Tragedy struck this weekend's Las Vegas Indy 300, as driver Dan Wheldon, 33, died from injuries sustained in a gruesome 15-car wreck just 13 laps into the race. Wheldon's car sailed through the air outside turn two and smashed into a wall.
Yahoo! reports that the other drivers were told of Wheldon's death at a meeting held two hours after the wreck. Some drivers reportedly called the crash the worst they've ever seen. The crash comes after some drivers voiced concerns about the high speeds reached at the Las Vegas circuit, as cars were traveling at up to 225 miles per hour during practice.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard issued a statement after the race saying that IndyCar "is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries." Bernard went on to announce that the race had been stopped, but drivers chose to salute the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner with a five-lap run in his honor.
Wheldon, a 16-time IndyCar race winner, 2003 rookie of the year and two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, including this year's, was among the most skilled drivers in motorsports. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wheldon and his family.
UPDATE: Statement from Honda added after the jump.
Statement from Honda:
Dan Wheldon Fatally Injured at Las Vegas
10/16/2011 - LAS VEGAS, Nevada
Sunday's season-ending IZOD IndyCar Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was cancelled after a multi-car crash on Lap 11 resulted in fatal injuries for two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon.
Wheldon was one of 15 drivers involved in the collision, which took place in Turn Two, after relatively minor contact between two cars set off a large, chain-reaction crash. Running in the middle of the field, Wheldon's car went airborne before making heavy impact with the retaining wall and catch fencing. He was airlifted to University Medical Center, where he succumbed from his injuries.
Wheldon was a mainstay of the Honda IndyCar program from his debut in 2003 with Andretti Green Racing. In 134 IndyCar race starts, he won 16 times, and recorded 93 top-10 results. Wheldon won the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 2005, going on to win the series championship that year, and won the '500' again earlier this year. He also scored Honda's first IndyCar victories at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, winning at the Honda-owned circuit in 2004 and again in 2005.
In addition to his parents and siblings, Weldon is survived by his wife, Susie, and sons Sebastian and Oliver.
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."