Dan Wheldon Dies In IndyCar Accient
Dan Wheldon, 33, one of the most popular drivers in the IndyCar 500 and two-time winner, died on Sunday in what fellow racers are calling one of the worst accidents they've ever seen on the track.
"Without a doubt the worst thing I've ever seen in my racing career," Davey Hamilton, who himself suffered an injury after an accident in 2001, told USA Today about Wheldon's crash. His vehicle, which was part of a 15-car pileup, went airborne, leapt over another car, flipped over, and crashed into a catch fence just outside Turn 2.
Wheldon was immediately airlifted to University Medical Center, where he was declared dead to his colleagues about two hours later. The driver's injuries were "unsurvivable," according to IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard.
Actress Ashley Judd's husband, Dario Franchitti, was overcome with emotion about the loss of his friend and fellow driver. "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."
Racer Ryan Briscoe was shell-shocked by the incident. "I've never seen anything like it," he said. "The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something. I mean, there were just pieces of metal and car on first in the middle of the track with no car attached to it and just debris everywhere. It was scary." Danica Patrick echoed the sentiment. "It was like a movie when they're trying to make it as gnarly as possible, she said.
A pileup following the crash also injured championship contender Will Power, J.R. Hildebrand, and Pippa Mann. This marks IndyCar's first fatality since the 2006 death of Paul Dana during a routine warm-up. Five tribute laps were driven after Wheldon's death, to the music of "Danny Boy" and "Amazing Grace," according to CBS News.