The Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race held at Daytona Milton Keynes on Monday, December 5, proved a fitting tribute to the 2005 IndyCar Champion and double Indy 500 winner who hailed from nearby Emberton in Buckinghamshire by raising over £17,000 for Alzheimer’s Society.
London, UK — Tuesday, December 6, 2001: Friends and colleagues representing the elite ranks of worldwide motorsport united to race in Dan’s memory and in support of the event organised by close friend and sportscar ace Johnny Mowlem.
Over 100 members of the public also had the chance to take part in honour of one of Britain’s best-loved and charismatic champions while helping to raise thousands of pounds of in aid of the Wheldon family’s nominated charity.
The worthy winners were Team Button — DW Lionhearts, of Jenson Button, Dan’s Dad, Clive Wheldon, and family friends Doug Coleman and Mark Lewis. They took the top step of the podium thanks to the generosity of their rivals, who willingly embraced Mowlem’s Cash for Penalties initiative. In a manner of which Dan would have wholeheartedly approved, any person present could buy laps or black flags in exchange for charity donations for Alzheimer’s Society.
Runners-up were Team Coulthard — DW Bandits, of David Coulthard, Dan’s brothers Elliott and Ashley, and Jason Moore. However, fifth-placed Team Franchitti — DW Legends, of Dario Franchitti, Dan’s sister Holly Wheldon, Peter Houghton, Tom Coleman and Gavin MacFayden aptly shared the second step on the podium. Team Watts came third, with Danny Watts, Jim Littman, Jason Fowler and Nick Perks completing the rostrum, while Dan’s brother Austen also joined the celebrations.
The Daytona grid was stretched to capacity to accommodate demand for the event, with 36 teams of four people battling the bitterly cold conditions to mark their respects. Other professional drivers, many of whom had raced with Dan at some stage or throughout his career, included Anthony Davidson, Jonny Kane, Rob Huff, James Hinchcliffe, Johnny Herbert, Marino Franchitti, Martin and Alex Brundle, Mike Conway, Derek Hayes, Adam Carroll, Chris Buncombe, Richard Dean, Steven Kane, Sam Hancock, Luke Hines, Marc Hynes, Bradley Ellis, Nic Minassian, James Rossiter, Peter Dumbreck, Richard Lyons, Sam Bird, Duncan Tappy, James Thompson, Tom Sisley, Jake Humphreys and Ollie Hancock.
Clive Wheldon: “The turn out tonight has been amazing. To have all these famous racing drivers racing for Dan and raising money for Alzheimer’s Society is fantastic. I was at the Autosport Awards where Dan got an award and received a standing ovation, and that also brought a lump to my throat and made me very proud. It’s nice to have all of his achievements in motor racing recognised. I just wish he could have been here tonight. I hope we repeat this event next year with people like Jenson and all the other drivers who have come to support him. I take my hat off to them.”
Dario Franchitti: “Dan was so passionate about karting. So to come here, close to where he grew up and alongside a lot of his family and friends, to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society, is a very fitting tribute. I think he would have been laughing, watching us racing in freezing conditions and some of the situations we got ourselves into tonight. Obviously it’s bitter sweet as he’s not here, that’s the very tough part. But it’s the best way I can think of to honour him. I think Johnny Mowlem and everyone involved has done a fantastic job getting this event together. It’s been terrific.”
Johnny Mowlem: “The Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race has quite simply exceeded all my expectations. Not only has the event achieved everything I hoped, but tonight was all about celebrating Dan’s life and the wonderful person, driver and friend he was. We’ve certainly done him proud and I can’t thank everyone enough for their support.”