Indianapolis Motor Speedway will pay tribute to reigning Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon with a series of events leading up to next weekend's race.
Wheldon, who was fatally injured in an accident at the 2011 IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas in October, took the lead of last year's race at the final corner after Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand brushed the wall. It was his second victory at the 500.
The tributes began on Wednesday with the temporary addition of the Bryan Herta Autosport car that Wheldon drove last year to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum, where it will remain on display until Saturday. Herta will then drive the car for a lap of honor on race day shortly before the instructions are given to start engines.
Fans will be given white cardboard sunglasses mimicking those worn by Wheldon as they enter the track on race day, and will be encouraged to wear them on the parade lap and laps 26 and 98, which were the numbers of his two Indy-winning cars.
Additionally, Wheldon will appear on all of the race day technical inspection stickers, which will be attached to every car in the field.
embodied the spirit of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway
like few who have ever raced here,” said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor
Speedway president and CEO. “He loved this race
and this special place so much, and his fans and everyone associated with ‘The
Greatest Spectacle in Racing' returned that affection with equal passion. We're
honored to pay tribute to Dan – an incredible father, husband, friend and
driver – through these activities this year. But rest assured, he will be
remembered forever at IMS.”
Other race week tributes include Wheldon's wife, Susie, participating in the Public
Drivers Meeting on May 26 at IMS and receiving her husband's Champion of
Champions ring for his 2011 Indianapolis 500 victory when she arrives in