Dan Wheldon – A Tribute
Here at Mini Sport we were shocked to hear about the death of one of Britons most successful racing drivers last weekend, just as many were. He had an amazing career from Karting, all the way through to the IndyCar Series, meeting, impressing and befriending many people on his way. He was a role model to many and no doubt left a great impression on those he met. Mini Sports Super Mighty Mini driver Jonathan Lewis was one of the men who had the pleasure of knowing Dan and has agreed to write a few words for us:
One year my drivers were Andrew Kirkaldy, Autosport Award winner and now Le Manns driver and a young boy called Alberto Jacobsen from Brazil and we thought we would have a great year and we did, only a rival team from Batley, Yorkshire signed a young man from Karting by the name of Dan Wheldon who, during the year, we all got to know and love as he was such a funny, cheeky and great chap as well as being a major threat in the car. It was a classic year as my good freind Martin Donnelley also had a team and he had a brilliant Brazilian called Luciano Burti and between us all we won all the races. During the year I got to know Dan and when he needed advise of his next step I recommended him to my friend and later boss Ralph Firman of Van Diemen who owned and ran the ultra sucsefull works Duckhams Team.
As good as his word Ralph ran Dan and we all went about our jobs running our respective teams, Dan went on to be a great driver in Formula Ford for Ralph, his only bad luck was that a certain young Karter by the name of Jenson Button came along and beat him to the Championship, but still he was fast. Dan’s big problem was he never had the mega bucks to just buy a drive in F3 for the following season, which was the logical next step. I remember talking with Ralph who suggested that maybe Dan could go out to the States and race in the Van Diemen semi works FF2000 team with our American importer John Batos. Surprisingly Dan took the offer and went over to the States. None of us realised at the time that Dan would go on to dominate the racing in America and then become the star he was over there.
To sum it up, I came home from racing the Mini Sport Super Mighty Mini last Sunday, pissed off because I felt I was going to win the race at Rockingham until my fuel pump went, only to sit and watch TV and see Dan’s crash. I am freinds with quite a few of the drivers in that race, from Dario, and Will Power to some of the newer drivers that are still to make ther mark over there such as James Jakes from Leeds and my old girl driver Pippa Mann who also went airbourn in her car. To say that its knocked me for six is an understatement because we all forget how at any moment we can loose somone we know. I hope and pray that we learn from Dans accident like we did from Sennas, and that he will be remembered as a great Champion race car driver and most of all, as a great and fun young man who lit up a room when he was in it.”