Dan Wheldon, an English racing driver who grew up near to Milton Keynes lost his life last night in a massive crash at the IndyCar 300 race in Las Vegas. Starting from the back of the pack and ploughing his way through at over 200mph in pursuit of a $5m prize he was one of the last to go into a 15 car pile up. Launched into the air, he ended up hitting a wall and bouncing back across the track. In reality Dan stood little chance of getting out alive.
Although horrible, these sorts of things don’t usually play on my mind, but for some reason this one has. With each passing year it seems that I become more and more aware of my own mortality and, although I love karting, am not sure that I’d be able to do what true racing drivers do, even if I had the talent (which I certainly don’t).
On Saturday I was involved in a Club100 race at Whilton Mill, which is just down the road from Silverstone. Half way through my first stint I came off the final bend, only for someone to come through the side of me which ended with a swift bounce off the tyre wall and then into a pile of wood chippings. It hurt a bit and wasn’t much fun, particularly as I later found out the same guy picked up 3 black flags in the race for doing similar things (insert expletives here). It wasn’t a big smash, but was big enough. I can only imagine what it must have been like in Vegas.
Every interview I’ve read so far just tells of horrific scenes – “Like something out of Terminator”. Drivers involved simply sat in their car afterwards, too shaken to move. So, this is my tribute – written on a train as I go and sit in a nice safe office. A tribute to a sportsman that was known as a thoroughly decent bloke and a great driver. He leaves a wife and two young children. RIP.