IT was an emotional day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday as fans and drivers alike paid tribute to Dan Wheldon.
Last year’s Indy 500 champion Wheldon, from Emberton, was tragically killed later the same year in a crash at Las Vegas and was in the forefront of everyone’s mind throughout the weekend.
Fans were handed pairs of white sunglasses, a Wheldon trademark, to wear on the opening lap and on laps 26 and 98 - the numbers he used when he won the historic race in 2005 and 2011.
Thirty-three DW12 cars – named after Dan Wheldon who helped develop the car last year – lined up on the grid at the start, and it was fitting that three of his best friends were stood on the podium at the end of the race, with fellow Brit and reigning Indycar champion Dario Franchitti crossing the line first to secure his third victory around the Brickyard.
In the winner’s circle, Franchitti donned a pair of white sunglasses, saying: “I want to thank all the fans for saluting our Dan today.
“Everybody up there was a friend of Dan. Everybody loved him.
“What a race. I think D-dub would have been proud of that one.”
Third placed Tony Kanaan also paid tribute to Wheldon. Kanaan, who could not hold off Franchitti and second placed finisher Scott Dixon on the last restart, said: “It was good for Dan, his three best friends fighting for the win.
“Danny, wherever he is right now, I think he’s extremely happy. His three best friends in the top three.”
An emotional Susie Wheldon, Dan’s wife, braved the occasion and joined Franchitti on the traditional celebratory lap around the 2.5 mile oval to wave to and thank the fans after the race.