It seems I have to write something like this more often than I want to.
With an anniversary of the passing of a fantastic driver today, and the news of the past week, it seems fitting to write it all again.
I remember walking…and walking…and walking. A 2.5 mile oval is a big place. It was my first time to Mecca.
I wasn’t in Saudi Arabia. I was in Indianapolis for the 2011 Indy 500.
I was walking from turn three to the start finish line to get a photo of the winner. I had shot tons of IndyCar in the past, but I didn’t know what to expect at the biggest race of the year.
I knew I wasn’t going to quite make it to the S/F line, so I decided to go grab a different lens in the media centre. On my way up, I heard the crowd get incredibly loud. Something happened.
As I approached the photo centre door, two ladies came tearing out. Both wearing Dan Wheldon shirts. I was baffled.
Hildebrand stuffed his car in the turn 4 wall on the last lap, ad Wheldon made it past just before the start/finish line. I had no idea.
I made my way to victory lane, and was told Wheldon won it. I didn’t know how. Or where, or on what lap. There was chaos. I immediately got right back into work mode, and just started snapping away.
Dan Wheldon died that day. I was glued to the television, texting people I knew at the track, trying to get information.
He was a driver whom I was lucky enough to photograph each time the series came to Canada for a number of years. He always seemed to have a massive smile, grinning from ear to ear. He was a family man, and a racer’s racer. He took a little team that could, and did.
Wheldon passed away only two years ago. I call them heroes, any driver who steps into a race car and goes for a win.
Motorsport is a community affair. No matter the rivalry on track, or how much you claim to “hate” that driver, we all mourn at losses when it happens.
So let this be the last time for a long time I have to share a story about a hero of old. I wish every driver, mechanic, crew chief, corner work, official and photographer a safe remainder of the 2013 season.
Rest in Peace Maria, Sean, and Dan. Let’s not forget Josh Burton, Jason Leffler, Andrea Mamé and Allan Simonsen. You will not be forgotten.