The darkest day in IndyCar took place one year ago today. When we lost Dan in Las Vegas, the world became a lesser place. Perhaps Chip Ganassi said it best when he said “A little bit of everybody in IndyCar racing died today.”
It wasn’t just the IndyCar community. It wasn’t even the entire Motorsports family. Shockwaves of Dan’s passing were felt all around the world, in all walks of life. It was on the minds of everyone associated with racing, as well as everyone in Dan’s home land of England. Not a day has gone by where he hasn’t been on our minds.
Yes, Dan was an incredible driver, having won two Indianapolis 500 races, and the 2005 Series Championship. Everyone knows though, that he was much more than that. As great of a driver as he was, he was an even better person. He was everybody’s friend, a true family man, and still had an amazing future ahead of him, both on and off the track.
While October 16 will understandably be a dark day in IndyCar history, we can still associate it with a great memory of Dan. October 16, 2005 was the day he won his IndyCar Championship. It was the final race of the season, at Fontana. Dan won six races that year, including his first Indy 500.
If there is one thing we know, it’s that Dan would want us to think of him in a positive way on this day. Instead of re-living the accident at Las Vegas, we should focus on the excitement, passion, and unbelievable moments he provided us during his incredible racing career.
When you think about Dan today, don’t think about Las Vegas. Think about him rolling around on the bricks at IMS after his improbable win this past year. Think about all of the practical jokes he pulled on Dario and Tony. Think about his gigantic heart, fun-loving personality, and his white-as-snow smile. Think of the Champion as the way we always saw him.
We all still miss him, but it’s important that we celebrate the life of Dan Wheldon, especially today.