Sebastian Wheldon steals the show at Dan Wheldon Memorial Karting Challenge
NEW CASTLE – It was truly “Like Father, Like Son.” The cliché fit too perfect for a sunny day for karting.
When he was sitting at the autograph table, he was the talk of the fans and the subject of the pictures being taken. Once he put on his helmet, all eyes were once again on him.
Did we mention that the subject of this affection is 5 years old?
“He does understand the connection with him racing and Dan being a racer,” said Susie Wheldon of her son Sebastian, who was the star of his father’s second annual Memorial Karting Challenge at the New Castle Motorsports Park.
The young Sebastian was as much of a hit as his father Dan, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who was known for his outgoing personality that attracted fans from all walks during his time in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Wheldon was killed in an accident during the 2011 IndyCar World Championship at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
While still a number of years from competing professionally in open wheel racing, the young Sebastian was certainly able to handle the attention around him with calm. During the autograph session that featured IndyCar Series drivers, Wheldon sat between James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon on the autograph table.
With a pen he wrote down "SB7" in reference to his name and car number. He signed blank IndyCar hero cards and was extremely popular among those in the line.
"He's so into it, man," said Hinchcliffe of Sebastian. "He's already a race car driver."
Fittingly he signed his last hero card at the table and gave it to his mother, Susie.
"It makes me so proud as an auntie, bless him," said Dan's sister Holly Wheldon of Sebastian being at the karting event Saturday and also taking on a very important job.
Wheldon was chosen to lead the field for a few pace laps to start off the event and attracted a big crowd around him as his mother helped put on his helmet and then sent him off. Sebastian gave the cameras a thumbs up and then his mother a kiss as he took to the track and led the cars around the karting track to start the event.
"He absolutely loves karting, he's taking it on so well. He just wants to be like his dad," said Holly Wheldon. "It's so great to see."
Many did so on Saturday afternoon, where another Wheldon shined brightly in the spotlight.