Dan Wheldon, 33, who racked up 16 wins in a decade-long IndyCar career, was killed in a 15-car pile-up on at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Three other drivers, including championship contender Will Power, were hurt in the pileup during Lap 11.
As the 34-car field moved through the first turn of Lap 11 on the 1.5-mile oval track at speeds of more than 200 mph, Wheldon was running 25th when cars began spinning in front of him.
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 that’s designed to give a bit when cars make contact.
Just seconds before the crash, an onboard camera was broadcasting live from his No. 77 car. The entire pile-up occurred in just seconds.
Wheldon was airlifted from the track to University Medical Center; about two hours later, his colleagues were told of his death by IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, who said Wheldon’s injuries were “unsurvivable.”
Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on the loss of Dan Wheldon:
“For everyone in the Honda family, this is a day of tragedy and incalcuable loss. For us, Dan was more than a driver, he was a member of the Honda family. But most of all, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, wife Susie and two young sons. Dan had a passion for motorsports and a wonderful personality that made him a friend to everyone in the racing community. His talent and dedication were an inspiration to us all. We will miss him terribly, and everyone at Honda extends our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and fans across the world.”
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said in a statement: “IndyCar is sad to announce that Dan Wheldon passed away from unsurvivable injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family.”
IndyCar has not had a fatality since Paul Dana was killed at Homestead in 2006, during a crash in a morning warm-up.