The Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race, set to take place at Daytona Milton Keynes next Monday [5 December], has received overwhelming support from both fans and the stars of international motorsport alike, with 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button leading a 'who's who' of racing's biggest names due to attend.
Due to the unprecedented outpouring of support for the double Indy 500 winner and IndyCar champion, who lost his life in the final round of the IZOD IndyCar Series at Las Vegas in October, the grid has been stretched to its absolute maximum, with 36 teams of four drivers due to line-up on Monday evening, all wishing to raise funds for the Wheldon family's chosen charity, Alzheimer's Society.
Aptly, Wheldon's father, Clive, and his siblings Austen, Elliott, Ashley and Holly, will all be joining the race, which takes place just ten miles from their hometown of Emberton. They will be joined by an unrivalled gathering of professional drivers, pulled together by Wheldon's close friend, and sportscar ace, Johnny Mowlem, who was visibly affected by the scenes from Las Vegas while commentating on the race for Sky Sports.
As well as McLaren team leader Button, former F1 pilots-turned-commentators Martin Brundle, Anthony Davidson and David Coulthard and others with links to the top flight, including Johnny Herbert, David Brabham, will be in action. Others due to appear on track include Wheldon's Indycar rivals Dario Franchitti, James Jakes, Mike Conway and James Hinchcliffe, and stars of single-seaters, sports and touring cars including Guy Smith, Jonny Kane, Rob Huff, Marino Franchitti, Alex Brundle, Adam Carroll, Chris Buncombe, Richard Dean, Steven Kane, Sam Hancock, Luke Hines, Marc Hynes, Nic Minassian, Jason Plato, James Rossiter, Peter Dumbreck, Richard Lyons, Sam Bird, Duncan Tappy, James Thompson, Tom Sisley, Ollie Hancock and Danny Watts.
Mowlem's event aim is simply to offer the opportunity for those who loved, raced, worked and admired Wheldon to give him a send off he would have been proud of. To ensure that focus firmly remains, he has announced an additional fun element of which Dan would have approved, while generating more valuable funds for Alzheimer's Society. The Cash for Penalties system will mean that any driver, whether professional or public, can pay for penalties to be bestowed on any team - whether by way of buying laps or black flags.
“The response for Dan's memorial kart race has been unbelievable and really touching, from members of the public wanting to race in honour of their hero to professional drivers all too willing to give up their free time for their fallen friend," Mowlem commented, “The Cash for Penalties system is just another way to raise some charity funds while helping to ensure that the racing doesn't get too serious. We are there to remember one of the country's most charismatic and talented champions and I don't want that to be forgotten while we're having fun in Dan's honour.
“The event sold out within just a few hours and, although we increased the teams to Daytona's maximum, it sadly wasn't possible to fulfil everyone's request to race. I can't thank everyone enough for their support. It's going to be a fantastic night and I am so pleased that Clive, Holly, Ashley, Elliott and Austen will be joining us. I hope we can do them - and, of course, Dan - proud.”
Sadly, due to limited spectator capacity at the Milton Keynes venue, only drivers and their guests will be permitted.