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“All forms of motor racing in England were very expensive, and even between sponsors and my family we weren’t able to find the budget to race,” he later recalled.
“I could have done F3 on a shoestring, but your career is pretty much over at that point.” Wheldon made an immediate impact in the United States, winning the Formula Ford 2000 title in his first year.
Wheldon’s annus mirabilis was 2005, when he achieved six victories and became the first driver since the start of the Indy Car Racing League (IRL) in 1996 to win the Indy 500 and the series championship in the same year.
This change only added to its allure for British drivers seeking an alternative to Formula One.
On the 11th lap, however, Wheldon was involved in a 15-car pile-up; his car burst into flames as it flew into the catch fence.
He was airlifted to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.
She settled on the early May date, with INDYCAR stakeholders Firestone, Big Machine Records, PNC Bank and Jonathan Byrd’s Racing among those to sponsor the four-driver teams consisting of one pro and three amateurs.
“We always had it at the end of the season so it didn’t fall in the racing season, so the drivers could be a little more relaxed,” Susie Wheldon said.He then returned to Panther Racing, before switching earlier this year to Bryan Herta Autosport, although — despite his victory in the Indy 500 in May — it was not a full-time team commitment.