Dan Wheldon

DAN WHELDON was a charismatic Englishman who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and 2011. He took a gamble at the age of 19 and moved to the United States to further his career, and quickly found success in “stepping-stone” series, progressing rapidly. Between 2002 and 2011, Wheldon had 128 starts in IndyCar races and won 16, including the 2005 race in which he reclaimed the lead from Danica Patrick on Lap 194 and outlasted a charging Vitor Meira. His Hollywood-like win at the 100th Anniversary “500” in 2011, in which rookie driver J.R. Hildebrand hit the wall exiting Turn 4 on the final lap, allowing Wheldon to narrowly beat Hildebrand’s wounded car to the finish line, was one of the most improbable, emotional victories in racing history. Wheldon finished second to Tony Kanaan for the 2004 IndyCar title, won it in 2005, and tied Sam Hornish Jr. in points for 2006 but lost the championship on a tiebreaker. Earlier that year, Wheldon won the Rolex 24-Hours at Daytona with teammates Scott Dixon and Casey Mears. Wheldon’s record at IMS was stellar: In addition to two wins, Wheldon finished third in 2004, fourth in 2006 (after leading 148 laps) and was runner-up in 2009 and 2010. Tragically, he lost his life in a multi-car accident at Las Vegas on October 16, 2011.

Year Inducted: 2019