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Memorial celebrates Dan Wheldon's life

IndyCar staged a public memorial service to celebrate the life and times of Dan Wheldon on Sunday, which included contributions from Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta.
Friends and colleagues from the world of IndyCar gathered in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon, for a public memorial service at Conseco Fieldhouse to celebrate the life and successes of Dan Wheldon, who had died in a major racing accident in Las Vegas a week before.

The service started with a moment of silence for another motor racing star, MotoGP's Marco Simoncelli, after the news that he has lost his life earlier that day in a terrible accident in Sepang.

The service also included a memorable salute to Wheldon from his three team mates at Andretti-Green Racing in 2005 when he won the IRL championship - Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta, who remained his closest friends on and off the track for the rest of his life.

"At first Dan was pretty much the little brother we didn't want," said Franchitti. "And now we'd do anything to have him back. We'll miss you, DW."

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard was one of the first to take to the stage to deliver a eulogy to Wheldon, the driver he described as "a great champion and personal friend to so many of us.

"We have all been devastated by the terrible accident that took Dan Wheldon's life," he said. "Today we mourn Dan's loss but also celebrate his life. We honour him for who he was. This turnout is a wonderful tribute to Dan and a reminder to all of us that a single life – well lived – can make a difference to so many other lives. Certainly that was true of Dan."

Behind him on the stage were some of the trophies and symbols of success that Wheldon had won during his career in US open-wheel racing including the Borg-Warner Trophy for the Indianapolis 500 champion, but Bernard was quick to point out that "the victories and the accolades, they didn't define him. His strong character, his enthusiastic approach to life and the love of family, friends and fans did.

"There was a reason he was a fan favourite. I would see him go out of his way to shake that serviceman's hand, make a young child smile, do that extra interview or joke with a driver. He loved life and it always showed."

Also on stage was the 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell chassis that Wheldon had been helping to test ahead of its roll-out next season, and which incorporates many new safety features that address some of the factors involved in Wheldon's fatal accident in Vegas. For the show, the chassis - which will be named in Wheldon's memory - was bedecked in a red-and-white Lionheart livery.

Related Pictures

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Fans arriving at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis were able to sign a commemorative banner before the public memorial service. [Photo credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
The 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell chassis that Dan Wheldon had been testing in the weeks before his accident: it will be named in memory of the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion. [Photo credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard addresses the memorial service, surrounded by some of the trophies that Dan Wheldon had won in IndyCar. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta, Dan Wheldon`s Andretti-Green Racing team mates in 2005 when he won the IndyCar championship - showing off the rings he gave them to mark the achievement. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
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T - Unregistered

October 24, 2011 6:38 PM

A fitting and moving tribute to Dan, laughter and tears and great memories. Garth Brooks singing 'the Dance' was so fitting "...I could have missed the pain,but I'd of had to miss the dance". RIP Dan

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