Dan Wheldon life and biography

Dan Wheldon picture, image, poster

Dan Wheldon biography

Date of birth : 1978-06-22
Date of death : 2011-10-16
Birthplace : Emberton, Olney, England, United Kingdom
Nationality : British
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2011-10-17
Credited as : racing driver, IndyCar World Championship, Indy 300 Crash

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Daniel Clive "Dan" Wheldon was an English racing driver. He was the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion, and winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and 2011. Wheldon died from injuries shortly after a collision at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on 16 October 2011, at the age of 33.

Six years after Dan Wheldon made his IndyCar Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway for Panther Racing, the team announced today it has reached a multi-year agreement to bring the former Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion back home to the two-time league champions.

“It’s hard to describe the level of excitement and emotions all of us at Panther have knowing that Dan has come back to drive for us,” team Managing Partner and CEO John Barnes said. “I remember watching him drive for the first time in the Indy Lights series years ago, and I knew he was going to be a special talent. Since then he’s become one of the best open-wheel drivers in the world, and for him to make his return to our team at the height of his racing career is a tremendous compliment to our team. I know he’s excited about getting into the No. 4 car for the first time and we’ve got a tremendous future ahead of us.”

Wheldon signed with the team originally in June of 2002 under a testing agreement. It was later the same year, at Chicagoland, that Wheldon made his debut for Panther driving the No. 15 Pennzoil sponsored entry and finished 10th. He also started at Texas Motor Speedway for the team and finished 15th despite not even making a qualification attempt.

“I’m very excited to be joining the entire Panther Racing crew,” Wheldon said. “This is the place where I started my career in 2002 and with the personnel and leadership that John Barnes has put together, I know that we’ll be fighting for outright victories, the Indianapolis 500 title and the league championship. I’m looking forward to when my obligations with my current team have been honored, so I can get with the entire Panther family and start moving towards all of our goals of winning races and championships together. It’s great to be back.”

Wheldon became one of the winningest and most consistent drivers in open-wheel racing during stints with Andretti Green Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing. In 2005, he won both the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series championship during a season in which he won a league-record six races. The following season he won two more races and tied former teammate Hornish for the overall points lead at the end of the year but the title went to Hornish because he had more victories.

On 22 June 2008, his 30th birthday, he took his 15th career victory in the IndyCar Series after winning the 2008 Iowa Corn Indy 250 over Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti. He donated his winnings to help the victims of the recent tornadoes and flooding which had occurred in Iowa.

Wheldon was released from his drive at Ganassi on 2 September 2008. He was replaced by Dario Franchitti; "I have enjoyed these last three seasons with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, but will be moving on to pursue a very exciting opportunity for 2009," Wheldon said. It would later turn out to be a return to former team Panther Racing. Wheldon drove the Panther car to a second place finish in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, the second Indy 500 runner-up finish in a row for the team. However, his strong start to the season faded and Wheldon failed to crack the Top 10 in 7 of the last 8 races of the year. The following year Wheldon again showed strong at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, finishing second at the 2010 Indianapolis 500. This gave Panther its third straight runner-up finish at Indy. This time, Wheldon remained competitive all year, challenging for wins on the oval tracks.

Despite strong showings in the Panther Racing No. 4 car, Wheldon still failed to win a race during his time with the team. This led to his being replaced at Panther Racing by the young American driver (and 2009 Indy Lights champion) J.R. Hildebrand. Wheldon attempted and won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with Bryan Herta Autosport in stunning and ironic fashion after inheriting the lead with metres to go after Hildebrand wrecked going into the final turn trying to get around the decelerating Charlie Kimball with too much velocity, being the first driver in Indy history to win the race by leading a single lap. Wheldon was very emotional after the win, due to not having a ride for the rest of the season and concerning his mother who had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, to whom he partially dedicated his victory. It was Wheldon's first series win in three seasons.

At the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on 16 October 2011, Wheldon was involved in a 15-car accident during lap 11 of the race. He was taken to a local hospital with what were described as "serious injuries" and he died shortly after he got there. He was 33.

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