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Old 17th October 2011, 07:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Motor Racing: Wheldon killed in massive IndyCar crash

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...159831/1/.html

LAS VEGAS, Nevada: English racing driver Dan Wheldon was killed in a massive crash at the Las Vegas 300 IndyCar series finale on Sunday.

Wheldon, 33, winner of the famed Indianapolis 500 in May, died from injuries he received after his car was sent airborne over another car and clipped the catch fencing during the 15-car wreck.

Several cars were sent flying while others careered down the track in flames.

"IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries," IndyCar chief executive Randy Bernard said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today."

Wheldon's fellow drivers had been informed of his death shortly before Bernard made his public announcement.

"IndyCar, its drivers and owners, have decided to end the race. In honour of Dan Wheldon, the drivers have decided to do a five-lap salute in his honour," Bernard said.

The crash coming out of Turn 2 of the 1.5 mile Las Vegas oval on the 12th lap of the race left Townsend Bell's car upside down and smoking cars and debris strewn around the track.

"I've never seen such a mess in my entire career on the race track," said Danica Patrick, who was in her final race as a fulltime IndyCar driver before heading to NASCAR stock car racing.

Added Canadian driver Paul Tracy: "Just a horrendous accident."

Tracy had reported that a medical team was frantically attending Wheldon before the driver was airlifted to hospital.

The official confirmation of his death came some two hours after the race was stopped.

Despite two Indianapolis 500 triumphs and his 2005 series title, Wheldon hasn't been able to secure a full-time IndyCar ride, so he was racing from the back of the field in pursuit of a $5 million prize offered by IndyCar to a non-series driver who could win the finale.

The crash ended Australian Will Power's bid to overtake Dario Franchitti and claim the series title.

Power sat stunned in his car for some time and was later sent to hospital to be checked out because of back pain.

Scotland's Franchitti, who secured his third straight series crown and fourth overall after Power was ruled out, could be seen fighting for composure in his cockpit as the drivers formed up for the tribute laps.

"I could see within five laps people were starting to do crazy stuff," Franchitti said.

"I love hard racing but that to me is not really what it's about. You saw what happened, one small mistake from somebody ...."

There were 34 cars entered in the season finale - one more entry than at the Indianapolis 500 at the bigger Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Drivers had voiced concern about the high speeds being reached at Las Vegas, where they were close to 225 miles per hour in practice this week.

"I'll tell you, I've never seen anything like it," Ryan Briscoe said of the sight of burning cars spinning on the track and sailing through the air.

"The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something. I mean, there were just pieces of metal and car on fire in the middle of the track with no car attached to it and just debris everywhere."

- AFP/de

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