Saturday, October 22, 2011

For Dan...and some Penguins

There is a cloud of grief over Indianapolis, and the racing world at large this week. We lost a Champion and a great man on Sunday, Oct 16. A racing accident in Las Vegas claimed the life of reigning Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon. I still can't really believe that this Indy Car Champion and 2-time winner of the 500 is no longer with us. I moved to Indy in 2005, the year Dan won his first 500. I was struggling to find a connection to my new community and Dan's infectious love of this great race, and Indianapolis, helped to cement my own feelings about how wonderful this town is.

I remember watching a clip of Dan, maybe before the 500 Festival Parade the day before the race, saying "THIS IS INDIANAPOLIS!" with great enthusiasm in his wonderful accent.  From that time on,  I swear there has not been one time that I haven't walked through the Indianapolis airport on my way home from a trip, driven downtown, or walked through the gates of the Speedway, that I don't hear that voice and phrase in my head.

As so many others have written this week, Dan was simply larger than life.  He was a tremendously competitive driver, who never lost sight of the fans, or his family and friends.   Here's how I will remember Dan - in happiest times - the victory lap of the 2011 500.  
Photo compliments of  L. Rapp
As a very small tribute to Dan, I knit up this little Penguin Jumper - to help out the penguins who are struggling to survive the catastrophic oil spill off the shores of New Zealand  (In another post I'm going to discuss why we can't seem to stop this kind of carnage).

Seriously, the sweaters help keep the penguins warm while they are recovering and help to keep them from pulling out all their feathers from distress. This little sweater is made up in the colors of Dan's winning driver's suit. I know there is going to be one little penguin out there who, upon donning this sweater, will develop a giant will to win, swimming with all its heart to the head of the pack, with a huge smile on its face.

Thanks Dan, for all you gave to us fans.

A fund has been set up for Dan's family. Funds can be sent to :

Fifth Third Private Bank
Attn: Dan Wheldon Family Trust
251 North Illinois St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Also, Graham Rahal is pulling together a huge auction to raise funds as well. More information is available on Graham's facebook page.

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