Memorial Held For Driver Dan Wheldon
Funeral services for racing veteran Dan Wheldon were held Saturday in St. Petersburg, Florida, where people gathered to pay tribute to the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. (Getty Images)
Wheldon died in a fiery 15-car wreck at the Las Vegas Indy 300 earlier this week.
Had he won Sunday's race, the Englishman with the ready smile and engaging manner would have earned a $5 million payout.
Instead, he was near the back of the 34-car field when he got mixed up in a crash that featured numerous cars spinning out of control and bursting into flames, spewing smoke and debris.
His funeral service was held at the First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg at 10 a.m., Wheldon's wife said in a statement.
Wheldon, who was born in Emberton, England, lived in St. Petersburg with his wife and two young sons. A fund has been established to help provide for his family.
In lieu of flowers, friends and fans are being asked to donate to the fund or to the Alzheimer's Association, a cause close to the late driver's heart. His mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2009.
NASCAR said it will provide teams at the Talladega Superspeedway this weekend with a B-post decal in honor of Wheldon.
The decal features an image of a knight and the word "Lionheart." Wheldon likened himself to Richard the Lionheart, the 12th-century British warrior king, and often wore the image on the back of his helmets.
"When I first started racing, a lot of the guys said that I raced with a lot of heart, occasionally not my head, but always with a lot of heart, like the way that Richard the Lionheart fought in battle," Wheldon wrote on a sponsor's blog in 2010.
IndyCar has said a public memorial service will be held Sunday at the Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
"Although the last few days have been unbearable for our family, the overwhelming love and support we have received are rays of sunshine during these dark days. The outpouring of sympathy and condolences has been so comforting, and I want to thank everyone for their kind notes, letters, gifts and flowers," his wife, Susie Wheldon, said.