Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dan Wheldon 1978-2011

When the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships presented by Honda took the green flag this afternoon, many fans were expecting a great run to the finish.  Many wondered if Will Power would be able to get ahead of Dario Franchitti and win his first IZOD INDYCAR Championship, or if Franchitti would win his 3rd Consecutive title.  That was before a horrific crash on Lap 11.  A crash that would cause the race to be red flagged for over 2 hours.  A crash that would end the life of Dan Wheldon, a Champion and 2-Time Indianapolis 500 Winner.

As the race began, the drivers were making very dicey moves.  On lap 11, a wreck was triggered by this hard racing.  When all was said and done, 15 cars were involved in the wreck.  The race was red flagged at this point, as the track crews worked to clean the track.  All the drivers were taken to the infield care center, and JR Hildebrand, Pippa Mann, and Will Power were taken to University Hospital via an ambulance.  Power was later released, while Hildebrand and Mann were held overnight for evaluation. 

As the race broadcast went on, we were shown pictures of Wheldon's car, and eventually the helicopter taking off to take Wheldon to the University Hospital.  The worst sight was seeing a yellow tarp covering Wheldon's car.  The only other time I'd seen a tarp over a car was in 2001, when we lost Dale Earnhardt.

As the broadcast went on, the tone of the broadcasters got more somber.  We saw images of Danica Patrick crying on camera.  Eventually, officials called the drivers into a meeting to discuss what was going on.  After a red flag delay that lasted about 2 hours, we were told the news that we were dreading; Dan Wheldon had succumbed to injuries sustained in his wreck.  His friends and competitors decided to salute Wheldon by driving a 5 lap tribute.

May Dan Wheldon rest in peace.  My thoughts and prayers are with Wheldon's friends and family.  I'm not sure how to end a blog post like this, but I think Marty Reid of ABC ended today's broadcast the best he could do.  So I'll end this post with his quote.

"Many people ask me why I always sign off 'Till we meet again.'  Because goodbye is always so final.  Goodbye, Dan Wheldon."
-Marty Reid

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