A dark day for motor racing

Clive Wheldon, middle, the father of Dan making a statement with Dans brothers Austin, 26, left, and Ashley, 30, right

Clive Wheldon, middle, the father of Dan making a statement with Dans brothers Austin, 26, left, and Ashley, 30, right

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THE village of Emberton is mourning its brightest star Dan Wheldon who was tragically killed racing in Indycar’s season finale in Las Vegas.

The popular driver was involved in a horror crash which eliminated 15 cars racing at 225 mph around the tight oval circuit last Sunday.

<<enter caption here>>  on October 14, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

<<enter caption here>> on October 14, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wheldon’s car collided with another, launching him into the air, colliding with the catch-fenching before sliding back down the track in flames.

He was airlifted to hospital, but died of his injuries later that afternoon.

While his death hit motorsport industry hard, it was felt just as hard back at home, where he wasn’t the two-time Indy 500 winner or 2005 champion – just Daniel from Emberton.

Tragically, Dan leaves behind his wife Susie and two young sons Oliver and Sebastian who were at his bedside on Sunday.

The 33-year-old’s father Clive paid tribute to his son on behalf of himself and his wife Sue, outside their home on Monday evening.

He said: “The family would like to thank everybody for their overwhelming sympathy in such a difficult time.

“Daniel was born to be a racer and yesterday he left us doing what he loved, he was true gentleman and champion on and off the track.

“He was a devoted son to Sue and myself, loving husband to his wife Susie and a loving father to his children Oliver and Sebastian.

“Words cannot describe how much our family will miss him. He touched so many and the world is a better place for him having been in it.

“We want to thank everyone for allowing us time to grieve in private.”

Jon Adrienssens, landlord at the Bell and Bear in Emberton, had put on a special screening of the race, knowing that Dan was taking part.

He said the accident has affected everyone in the village.

“We watched the race here. We had a private party for people in the village on Sunday night,” said Jon. “We were watching when the crash happened. It was just really shocking. We’d all got together to watch him win the Indy 500 and it was the same kind of excitement before the race with everyone saying, ‘Do you think he’ll win again’.

“So you can imagine it was genuinely shocking watching what happened. Everyone’s really cut up. Even the milkman going round this morning was just really sad.

“The village was very proud of him. He had a life of his own in America, but we all knew what he was doing and we followed him and supported him all the way. You’ll find more IndyCar fans in this village than the whole county.”

A memorial ceremony has been organised to remember Dan at All Saints Church in Emberton. It will be open for everyone to attend at 1pm on Sunday, November 6.

Elsewhere, MK Dons are planning to hold a minute’s applause for Dan at their home game against Scunthorpe on Saturday.