Nearly a year ago, Susie Wheldon was celebrating her husband’s unlikely final-turn victory at the Indianapolis 500. Today, she thanked her departed mate’s fans and friends.
British driver Dan Wheldon, a two-time champ at the 500 and an outsized personality in the sport, was the winner of the 100th-anniversary Indy 500 last year and also won the race in 2005. He was killed in October 2011 in a multi-car crash in the IndyCar Series’ season-ending race in Las Vegas. This 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be the first race that Susie Wheldon attends since that tragedy.
Dario Franchitti, a fellow driver and friend of Dan Wheldon, presented the 2011 Indy 500 champion ring, which harbors one diamond carat and 14-karat gold, to Susie Wheldon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She did not field media queries but did address those gathered after accepting it:
>> “I just want to take a moment to thank everybody for the outpouring of love and support over the past several months for me and my family. Everyone from Indianapolis, around the country and the world, my racing family and Dan’s fans. It has been so comforting to have the support of so many during such a difficult time.”
>> “I am honored to be here to be here to accept this Champion of Champions ring on behalf of my husband. Dan loved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and what it meant to win here, and I am proud to be here to represent him as a two-time winner. I’m proud to be here with my children, Sebastian and Oliver, to celebrate their father’s life and legacy and him as a great champion and ambassador of the Indianapolis 500.”
Photos of Dan and Susan Wheldon courtesy IMS; Ring ceremony photos by Chris Jones.