Lionheart: the career of Dan Wheldon in photos
By Andy Darley
Friday, October 21st, 2011
Dan Wheldon was marked for greatness right from the start, when as a child he battled the young Anthony Davidson and Jenson Button across the karting circuits of the UK.
Of the trio, Wheldon was the only one never to race a Formula One car – but that had much to do with his success in America. By the time F1 came knocking, he was already so deeply embedded in the US open wheel scene that he was happy to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
His 2005 IndyCar Series championship was not repeated – he lost the following year on a tie-break, having matched Sam Hornish Jr for points but won fewer races.
He did, however, pick up a second victory in the Indianapolis 500, his 2005 win being topped by the astonishing finale to this year’s race. Wheldon, without a full-season contract, took part as a one-off entry for Bryan Herta’s fledgling IndyCar team and won the race on the final corner when JR Hildebrand crashed.
Fun-loving, handsome, tireless with fans, hard working with sponsors such as the American National Guard and quietly committed to good causes such as Alzheimer research and children’s hospitals, Wheldon had become one of the biggest stars in American open wheel racing.
A new deal to race in 2012 for Andretti in a car that he had helped develop and test, a joyful personal life as a husband and father and a burgeoning reputation as a broadcaster all suggested his future would be as bright as his career to date.
Instead, all that remains is memories.