Dan Wheldon went into the final IndyCar Series race of the season gunning for a five million dollar top prize. He was attempting to win his second race of the season; as his most previous win in 2011 came at the famed Indianapolis 500 in Indianapolis, Indiana. No one knew that day why rookie driver, J.R. Hildebrand, hit the wall on the final corner of the last lap of the Indy 500; almost as if Wheldon was intended to accomplish one last victory in his unforeseen halting career.
When thirty-four IndyCars rumbled around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada, Sunday afternoon at speeds in excess of 220 MPH, everyone knew something had to give. On lap thirteen, the country was riding aboard Dan Wheldon’s car when smoke was seen ahead. The camera changed to an overhead shot, and Wheldon’s spotter frantically yelled, “Go Low, go low!” A split second later, Wheldon, along with fifteen other drivers, were caught in the melee of a horrific on-track accident. Wheldon flew threw the air and impacted the catch fence in turn two.
The cars came to rest with debris, fire, and cars, littering the track. Townsend Bell climbed out of his flipped machine, only to see that Wheldon was not exiting his. Safety and fire crews rushed to the various cars, but the focus was on Wheldon. He was quickly airlifted to a local hospital. The drivers, fans, media, and world, waited nearly two hours for the confirmation that Dan was hopefully OK. When the news was finally confirmed, it became obvious that a true motorsports hero was lost.
“Many people ask me why I always sign off, ‘Till we meet again’ — because goodbye is always so final. Goodbye, Dan Wheldon…” -Marty Reid