I don’t quite know how the tragic news of Dan Wheldon’s death in an Indycar race has been reported worldwide, but in the UK, the news has been very prominent. It is unusual, given that an ordinary Indycar race wouldn’t get a mention at all in most newspapers, the Indy 500 might warrant two paragraphs, and the series finale might’ve had 100 words tops.

So it has come, in a bitterly ironic twist, that the brilliant achievements of Dan Wheldon only come to light on this side of the Atlantic through this horrible disaster, that his unquestionable driving talent and superb skills behind the wheel are recognised by the general public only too late.

Dan Wheldon 1978-2011

Dan Wheldon, 1978-2011

There are plenty of images and videos of the monstrous 15-car, 220mph+ pile-up that led to Wheldon ultimately losing his life, but I simply don’t think footage of it should be broadcast any more. The fact 24-hour news networks have effectively been playing a sequence where a man suffers a horribly violent death at least twice an hour is particularly uncomfortable, and I seriously question how much of that can be editorially justified.

In fact, the footage which created far more impact on an emotional level was the drivers’ subsequent five-lap tribute to Wheldon, a procession which happened mere minutes after the news was officially broken. Especially with Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes. The effect is altogether more moving and effective.

While ABC’s coverage may have had a few mistakes (including missing the start of Indycar chief executive officer Randy Bernard’s brief press announcement that Dan Wheldon had died, leaving it up to the already-emotional presenters to have to deliver the sad news instead), the footage within this video is absolutely poignant, as are the fitting words at the end.

When I started writing this blog post, it was going to be about the memories I had of watching him, as I followed him via Sky Sports’ coverage and through Autosport magazine from 2002ish, from his days getting used to the Indy Racing League (ending one Indy 500 race upside down in 2003 or 2004, I believe), before hitting his stride in 2005 with a fantastic series of wins, then returning to form by winning the Indy 500 in spectacular style this year as J R Hildebrand crashed on the final turn of the race. And this race, clearly, was to be used as a stepping stone for a spot on the 2012 Indycar grid, a wildcard entry as part of a $5m promotion (where he would have split the winnings 50/50 with a randomly drawn fan had he charged from 34th to finish 1st). A fun little gimmick that sadly hasn’t played out, although it would be entirely fitting if some of that $5m prize fund was to go to charity.

But as I mentioned, this post was to be about my memories of Dan Wheldon, but I have found a post which sums it all up much better than I could ever have done so. Marshall Pruett, the floor is all yours.

RIP ‘Danny boy’.