Tag: auto racing

R.I.P., Dan Wheldon

I wanted to write something on the horrific Indy Car crash that happened in Vegas on Sunday and took the life of Dan Wheldon. One of the responsibilities of authors on blogs is to give regulars a chance to pipe in on things that the author might not be that familiar or interested in. This is one of those posts.

The only racing I follow with even a passing fancy is horse racing. I wrote a post a few months ago on NASCAR and really had to bone up on it since I have never ever been to either a NASCAR or Indy Car event. I understand the appeal, it is just not my cup of tea. But in reading about the crash (I am not going to link to any actual video footage of the crash, there is some spectacular videos over at youtube that do it justice) I started to become interested.

One thing I did not know about Dan was that he had rock star status over in England. Maybe Poosh can flesh that out further, but the guy had a big following.

In the years following his first Indy 500 triumph in 2005 Dan Wheldon was often likened by journalists in his home country to a motor racing version of David Beckham, the UK’s other, rather more widely celebrated, handsome multimillionaire sporting superstar export.

I found a video with his dad speaking about the death, I thought poignant:

An article in WSJ that illuminates a number of risks that were apparently brushed off, for theatrics.

One thing I did not know, from the article:

Media attention focused on a publicity stunt: Mr. Bernard had offered $5 million to any driver who could start in last place and win the race, splitting the money with a fan. Mr. Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, took the challenge.

I wonder if a last place start with the chance of a big payoff at the end caused him to race a bit riskier then he normally would.


In the materials, one driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay, said, “All it takes is one mistake by one driver, and it could be huge consequences. This should be a nail-biter for the fans, and it’s going to be insane for the drivers.”

No doubt that was meant for publicity sake, to juice up the spectator number, but now I bet he wished he could take that all back.

Dale Earnhardt’s tragic death in 2001 precipitated a number of safety features that are now standard fare in NASCAR racing vehicles, but given the dynamics of an Indy Car, the outrageous speeds obtained and the usual crowded (much more than NASCAR) fields, any new modifications are limited. But where the Indianapolis 500 track is 2.5 miles round, this course was only 1.5, and drivers were worried before the race.

So if you are a Indy Car fan, or want to add anything about the crash, the driver, or the future of Indy Car racing, here ya go!

French Racing Hoops

A lot of stuff is going on right now in the world of sports, got something to say about it?

First up, auto racing. I’m not a big fan of NASCAR or Indy car racing, but this weekend, I should have been.

In Charlotte Dale Earnhart Jr. would have given his left (pick your body part) for a half gallon of gas:

At Indy a rookie made a rookie mistake, and just like Dale, where he had the finish line in sight, disaster struck:

Hildebrand, a Bay Area boy, hits the wall at the very last turn:

So Hildebrand, driving flat out, decided to pass Charlie Kimball, in a slower car, on the high side at the fourth turn at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hildebrand hit the “marbles,” bits of tires that settled near the walls, skidded on his worn tires and thudded into the wall with a flash of fire.

A gasp rose from a crowd estimated at 300,000. Hildebrand, the right side of his car mangled, made it to the finish line — but not before Wheldon, a 32-year-old Briton, passed him to win the Indy 500, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

The NBA finals start tomorrow. Experience won over youth in the conference finals. The Bulls and Thunder might be the teams of the future but for now both got exposed for lack of depth and for being woefully unprepared for the big stage. James did promise 5 or 6 titles for Heat, and Dirk (who will do down as the best shooting big man in history) went a long way towards dispelling the theory that he was soft and lacked intensity. I’m rooting for Dallas even though I think Cuban is a putz, and hope it goes 7.


Some interesting goings on at the French Open. Most of the big names went out early on the women’s side (Caroline has got to get herself a real coach, this dad/coach stuff can only take you so far, Richard Williams notwithstanding), but I’m in the, “anybody but Schiavone ” camp, some body check her for PED’s, and make sure you watch it go from penis to cup. Nadal has Soderling next, watch out. Federer will take out Monfils in 3 quick sets, and Novak had a walk over, so he will be tanned, rested and ready. For that “immovable object vs. unstoppable force” scenario to play out, we want Nadal and Djokovic in the final.

I believe we also have something about a Stanley Cup being contested, but I’m a little fuzzy on the details.