IRL: Dan Wheldon Rookie of the Year award

England's Dan Wheldon was awarded top 'rookie' honours on Saturday evening, 25 October, during the 2003 Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at the World Showplace at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA. 25-year old Dan ...

England's Dan Wheldon was awarded top 'rookie' honours on Saturday evening, 25 October, during the 2003 Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at the World Showplace at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA.

25-year old Dan Wheldon -- from Emberton in Buckinghamshire -- received the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award.

Dana Arnold of Bombardier presented the award and a $50,000 bonus to Wheldon for leading the rookie standings in the 2003 season with 312 points in his No 26 Klein Tools / Jim Beam Dallara / Honda / Firestone.

Wheldon finished 11th in the final IndyCar™ Series point standings, with a best finish of third in the last race of the season -- earlier this month -- at Texas Motor Speedway.

Furthermore, Wheldon's achievement was attained despite him not taking part in the first two races of the 16-race 2003 Indy Racing League IndyCar™ Series.

This is the fourth Rookie of the Year award which Dan Wheldon has won since moving to the USA in 1999. That first year in the States, Dan won the US Formula Ford 2000 Championship outright, at his first attempt, and was Rookie of the Year.

He then took two more rookie awards while competing in CART Toyota Atlantic in 2000 and CART Dayton Indy Lights in 2001 -- finishing second in the Championship on both occasions.

Commenting on being presented with the 2003 Bombardier Rookie of the Year award on Saturday evening, Dan Wheldon said: 'I'd like to thank (Andretti Green Racing co-owners) Michael (Andretti), Kim (Green) and Kevin (Savoree) for this opportunity. It's been a v ery, very good year.'

During Saturday's Championship Celebration, the late Tony Renna -- who was going to be Scott Dixon's team-mate with Ganassi Racing in 2004 -- was honoured with a moment of silence.

Renna suffered fatal injuries in a crash during a Firestone tyre test last Wednesday, 22 October, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while testing for the first time with Ganassi Racing.

On Saturday evening, Dan Wheldon commented: 'My thoughts and prayers are with Tony, his fiancee, his family and his friends. He was a great guy, and I just loved racing against him.'

A season review show with interviews from the Championship Celebration will be televised at 2pm (EST) on 30 October on ESPN.

-dwr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Tony Renna , Jim Beam
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing