Sunday, May 27, 2012
Saluting Dan Wheldon
By Rick Morris
This Sunday last year, during Memorial Day weekend, marked the pinnacle of Dan Wheldon’s awesome racing career. He captured the centennial Indianapolis 500 title, his second at the track, and one achieved without a top ride, or even a regular one. Given the importance of big money behind championship racers, his feat was mind-boggling.
Shortly thereafter, he came on The FDH Lounge to discuss his win and the state of his career. I have stated often in the year since then that I was amazed at the humility of Dan, to come on a program the present size of ours. One day, I am confident, we will book guests of his stature without batting an eyelash. But we’re certainly not at that point yet.
He couldn’t have been more gracious to us and I have often pointed to our conversation as an excellent indicator of the man’s character. He was squeezed out of a top ride by the bad economy and the shrinking number of spots available for world-class drivers, but he handled his adversity with great aplomb.
Months later, with his comeback in full stride, he was tragically taken from his fans, and worst of all, his loved ones.
This weekend, he is rightly being celebrated at Indianapolis, the spot he cherished most in his beloved adopted country (it is estimated that he posed for more pictures with fans at the Brickyard than any driver in history). His widow Susie accepted his championship ring during this week and today’s race will be full of tributes to the defending champion who is not physically here anymore.
On this day, while the pain haunts his family and fans still very greatly, let us remember his spirit and his achievements. Toward that end, we present once again his conversation in The FDH Lounge and our tribute to him, which was recorded with FDH Chief Motorsports Correspondent Mike Ptak. Mike is a very good and trusted friend of mine and the perfect person to have helped me produce our tribute segment. We hope that you enjoy this celebration of Dan Wheldon’s life.