On Sunday, October 17, 2011, two-time Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon age thirty-three, lost his life at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He was caught up in a fifteen-car pileup, flew over a vehicle, and burst into flames as the car crashed into a catch fence. This was the IndyCar’s season ending race. The accident happened just eleven laps into the race. He was airlifted to the University Medical Center where he passed away from un-survivable injuries. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.
Dan Wheldon did not have a race team that he was driving for regularly but was going to sign a contract to drive for Andretti Autosport as a replacement for Danica Patrick next season. He had driven for Andretti Autosport in 2005 when he won the Indy 500 for them. He came from England to the United States in 1999, and had an impressive sixteen wins in his IndyCar career. He was also the series champion in 2005.
He was in the race in Las Vegas because of a promise of five million dollars to any driver that was moonlighting and could win the season finale of the IndyCar season. Dan Wheldon was eligible to claim this prize and if he had won the race, he would have split the money with a fan.
Three other racecar drivers were injured in the crash but their injuries were not life threatening. After hearing of his death, the drivers make a five-lap salute around the track. The rest of the race was cancelled.