Dan Wheldon, who won the Indianapolis 500 on its 100th anniversary in May, died in a horrific 15-car crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday which left the motor sports world in a state of shock.
The 33-year-old IndyCar driver was involved in a multi-car accident, 13 laps into the Las Vegas Indy 300, which sent his vehicle flying and left a massive, fiery wreckage and debris across the track.
Wheldon's car flew over another and caught part of the catch fence just past the apex of turn two. The incident left Townsend Bell's car upside down and smouldering cars strewn along the track.
Wheldon, who lived in St Petersburg, Fla., was flown by helicopter to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas for treatment but he succumbed to injuries and his death was announced two hours later. IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries, IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard said in a statement. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today, Bernard added.
After winning eight British national titles in karting and then finishing third in the 1998 Formula Ford championship in Britain, Wheldon moved to the U.S. in pursuit of better opportunities. Wheldon leaves behind his wife Susie and their two young sons.
The race was canceled and the drivers returned later for a moving and tearful five-lap tribute. A popular figure, Wheldon was the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion and he also won the Indy 500 race in 2011.
Crew lined up along the pit lane and fans stood silently in the stands as the other drivers paid tribute to the popular Wheldon.