Dan Wheldon, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and 2011, died Sunday in a 15-car pileup at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 33-year-old British star won IRL IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year in 2003. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons.
Wheldon was one of 15 drivers involved in the fiery crash on Lap 11, which resulted in a red flag. His colleagues decided against continuing the race Sunday, instead doing a five-lap tribute to their fallen friend.
Sadly, many of those drivers who took part in the tribute had concerns about the Las Vegas track prior to the race (via ESPN).
"We all had a bad feeling about this place in particular just because of the high banking and how easy it was to go flat. And if you give us the opportunity, we are drivers and we try to go to the front. We race each other hard because that's what we do," driver Oriol Servia told ESPN. "We knew it could happen, but it's just really sad."
There was an outpouring of remembrance messages about Wheldon on social media and equally as many of support for his wife Susie and their two sons, Sebastian and Oliver.
The fatal crash came in IndyCar's final race of the season and Wheldon could have claimed $5 million with a win. Sadly, the race had seemingly just begun went Wheldon's car flew into the air and he suffered unsurvivable injuries.
It's the first crash to take a driver's life for IndyCar since 2006 when Paul Dana passed away prior to the Miami race. Just like they did following Dana's death, the racing league will surely look into all of its safety protocol prior to next season.
Several other drivers, including JR Hildebrand, Will Power and Pippa Mann, were injured and judging by the video things could have been much worse. All three of the injured competitors are expected to make a full recovery.
IndyCar will now enter its offseason more somberly than it had hoped. When it returns to the track for next season, it will be without one of its brightest stars.
Dan Wheldon will not soon be forgotten.