Dan Wheldon: Ten Years Later
DW12 in 2012
DW12 in 2021
She may have had a couple of facelifts and gotten safety goggles, but the DW12 still puts on competitive racing that is some of the best on TV. Over the years multiple aerodynamic and safety changes have been made to improve racing, improve safety, and keep the DW12 relevant in 2021. Source

Unfortunately for Bernard, Las Vegas would be the turning of the tide in his IndyCar career.  Team owners already did not like Bernard due to his propensity to consider the future of the sport overall and less about their individual interests (something the team owners were not used to).  Lotus’s involvement was such a joke they pulled out of IndyCar after the Indy 500, their cars being black-flagged because they were so slow.  After the Vegas race, Lotus’s embarrassing IndyCar return, and multiple squabbles with team owners, Randy Bernard was let go in 2012 despite fan outcry.  Whether or not you believe Bernard was let go unfairly (and I happen to fall into that camp), his three years in the series left a lasting impression.  It was Randy’s idea to create unique aero kits to add visual variety and bring back old race tracks like Pocono and Phoenix.  These were things fans had begged for and he set the stage for them to happen.   Bernard tried his hardest and was willing to experiment in a sport that was struggling to grow.  Bernard currently manages Garth Brooks.

IndyCar still struggles to retake the title of most popular motorsport in the US, but unlike a decade ago the trends have been demonstrably positive: NASCAR and F1 pull many times the viewers, but IndyCar is consistently growing.   The racing is stellar with half the field in contention to win on any given weekend.  The series and IMS were purchased by Roger Penske at the end of 2019 bringing stability the series has badly needed.  Occasionally, IndyCar makes huge, national headlines for the right reasons: Alexander Rossi winning the 100th Indy 500, or Penske’s push for diversity in the series.  Romain Grosjean’s entry in 2021 brought renewed European interest.  Jimmie Johnson’s rookie year also brought interest from NASCAR fans (and in the ultimate twist, both drivers completed their Indy 500 rookie orientation tests only a few weeks ago).  Car counts are strong and more tracks are interested in hosting races.  A new class of rookies and younger drivers have brought new faces and new rivalries to the series, many of whom were children when Dan died.

Alex Palou & Patricio O'Ward
2011 was so long ago that 2021 IndyCar title rivals Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward were only 14 and 12 when Wheldon died. Source

But the thing that would make IndyCar just that little bit better would be the heart-warming grin, the relentless energy, and the driving talent of Dan Wheldon.  We still miss you, Dan.  Thanks for the memories.

Dan Wheldon The Champion


  1. Great article, not a fan a Indy and at that time I had no idea of who DW was, but after reading this I have a very clear idea of what a larger than life character and his overall impact in the series.

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