Race Car Driver Dan Wheldon's Death Rattles Sport

By Jared Bowen

Oct. 19, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 17 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — One of the world's most watched televised sports turned deadly this week when two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died in a 15-car pile up at Las Vegas's Indy 300 on Oct. 16.

The race had barely started when the 33-year old launched into the air and to his death. Wheldon's death left the racing world stunned. It's been at least five years since a driver was killed in a race, yet with speeds close to 200 miles per hour, it's a wonder these types of deadly accidents don't occur more often.

Wheldon's Oct. 16 crash was sudden, horrific and ultimately catastrophic. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard delivered the bad news.

"IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injury," Bernard said.

With the news that Dan Wheldon, the popular English race-car driver had died, drivers did a five-lap salute in his honor.

The fiery multi-car wreck abruptly ended IndyCar's season leaving fellow drivers visibly shaken and spectators mourning. His father in-law called him a great human being and went on to express how shocked his family is.

Sunday's accident was the most high profile race death since Dale Earnhardt's in the Daytona 500 ten years ago and is now prompting concerns about the sport's safety.

"I think it's going to raise that sort of, all who thought it was important to have safety," said former Indy 500 racecar driver Lyn St. James, "but it's even going to raise the bar for everybody to pay more attention about what we can do to continue to make our sport safer. It's always going to be a high-risk, dangerous sport. "

One with deadly consequences that has left a community stunned.



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