The world of IndyCar racing was rocked on Sunday with the tragic death of driver Dan Wheldon, who was killed during a race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and now RadarOnline.com reveals the man behind the wheel as he is mourned by friends, family and racing fans around the world.
As RadarOnline.com previously reported,Wheldon died after his car headed into a 15-motor pileup, careened into mid-air and smashed into a catch fence and caught fire.
The 33-year-old English race car driver was airlifted to University Medical Center and IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard announced his death about two hours later.
While the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was a huge name in the fast-paced sport, many non-racing fans weren’t as familiar with the talented driver until after his tragic death.
Born in the country village of Emberton, in Buckinghamshire, England, Wheldon had a need for speed at a very young age and started karting when he was just four years old.
He joined the junior racing circuit in the U.K. as a teenager and began skipping school to compete.
“Daniel was born to be a racer and yesterday left us doing what he loved to do,” revealed his dad, Clive Wheldon.
Wheldon left his homeland in 1999 for America after failing to secure enough financial backing to build a career out of his passion reported USAToday.com.
IndyCar racing gets little coverage or recognition in England where Formula One dominates the world of motor sports, so the enthusiastic young driver hoped to make it big by moving to the U.S.
Wheldon quickly lived up to his talents by taking the IndyCar world by storm when he joined the Andretti Green Racing team in 2002 and won the Rookie of The Year Award.
In 2005, he became the first British driver in 39 years to take the checquered flag in the famed Indianapolis 500 and his total of six wins that year broke the record for the most in one season.
Wheldon went on to win the Indy 500 again this year after taking the lead for the first time with only seconds remaining and became the first driver in the race’s history to win by leading for just a single lap.
Since moving to the U.S., he lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, with his wife and long-time personal assistant, Susie Behm, and their two young sons, Sebastian, two, and Oliver, who was just seven months old.
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, three other drivers were hospitalized for injuries suffered in the crash, which racing star Danica Patrick described as a gnarly movie scene.
“It was debris everywhere across the whole track, you could smell the smoke, you could see the billowing smoke on the back straight from the car,” she told the AP.