Dan Wheldon's adopted hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla., wrapped his wife and extended family in a blanket of support as more than 1,200 filled First Presbyterian Church for his funeral Oct. 22.
"We fell in love with him and he fell in love with us," Mayor Bill Foster said during the service.
A public memorial for the two-time Indianapolis 500 and 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series champion will be held at 4 p.m. ET today (Sunday, Oct. 23) at Conseco FIeldhouse in Indianapolis. Doors open at 1:30 with seating beginning at 2:30.
Letters from Wheldon's wife, Susie, and sister, Holly, were read during the ceremony.
"You were a true lionheart, my love," Susie Wheldon said in the letter, which was read by family friend Michael Johnson. "I will never forget our final moments together...before you climbed into your car.
"I love you, Daniel Clive Wheldon. Thank you for sharing your love and your life with me."
Wrote Holly Wheldon, his youngest sibling: "We are here because of what happened on a racetrack. But my brother was born to race. Dan without racing was like a cup of tea without milk. And Dan loves his tea." It was read by one-time IZOD IndyCar Series teammate Scott Dixon.
Dixon joined IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan, along with Wheldon's brothers Austen, Elliott and Ashley, as pallbearers. Their father, Clive Wheldon, carried his son's racing helmet with him as they escorted the casket to a hearse.
Franchitti's sister-in-law, Wynonna Judd, sang "I Can Only Imagine" and "Amazing Grace" during the ceremony.
The Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund has been established for the financial security of Wheldon's family. The public can make contributions to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund starting Oct. 19 at:
Fifth Third Private Bank
Attn: Dan Wheldon Family Trust
251 North Illinois St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
All Fifth Third Bank branches also are accepting contributions in person, which will be routed to the account.
A memorial site, which includes a Facebook link to leave condolences and remembrances and a career photo retrospective, can be found at www.danwheldonmemorial.com.