- Air Force cadets ‘revolt’ after officials remove biblical verse from whiteboard
- Rep. Lee: Paul Ryan out of touch with urban Americans
- House votes down resolution to force Issa to apologize
- Kremlin blocks opposition websites; Kasparov fears Putin plans ‘something drastic’
- Saving trees? EPA wastes $1.5 million storing unneeded pamphlets in warehouse
- Scott Brown Senate bid in New Hampshire may launch soon
- Jeffrey Corzine, son of ex-N.J. governor, dead at 31
- Australian surfing magazine sorry for calling indigenous surfer ‘apeish’
- Records: Man in Fla. theater shooting also was texting
- The Putin problem: U.S. needs Russian rockets for spy satellites
Two-time Indy 500 winner Wheldon killed in wreck
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be.
On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died when his car got caught up in a 15-car pileup, sailed over another vehicle and smashed into a catch fence at IndyCar’s season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“Things happen in this kind of racing,” said Wade Cunningham, also caught up in the wreck. “It’s so close. Not much room for error. I was near the front of what caused all this, so I’m not thrilled about it. At this point, whose fault it was is kind of immaterial.”
The green flag had barely stopped waving when disaster struck.
Wheldon, driving from the back of the field for a chance at $5 million, was moving through the pack when he drove into a tangle of cars careening off each other in every direction.
Unable to avoid the massive wreck unfolding before him, Wheldon clipped another car and went hurtling through the air, his car bursting into flames as it flew into a fence.
After just 11 laps, the race was over. Two hours later, track officials announced that Wheldon was dead. The Englishman was 33.
“One minute you’re joking around at driver intros and the next, Dan’s gone,” said Dario Franchitti, whose wife, actress Ashley Judd, had to bring him a box of tissues. “I lost, we lost, a good friend. Everybody in the IndyCar series considered him a friend. He was such a good guy. He was a charmer.”
With the speed _ close to 225 mph during practice _ and a crowded 34-car field, a big worry was aggressive driving early in the 200-lap race.
Chaos started when two cars touched tires coming around turn 2 and almost no one had time to react.
Within seconds, several cars burst into flames and debris covered the track nearly halfway up the straightaway. Some points of impact were so devastating workers had to patch holes in the asphalt.
Video replays showed Wheldon’s car turning over as it went airborne and sailed into what’s called the catch fence, which sits over a barrier designed to give a bit when cars make contact. Rescue workers were at Wheldon’s car quickly, some furiously waving for more help to get to the scene.
“It’s unfortunate that early on in the race they’ve got to be racing so close. …,” Team Penske owner Roger Penske said. “You always worry about those at these mile-and-a-halves at the speed and with this many cars.”
Three other drivers, including championship contender Will Power, were hurt in the pileup.
By Bob Dole
The industrious island has proved itself worthy of U.S. inclusion
- F-35 secrets now showing up in Chinas stealth fighter
- FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee
- USS Kidd sent to Indian Ocean after 'indication' of Malaysian jet crash
- Warren Buffett's son to spend $23.7 million in effort to save South African rhinos
- College group's diversity event canceled after excluding white people
- Justice Department refuses info on hundreds of prosecutor misconduct cases
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- MILLER: Law enforcement realizes good people with guns deter crime
- CURL: Calm down, conservatives: Obama's 'Two Ferns' bit was brilliant
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again