Monday, October 24, 2011


It was a full house at Conseco Field yesterday afternoon as fans flocked in the thousands to pay their final respects to Dan Wheldon. Susie Wheldon and her family were in attendance, as well as Wheldon’s close friends and colleagues.  The memorial was a silent, respectful affair. Fellow driver Justin Wilson commented after the ceremony: ‘Dan’s memorial was perfect, just like he would have wanted it.’ A 2012 IndyCar sat on stage left, painted in white with red stripes on the bodywork to match the colours of the English flag, Wheldon’s trademark Lionheart symbol emblazoned across the sidepods.  Slideshows of Dan’s life were shown on projection screens as Reba McEntire, Perry, and Garth Brooks performed.

But what people came to hear were the stories of Dan, and there were many tales to tell.  Speakers took turns delivering their speeches, each recounting their time spent with Wheldon. The speaker’s list included IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, IMS President Jeff Belskus, Panther Racing PR Director Mike Kitchel, Dan’s managers Mickey Ryan and Adrian Sussman, Ganassi Racing manager Mike Hull, and drivers Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, and Bryan Herta. Many tears were shed, but there was also celebration. It was comforting to see Susie and the family laughing along to the humorous anecdotes of Dan, remembering the happier times, as they were.

The following is a selection of quotes from the memorial service:

'Dan saw the funny side of life and helped us all to laugh about it.' – Jeff Belskus

'I wanted a trophy and a pace car for each of my boys.' – Adrian Sussman recalls why Wheldon wanted to win a second Indy 500

'Dan was the only guy I knew who had 200 pairs of shoes. It looked a like a communist country's military shoe parade across the floor.' - Mickey Ryan recounting a trip to Wheldon's closet

'Dan Wheldon was all about engagement. His belief was that life was better when it was shared with each other.' - Mike Hull

‘He was a brother that we didn’t ask for. I mean, a guy that looks better than the three of us… Younger, hungry for a win, won more races… Single. He was the only one of us who looked like he belonged in a boy band.’ – Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, & Bryan Herta on their early days with Wheldon

‘He had more hair products than any single girl combined together here.' - Tony Kanaan on Wheldon’s hotel bathroom at Motegi, Japan

‘Without doubt, the tightest race suit I’ve ever seen. I’m surprised he fathered two kids, to be honest.’ – Dario Franchitti on Wheldon’s firesuit

‘The guy was trying to make up for an entire country’s worth of bad dental work in one mouth’ – Bryan Herta on Wheldon’s Million Dollar Smile

‘He is the only guy to be on the Borg Warner trophy with two different sets of teeth.’ – Dario Franchitti on Wheldon’s dental transformation

‘We used to think Dan was really high maintenance… Then we got Marco (Andretti) as a teammate.’ – Dario Franchitti 

‘At first Dan was the little brother we didn’t want. Now, we’d do anything to have him back. We miss you D-Dub.’ – Dario Franchitti

'That's how I want to remember Dan: Always happy. Always smiling, and always shining down on us.' – Randy Bernard


  1. Peter, do you know where the lion image in this article came from? I'm doing some work with Dan's family and would like to use it in the PR materials, but don't want to use without permission. Please email me at dwkc AT racedriversinc DOT com.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Peter. I actually love this Lion Image. I was wanting to use it also. Do you know where it came from and who to speak with? Thanks. bluefusioncomputers at gmail