Dan Wheldon crashed and died on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during lap 13 at the IndyCar Series finale. But drivers had reportedly been concerned about the high speeds at the track. They were hitting nearly 225 mph during practice, according to The Associated Press.
We all had a bad feeling about this place in particular just because of the high banking and how easy it was to go flat, driver Oriol Servia told The AP. And if you give us the opportunity, we are drivers and we try to go to the front. We race each other hard because that's what we do. We knew if could happen, but it's just really sad.
Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who posted a blog to USA Today before the race, had also expressed concern that he wouldn't be able to get enough speed from his car in the race, which ended in a 15-car pile-up.
So far, things haven't been going very well as we've started our pursuit of the GoDaddy IndyCar Challenge this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but I'm confident in the ability of the guys at Sam Schmidt Motorsports to find the problem and get it fixed. Wheldon noted in the blog. It's actually been a very difficult weekend for us so far. Basically we carried over our problem from Kentucky Speedway, where we just didn't have the speed and never really found it.
In this high-speed, high-adrenaline sport, which can sometimes be fatal, drivers must perform. Their very own competitive nature pushes them to excel at Indy car racing.
Wheldon, 33, is the 2005 series champion from Emberton, England. He was competing in his third IndyCar race of the season and trying to win the race and earn a $5 million bonus. The bonus was part of a league promotion for driver who didn't compete full-time in the series this year. Wheldon was reportedly the only driver to accept the challenge.
Even though he won this year's Indy 500, Wheldon couldn't put together a full-time ride this season.
ESPN reported that Wheldon managed to land the race because of IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard's promise of $5 million to any moonlighting driver who won the IndyCar season finale at Vegas. There were no takers, but Bernard didn't scrap the idea before Wheldon was declared eligible for the prize.
This year's Indy 500 was the second time Wheldon had won the event.
I've been watching these guys work their tails off trying to fix this problem, and I believe they'll turn it around before Sunday's race, Wheldon blogged about the problem before the race. As you know, the Challenge is a rather unique promotion. I'll start 34th in a 34-car field in Sunday's Izod IndyCar World Championships presented by Honda. If I win the race, I'll split a $5 million prize with Ann Babenco of High Bridge, N.J., who was chosen at random.
In Sunday's crash Wheldon's car was reportedly travelling at more than 220 miles per hour into a turn, before climbing the back of racer Paul Tracy's vehicle and bursting into flames. it then flipped over and slammed into a crash-fence above the track's retaining wall.
Wheldon was airlifted from the track to University Medical Center.
Bernard officially announced Wheldon's death, but didn't comment further. Three others were injured in the horrific crash. They were Will Power, J.R. Hildebrand and Pippa Mann.
IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries, Bernard said. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. IndyCar, its drivers and owners, have decided to end the race. In honor of Dan Wheldon, the drivers have decided to do a five-lap salute to in his honor.
When asked about speed after the crash, Wheldon's former boss Chip Ganassi told the media, There'll be plenty of time in the offseason to talk about that. Now is not the time to talk about that.
Wheldon's Indy 500 Win: