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Monday, 17 October 2011

Requiescat in pace, Dan Wheldon

The IndyCar race this weekend produced one of the most horrific racing accidents in a long time. Tragically, a great young driver, Dan Wheldon, lost his life as a result of the crash. In a way, the worst part of the situation was that Dan was caught up in a mess someone else produced. He was two or three rows of cars back from the initial contact.

Unfortunately, accidents are inevitable in an environment of cars going over two hundred miles an hour. In this case, the tight confines of the track and the closeness of the cars to each other exacerbated the problem. It happens in much less restricted environments, too, though. Just ask Felipe Massa (use any Internet search engine with the phrase "Felipe Massa crash"). Luckily, you can ask Felipe. He took a suspension spring from another car in the helmet at high speed. His helment manufacturer saved his life.

Or Swede Savage back in the 1973 Indy 500, or Ayrton Senna in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. They both suffered mechanical failures on their cars at high speed. They both paid with their lives.

And it’s not just the pros that have to worry about it. I have flagged amateur and pro races since 2003 and raced as an amateur since 2004. I've seen more than one friend die due to injuries from an on-track incident. I've seen some die on-track of unrelated medical causes, and start the incident.

The point here is that there's a great tendency when these things happen to lament. And we should lament the truncation of a promising life, a young life. Our thoughts and prayers should go with those left behind. It is, after all, a tragedy.

But we should not lament the manner in which they died. They died doing what they love. Would that we should all be so lucky.

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