Indy car racing used to be a big deal. Then the powers that be got into a years long feud which basically destroyed fan interest in the sport. It's never recovered. Back in the day of the names Foyt, Unser, Andretti, Rutherford, Mears, and others, the Indy 500 was THE race. NASCAR was pretty much still a southern phenomenon. Over the years, we all know what happened. NASCAR exploded in popularity while the folks involved with CART, Champ, or IRL cars, take your pick, fell off the radar.
A couple days ago, Dan Wheldon, a Brit, died in a horrific crash in Las Vegas at the age of 33. He leaves behind his wife Susie, and two small children. One was 2 years old, and the other just a baby.
Given the fan popularity and TV ratings of various motorsports these days, many in
America may not even remember Wheldon was the reigning champion of this year's Indy 500. He'd also won it in 2005. Whether you're an Indy car fan or not, this is very impressive stuff. You just don't wake up one day and find yourself with the ability to pilot a car capable of going 240 MPH, much less be able to navigate it through heavy traffic for 500 miles, to win a race. The guys that have done this are a special breed. There's a very select few that have accomplished it more than once.
Dan Wheldon was one of them.
Not only is his untimely passing a tragedy in itself, but it's a shame how quickly he'll likely be forgotten. Like Wheldon, Dale Earnhardt died on a racetrack, but that was over a decade ago. People still talk about him to this day. Somehow that doesn't seem fair, but sadly, sports fans and human nature are what they are.
By all accounts, Dan Wheldon was not only one hell of a race car driver, but a class act, both on and off the track. A dashing young Brit, loving husband, and devoted father. He likely had his wedding ring on when he perished.
The sports world and, for that matter, the world in general, needs more people like him in it.
May he Rest In Peace.