Tributes for 'nice guy' Dan Wheldon

Mon, 17 Oct 10:20:00 2011

The world of motorsport has been paying tribute to British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon who died from injuries sustained in a horrific crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

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Formula One driver Jenson Button: "Just woken up to the most horrific news. Dan Wheldon RIP... I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90's, a true fighter.”

Fellow British IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti: "Right now I'm numb and speechless. One minute you're joking around in driver intros and the next he's gone. He was six-years-old when I first met him. He was this little kid and the next thing you know he was my team-mate. We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and today it doesn't matter."

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton: “This is an extremely sad day. Dan was a racer I’d followed throughout my career, as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motorsport ladder in the UK. He was an extremely talented driver. As a British guy, who not only went over to the States but who twice won the Indy500, he was an inspirational guy, and someone that every racing driver looked up to with respect and admiration. This is a tragic loss at such a young age. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”

Sam Schmidt, owner of Wheldon's No. 77 Indy-car: "Dan Wheldon was a tremendous competitor, a great racer and an even better person. It was an honor to have him be a part of our team. All of us at Sam Schmidt Motorsports are deeply saddened by his passing. On behalf of everyone at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, our prayers go out to all of his family, especially his wife, Susie, and their two children."

Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello: "Just got out from the plane and got the terrible news about the death of our friend Dan Wheldon... Will always remember the great times we had at karting in Brazil my friend. Rest in peace."

Fellow IndyCar driver Danica Patrick: "There are no words for today. Myself and so many others are devastated. I pray for Suzi and the kids that God will give them strength."

Fellow IndyCar driver Oriol Servia: "This is incredibly sad. We all know this is part of the sport. Cars are getting safer, tracks are getting safer so fortunately it hasn't happened in a long time. We all had a bad feeling about this place in particular just because of the high banking and how easy it was to go flat and if you give us the opportunity, we are drivers and we try to go to the front - we race each other hard because that's what we do. We knew it could happen but it's just really sad."

Fellow IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe: "It's a black day for the sport. We came in here hoping for a good season finale and ended up losing a very close friend and a very good racing driver."

Fellow IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves: "It's so hard to speak these days. Dan was a nice guy, my God! A guy like that we feel satisfaction in knowing. He had a son at the age of Mikaella and another baby at a few months. So we are all devastated, with a heavy heart. It's a huge loss. Let us pray that his soul is received with all the glories of the Kingdom of God and sustain his family."

Bill Foster, mayor of St.Petersburg in Florida where Wheldon had his residence: "It's a tremendous blow for this sport and his adopted city. All I can think about is his wife and children at this time. As a community, we're just going to lift his family up and make sure they're supported. He was a member of this community. He was very active in the Sports Alliance. He loved St. Pete. This was his home. We adopted him as our favourite racing son".

Six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson: "My thoughts and prayers go out to the Wheldon family... My heart hurts for all of the IRL community."


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