Dan Wheldon (partially lost onboard footage of fatal IndyCar crash; 2011)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its discussion of a fatal motor racing accident.


Dan Wheldon.

Status: Partially Lost

On 16th October 2011, during lap 12 of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a multicar crash occurred as the field attempted to negotiate Turn 1. Among those involved in the accident was Dan Wheldon, who drove up Charlie Kimball's car and became airborne. He hit the catch fence cockpit-first, with his head making contact with one of its poles. The impact resulted in him suffering fatal head injuries. While various clips of the crash are publicly available, some of the on-board footage has been withheld from public viewing.


Heading into the race, Wheldon qualified 29th out of 34 runners, with a speed of 218.410 mph.[1] Unsatisfied with his qualifying performance, Wheldon opted to participate in the $5 million challenge, which tasked a driver to start at the back of the field and win the event.[2][3] Before the event began, ABC Sports interviewed Wheldon, asking him whether he felt he could indeed win the event and the $5 million.[3] Wheldon responded that although the competition was intense, he would not have participated in the challenge if he believed he had no chance of winning.[3]

The Crash

On lap 12, Wheldon's teammate Wade Cunningham clipped James Hinchcliffe, before also crashing into J.R. Hildebrand.[4] He also ended up collecting Jay Howard and Townsend Bell, which in turn caused another pile-up as Vitor Meira lost control in an attempt to avoid the carnage, with Charlie Kimball and E.J. Viso crashing into him.[4] Tomas Scheckter was able to slow down on the outside, but this resulted in Paul Tracy rear-ending him, with Pippa Mann, who was trying to avoid a crash with Alex Lloyd, smashing over the top of Scheckter's car.[2] Will Power meanwhile could not avoid Lloyd, slamming over the back of the latter's car and striking the SAFER barrier, a front tyre detaching and nearly hitting Power's head.[2][4]

Wheldon was approaching the scene at 224 mph.[5] He desperately attempted to slow down, but ultimately collided with the rear of Kimball's car, causing his to become airborne.[5][2][4] As it did, the car struck a catch fence cockpit-first, leaving Wheldon's head with no protection from one of the fence's poles.[5][2][3] The wrecked car was sliced apart by the collision and ended up slowly hitting a SAFER barrier.[5]

Following the accident, Hildebrand, Mann, and Power were all hospitalised, with Hildebrand and Mann being kept overnight for their injuries, Mann notably suffering a burn to her right pinkie finger.[2] Wheldon however suffered blunt force trauma to his head caused by two collisions, which ultimately led to him being declared dead on arrival at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, aged 33.[2][5][3] A two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Wheldon was regarded as a popular English driver, and also one of open-wheel racing's star drivers of the 2000s.[6][7] Since Wheldon's fatal accident, IndyCar has not returned to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, pending an evaluation on whether the sport can safely be run on banked ovals.[8]


The fatal crash was televised live by ABC.[3] However, while it did showcase on-board footage of Wheldon leading up to the crash, it decided to cut away to an outside view of the multi car crash.[9] However, the full onboard coverage was available as part of a livestream shown on Indycar Mobile, exclusive to Verizon subscribers.[9] Since then, the full footage has been withheld from public viewing.[9]

Nevertheless, the Canadian documentary show Nerve Center, which coincidentally was present at the event filming an episode dedicated towards IndyCar, requested access to the on-board footage, which was granted by IndyCar.[10][9] In the episode, the onboard clip carries on until freezing once Wheldon hits Kimball, at which point the episode cuts away to a different angle of the crash.[9] Hence, the full video is likely to remain withheld from public viewing.[9]



Wheldon's interview before the start of the event.

Brock Beard video regarding Wheldon's final race.

nascarman History video detailing the factors that led to the fatal crash.

See Also

External Link