Championship. As a result of the crash IndyCar declared that starting in 2012 they will not race at Las Vegas, for an indefinate time.
On 5 December 2011, a charity race honouring Wheldon was held in Milton Keynes in England.[30] The location of this race was less than 10 miles from where Wheldon was born and raised. The drivers in this race included Dario Franchitti (who took part in the race where Wheldon was killed), Anthony Davidson and Jenson Button.[31] All money earned by this charity race was donated to a charity chosen by Wheldon's family.

Other projects

Dan Wheldon was a guest star in the voice cast for the TV series Hot Wheels Battle Force 5.[32]
On 9 August 2011, Ignite Game Technologies announced that Wheldon would assist the physics development for its online auto racing game, Simraceway. Wheldon commented "It was pretty obvious that Ignite was not looking to build just another racing game, so the opportunity to influence Simraceway's physics directly was pretty appealing."[33] It later emerged Wheldon would also be playing a role in the company’s performance driving center at Infineon Raceway.

Motorsports career results

American open-wheel racing results

(key)

U.S. F2000 National Championship

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Rank Points
1999 Jayhard/Primus Racing United States
PHX
2
United States
LOW1
2
United States
LOW2
1
Canada
MOS1
24
Canada
MOS2
1
United States
MDO1
2
United States
ATL1
26
United States
ATL2
24
Canada
TRR
3
United States
MDO1
1
United States
MDO2
2
United States
PIK
1
United States
SEB1
1
United States
SEB2
1
1st 315

Toyota Atlantic Championship

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Rank Points
2000 PPI Motorsports United States
HMS1
1
United States
HMS2
2
United States
LBH
4
United States
MIL
13
Canada
MTL
3
United States
CLE
6
Canada
TOR
3
Canada
TRR
2
United States
ROA
2
United States
LS
1
United States
GAT
7
United States
HOU
4
2nd 159

Indy Lights

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Rank Points
2001 PacWest Lights Mexico
MTY
5
United States
LBH
2
United States
TXS
10
United States
MIL
3
United States
POR
10
United States
KAN
3
Canada
TOR
7
United States
MDO
2
United States
GAT
1
United States
ATL
1
United States
LS
5
United States
FON
2
2nd 149

IndyCar Series

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Rank Points
2002 Panther Racing United States
HMS
United States
PHX
United States
FON
United States
NZR
United States
INDY
United States
TXS
United States
PPIR
United States
RIR
United States
KAN
United States
NSH
United States
MIS
United States
KTY
United States
STL
United States
CHI
10
United States
TX2
15




36th 35
2003 Andretti Green Racing United States
HMS
United States
PHX
Japan
MOT
7
United States
INDY
19
United States
TXS
20
United States
PPIR
19
United States
RIR
8
United States
KAN
21
United States
NSH
4
United States
MIS
20
United States
STL
5
United States
KTY
8
United States
NZR
7
United States
CHI
4
United States
FON
4
United States
TX2
3



11th 312
2004 Andretti Green Racing United States
HMS
3
United States
PHX
3
Japan
MOT
1
United States
INDY
3
United States
TXS
13
United States
RIR
1
United States
KAN
9
United States
NSH
13
United States
MIL
18
United States
MIS
3
United States
KTY
3
United States
PPIR
3
United States
NZR
1
United States
CHI
4
United States
FON
3
United States
TX2
3



2nd 533
2005 Andretti Green Racing United States
HMS
1
United States
PHX
6
United States
STP
1
Japan
MOT
1
United States
INDY
1
United States
TXS
6
United States
RIR
5
United States
KAN
2
United States
NSH
21
United States
MIL
5
United States
MIS
2
United States
KTY
3
United States
PPIR
1
United States
SNM
18
United States
CHI
1
United States
WGL
5
United States
FON
6


1st 618
2006 Chip Ganassi Racing United States
HMS
1
United States
STP
16
Japan
MOT
2
United States
INDY
4
United States
WGL
15
United States
TXS
3
United States
RIR
9
United States
KAN
2
United States
NSH
2
United States
MIL
8
United States
MIS
3
United States
KTY
4
United States
SNM
6
United States
CHI
1





2nda 475
2007 Chip Ganassi Racing United States
HMS
1
United States
STP
9
Japan
MOT
2
United States
KAN
1
United States
INDY
22
United States
MIL
3
United States
TXS
15
United States
IOW
11
United States
RIR
3
United States
WGL
7
United States
NSH
8
United States
MDO
10
United States
MIS
12
United States
KTY
17
United States
SNM
7
United States
DET
3
United States
CHI
13


4th 466
2008 Chip Ganassi Racing United States
HMS
3
United States
STP
12
Japan
MOT1
4
United States
LBH1
DNP
United States
KAN
1
United States
INDY
12
United States
MIL
4
United States
TXS
4
United States
IOW
1
United States
RIR
4
United States
WGL
24
United States
NSH
2
United States
MDO
17
Canada
EDM
7
United States
KTY
5
United States
SNM
4
United States
DET
20
United States
CHI
6

4th 492
Panther Racing

















Australia
SRF2
11
2009 Panther Racing United States
STP
14
United States
LBH
5
United States
KAN
10
United States
INDY
2
United States
MIL
10
United States
TXS
7
United States
IOW
4
United States
RIR
10
United States
WGL
10
Canada
TOR
14
Canada
EDM
15
United States
KTY
11
United States
MDO
16
United States
SNM
12
United States
CHI
22
Japan
MOT
8
United States
HMS
21


10th 354
2010 Panther Racing Brazil
SAO
5
United States
STP
20
United States
ALA
11
United States
LBH
9
United States
KAN
15
United States
INDY
2
United States
TXS
9
United States
IOW
11
United States
WGL
6
Canada
TOR
10
Canada
EDM
20
United States
MDO
14
United States
SNM
25
United States
CHI
2
United States
KTY
3
Japan
MOT
10
United States
HMS
9


9th 388
2011 BHA with Curb Agajanian
Sam Schmidt Motorsports
United States
STP
United States
ALA
United States
LBH
Brazil
SAO
United States
INDY
1
United States
TXS1
United States
TXS2
United States
MIL
United States
IOW
Canada
TOR
Canada
EDM
United States
MDO
United States
NHM
United States
SNM
United States
BAL
Japan
MOT



28th 75
Sam Schmidt Motorsports















United States
KTY
14
United States
LVS3
Canc

a Wheldon lost the title on the tiebreaker—he won only two races compared to Sam Hornish, Jr.'s four after the two tied on 475 points
1 Run on same day
2 Non-points race
3 Event cancelled after a 15-car incident on Lap 11 involving Wheldon, who would later succumb to injuries sustained in the accident.
Years Teams Races Poles Wins Podiums
(non-win)**
Top 10s
(non-podium)***
Indianapolis 500
wins
Championships
10 5 133 5 16 27 50 2 (2005, 2011) 1 (2005)
** Podium (non-win) indicates 2nd or 3rd place finishes.
*** Top 10s (non-podium) indicates 4th through 10th place finishes.

Indianapolis 500

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team Summary
2003 Dallara Honda 5 19 Andretti Green Racing Wrecked in turn 4, flipped
2004 Dallara Honda 2 3 Andretti Green Racing Running
2005 Dallara Honda 16 1 Andretti Green Racing Running; 157.603 mph
2006 Dallara Honda 3 4 Chip Ganassi Racing Running
2007 Dallara Honda 6 22 Chip Ganassi Racing Crashed on backstretch
2008 Dallara Honda 2 12 Chip Ganassi Racing Running
2009 Dallara Honda 18 2 Panther Racing Running
2010 Dallara Honda 18 2 Panther Racing Running
2011 Dallara Honda 6 1 Bryan Herta Autosport Running; 170.265 mph

Sports car racing

24 Hours of Daytona results

Year Class No Team Car Engine Co-drivers Laps Position Class Pos.
2005 DP 2 United States Howard-Boss Motorsports Crawford Pontiac United Kingdom Dario Franchitti
Venezuela Milka Duno
United Kingdom Marino Franchitti
528 33 DNF 16 DNF
2006 DP 02 United States Target Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI Lexus New Zealand Scott Dixon
United States Casey Mears
734 1 1
2007 DP 02 United States Target Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI Lexus 5.0L V8 New Zealand Scott Dixon
Mexico Memo Rojas
538 41 DNF 21 DNF
2008 DP 02 United States Target Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI Lexus 5.0L V8 New Zealand Scott Dixon
United Kingdom Alex Lloyd
Mexico Salvador Durán
515 44 DNF 18 DNF

Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, Results are overall/class)
Year Team Make Engine Class 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Rank Points
2005 Howard-Boss Motorsports Crawford Pontiac DP DAY
33/16
HOM CAL LAG CMT WAT1 BAR WAT2 DAY2 MDO PHX WAT3 VIR MEX
79th 15
2006 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI Lexus DP DAY
1/1
MEX HOM LBH VIR LAG PHX LRP WAT1 DAY2 BAR WAT2 INF MIL
77th 35
2007 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI Lexus 5.0L V8 DP DAY
41/21
MEX HOM VIR LAG LRP WAT1 MDO DAY2 IOW CGV BAR WAT2 INF MIL 75th 10
2008 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI Lexus 5.0L V8 DP DAY
44/18
HOM MEX VIR LAG LRP WAT MDO DAY

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