The Motor Sports Association has praised Dan Wheldon as 'one of the finest British drivers of his generation' after the 33-year-old was killed in an accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wheldon suffered fatal injuries when his car was launched airborne and slammed into the catch fencing following a multi-car collision in the early stages of the IndyCar Series finale, with medics unable to prevent the Briton from succumbing to his injuries.

"Dan was considered one of the finest British racing drivers of his generation, thanks to his 2005 IndyCar Series title and his pair of Indy 500 victories," MSA chief executive Colin Hilton said. "On behalf of the British motor sport community I would like to send my sincere condolences to Dan's family, friends and legions of fans at this difficult time."

Wheldon began his career in British cadet karting in the late 1980s and went on to win eight national titles, including the 1993 MSA British Junior Kart Championship. He took his first steps into car racing in Formula Vauxhall Junior and Formula Ford, before heading to the US in 1999 and dominating the F2000 National Championship.

The following year he finished second in the Toyota Atlantic series, and was runner-up in the 2001 Indy Lights Championship.

Wheldon became a full-time IndyCar Series driver in 2003, and two years later secured his maiden victory in the world famous Indianapolis 500 en route to the championship title. He won the Indy 500 for a second time earlier this year in his first race start of the season.