The late Dan Wheldon was respected and loved the world over by fans and colleagues not just for his wit, wisdom and natural flair off-track, but for his competitive spirit and unquenchable thirst to win on it.
As a part-time driver in 2011, Dan was entrusted with the task of testing and providing his invaluable experience and assistance in developing the 2012 Dallara safety cell, the new chassis to be adopted by the Indycar Series from next year.
Ironically, the new car featured a multitude of safety features designed to reduce accident risk and afford great protection to drivers in the event of any incidents. The new safety cell included features such as greater aerodynamic downforce to slow cars, bigger cockpits for better driver protection and bodywork over the rear wheels to prevent cars from becoming airborne as Wheldon’s car did, which led to his fatal head injury.
As a tribute not just to his work with this chassis, but for being everything he was to everybody he encountered, Dallara founder Gianpaolo Dallara has announced that his firm would rename its 2012 chassis in his honour.
“He has been a true champion; not only because of his many victories, but and above everything else, because he has been a true and warm man to all the people he encountered,” he told SPEED.
“All people at Dallara always enjoyed meeting him in Italy and in the USA. We will honor his memory for the years to come by dedicating the Dallara IndyCar 2012 in his name. He deserves that.”
And so say all of us.
[Article text by Matt Lennon; images via LAT]