INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – IndyCar racing is a family affair, witness the Andretti, Unser, and now the Herta families.
It appears you can add ‘Wheldon’ to that list. The ‘Lionheart’ lives on at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The two-time Indy 500 champion, who died nearly eight years ago after a racing accident in Las Vegas would be thrilled to see his two sons on the track he loved.
“The boys feel like they’re closer to him when they come here,” said Wheldon’s widow Susie, as 10-year-old Sebastian and eight-year-old Oliver prepare for their first quarter midget race.
Both boys, who were in the winner’s family photo with their parents after Dan won his second 500 in 2011 are excited to make the move from go-karts to midgets. Hot Wheels and USAC are sponsoring the brothers trying to make the transition at the annual ‘Battle for the Brickyard’ weekend event.
“I’m excited to race, but it’s a little bit harder to drive,” said Oliver. “Sometimes it’s a little bit slippery through the corners and you can spin out really easily. If you do that, you have to turn your car off because if you don’t, you have to take a penalty and go to the back of the field.”
Sebastian has a little more experience in karting, even though both started when they were four-years-old.
“It’s been great,” said Sebastian. “I like the car a lot and they’re faster than go-karts too. I’m happy to race here because my dad won twice here.”
Susie has brought the boys to the 500 on a handful of occasions, but to see them racing here will be a little surreal.
“I started in public relations here in 2003, and to think 16 years later, I would be watching my two sons race at the speedway is hard to imagine. With Dan and what he did as a driver, he’ll always be there with us. The boys have to reconcile that in their own mind. I feel like there is a real connection with him when they’re on the track and racing. I think they’ll understand that even more when they get older. It’s really cool just to see them out there and Dan would be over the moon that they’re racing, so it’s really very special.”