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A Thought on Dan Wheldon

on October 16, 2011

I just got back to my hotel after covering the IZOD IndyCar World Championships in Las Vegas.

My reporter, Pat Mauro, and I were producing a series of articles with photos and videos for a new site called the “Social Racing Grid.”

We had just started covering IndyCar and I kept saying to Pat, “I can’t believe how cool all these drivers are.”

Pat Mauro, a 20-year veteran sports reporter was shocked with how genuine the drivers were. He has interviewed all kinds of athletes and noticed that when we stopped interviewing it was always the driver who would jump in and say, “Thank you.”

“It’s usually me who says, ‘Thank you,” first,” Pat said.

They were all incredibly nice, eager to give us interviews and especially friendly to fans who wanted autographs and photos with them. And they make the drivers incredibly accessible to fans. Minutes before the drivers get in their car they’re still happy to take a photo or sign an autograph.

And just before the race I said to Pat, “These drivers have all been incredibly nice to us. I’m kind of concerned and worried that something might happen.”

And then something did.

Dan Wheldon died today on lap 13 of the IZOD IndyCar World Championships.

Minutes before the race we were photographing Wheldon. The day before he had hosted an event for Ortsbo, a client of Spark Media Solutions, entitled, “IndyCar Live and Global.” He was interviewing points leaders Dario Franchitti and Will Power. The three were answering questions from around the world.

Afterwards, we got a chance to interview Wheldon. Both Pat and I remarked what an on-camera showman he was. He was yet another incredibly kind driver who was more than happy to participate in our little startup media outlet.

During the interview yesterday the PR people were giving us the wrap it up signal, and Pat was happy to oblige, but Wheldon just wanted to go on talking. And he did, and then he, like the other drivers, thanked us for the interview.

I knew Dan for a few minutes, but his kindness and charm were infectious.

We’ve collected all the coverage we did with and about Dan in a single post on the Social Racing Grid.

Below is the interview he gave with us after the Ortsbo event.

Here are some photos both Pat and I took of Dan over the weekend. Most of them in his suit were shot just moments before he got into his car.

Get the flash player here:

Here’s another video we shot with Dan just after he finished qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar World Championships.

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