Lionheart: the career of Dan Wheldon in photos

By Andy Darley

CalendarFriday, 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.

Found another great pic. A young Dan Wheldon (with Jenson) si... on Twitpic

A young Dan Wheldon (with Jenson Button, standing but truncated) sits on Anthony Davidson's wheel at the 1990 British cadet championsips. Photo from Davidson on Twitpic.com - click through to see full version

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.

Dan Wheldon, 1978 – 2011

The young Dan Wheldon

The young Dan Wheldon in the 1996 Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship, with an earlier version of the famous smile


In the 1997 Formula Ford Championship at Brands Hatch

In the 1997 Formula Ford Championship at Brands Hatch


September 2005 brought an IndyCar Series victory in Chicago

September 2005 brought an IndyCar Series victory in Chicago


By the end of 2005 the IndyCar Series championship trophy and the Borg-Warner were both his

By the end of 2005 the IndyCar Series championship trophy and the Borg-Warner were both his


Posing at Daytona for Flickr user The359: one of the first photos ever used on BritsOnPole.com

Posing at Daytona for Flickr user The359: one of the first photos ever used on BritsOnPole.com


In a thoughtful mood at Indy in 2008

In a thoughtful mood at Indy in 2008


Victory in Iowa for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 2008

Victory in Iowa for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 2008


Each year Wheldon held a helmet design contest for children in hospital: here's the 2008 victor's work

Each year Wheldon held a helmet design contest for children in hospital: here's the 2008 victor's work


A rainy day in Toronto during the 2009 season

A rainy day in Toronto during the 2009 season


Wheldon always had time for fans of the sport, and they loved him for it

Wheldon always had time for fans of the sport, and they loved him for it


The four champions

The four Indy 500 champions: Franchitti, Wheldon, Castroneves and Dixon before the 2010 race


The unlikely victor

The unlikely victor: Wheldon's 2011 Indy 500 victory was straight out of a storybook


Richard the Lionheart was a constant fixture on Wheldon's ever-changing helmets

Richard the Lionheart was a constant fixture on Wheldon's ever-changing helmets


The scoring pylon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway pays lonely tribute

The scoring pylon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway pays lonely tribute


The pitiless Nevada sun beats down as spectators and race crews watch 19 IndyCars salute Dan Wheldon

The pitiless Nevada sun beats down as spectators and race crews watch 19 IndyCars salute Dan Wheldon


Fans gather to lay tributes beneath the memorial banner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Fans gather to lay tributes beneath the memorial banner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway


"Rest in peace, we love you Dan."

"Rest in peace, we love you Dan."

One response to “Lionheart: the career of Dan Wheldon in photos”:

  1. Bobby Says:

    November 4th, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    One of the more interesting tributes we saw came the next week. Typically, when NASCAR has cars clear inspection, a typical windscreen sticker is applied to the car to indicate approval. At Talladega (AL), near Leeds (home of the IndyCar GP of Alabama, where the spring races are combined for Alabama Speedweeks), NASCAR had a fairly large Richard the Lionheart sticker applied near the B-pillar for all cars that cleared inspection. Jimmie Johnson drove a special helmet with face shield that carried the Lionheart sticker. Ironically, the Lionheart sticker may have been the most poignant sticker in tribute to Wheldon. Seeing the difference in tribute stickers was shown in NASCAR, V8 Supercar, and F1 — the Lionheart was the simplest and the true symbol of the fallen champion.

 
  • McLaren eshop

    McLaren store

  • F1 gear (and more) at OnPole.com

    2012 F1 Merchandise from OnPole.com