Dan Wheldon, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner, died Sunday in a fiery crash on Lap 13 of the IndyCar race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a 15-car pileup. The 33-year-old racer was a two-time Indy winner. Three other drivers were also injured, including championship contender Will Power.
J.R. Hildebrand and Pippa Mann were also injured in the crash and are being kept in hospital overnight for treatment and evaluation. Wheldon's autopsy is planned for Monday, according to The Associated Press.
Officials called off the race, but many divers did a five-lap tribute to Wheldon around the 1.5-mile oval.
Wheldon was reportedly airlifted from the track to University Medical Center and his colleagues learned that he was dead two hours later.
IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard made an official announcement of Wheldon's death, but he didn't comment further.
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.
Wheldon started the race at the back of the 34-car field and was in for a $5 million payday if he had won, according to The Associated Press. However, he couldn't steer clear of a wreck that started when two cars rubbed tires. Several cars burst into flames seconds later, covering the track with debris.
One minute you're joking around at driver intros. The next, Dan's gone, said driver Dario Franchitti, whose wife, actress Ashley Judd, had to bring him a box of tissues. I lost, we lost, a good friend. Everybody in the IndyCar series considered him a friend. He was such a good guy. He was a charmer.
The last fatal Indy Car crash was in 2006 when Paul Dana was killed at Homestead during a crash in a morning warmup, The AP reported.
Watch the shocking video below:
Wheldon's Indy 500 Win: