A Tribute To Dan Wheldon, One Year Later

It was the ultimate Wheldon moment, a combination of glowing personality along with a keen knowledge for what it took to produce good and effective racing. His devotion to open wheel racing in America could be seen in his enthusiasm for the new car along with his underlying hints that he missed being in a car full time.

Call it the ultimate Wheldon moment, known by those who raced with him and new him and obvious to those who share an occasional interview.

For me and many others that day, it was the last with Wheldon. A flying crash into the catch fence ended an Izod IndyCar career that was ready to have a second life with Andretti Autosport, who eyed Wheldon for the soon-to-be-vacated Danica Patrick seat.

Its a goodbye to one of the few who saw American open wheel racing as a destination not a step. Gone is the work Wheldon did in FF2000 Championship Series, Toyota Atlantic Series and the Indy Lights Series to reach his ultimate goal of the top circuit.

Gone is an ambassador for the next era of IndyCar set to begin with a machine he helped to shape. For Indianapolis 500 buffs, there is an entire fall, winter, and spring without the race's defending champion.

For wife Susie and two children, gone is a family man.

In the end for me, its a loss of someone who had the same belief as I in putting in the time, someone I looked up to as an example of how to convey a confident and positive outlook on life. Someone who found a way to improve himself even after reaching the pinnacle of his chosen line of work.

Victories on the track will serve as a reminder of what he meant and still means to open wheel racing. Mine's much easier, straight to the point.

A wink and a smile on a windy day at the speedway. A gesture that lives even when someone dies.


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