The racing world lost two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon at the tender age of 33 in a fiery crash on Sunday in Las Vegas. The dapper Dan had close ties to Hollywood. He was sponsored by Justin Timberlake's clothing line William Rast and was friends with Ashley Judd's family.
Choked up after witnessing the fatal accident, long-time buddy and fellow driver Dario Franchetti, Ashley's husband, said, "We can put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and it's what we love to do and it's what we live for and then it's days like today that it doesn't really matter. I lost, we lost a good friend...He was a charmer and then he became this loving family guy."
A tearful Ashley tweeted verses to a poem, "As we continue to absorb Dan's accident - we forget, remember, re- experience shock, denial, anger, pain - I'm reminded of a favorite poem: DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so, For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, Due not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest & sleepe, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die. J Donne."
Fellow Indy racers took the news hard. Danica Patrick told ET, "Racing lost a wonderful champion today. Dan brought so much excitement and personality to the sport and its fans. He was a great driver and I feel privileged to have raced with him. I pray not only for him, but for his wife Susie, their two boys Sebastian and Oliver, and the rest of his family."
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Dancing With the Stars champ Helio Castroneves voiced, "It's so hard to speak these days ... Dan was a nice guy, my God! A guy like that we feel satisfaction in knowing. He had a son at the age of Mikaella and another baby a few months. So we are all devastated, with a heavy heart. It's a huge loss. Let us pray that his soul is received with all the glories of the Kingdom of God and sustain his family."
Dan's final tweet was likely sent out just moments before revving his engine. It simply reads, "Green!!!" He was clearly excited to hit the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a chance at the title and the hefty jackpot.
The 15-car pileup also injured three other competitors, JR Hildebrand and Pippa Mann, who will remain hospitalized overnight and Will Power, who has already been discharged, according to the Associated Press. The unharmed cars decided to line up on the track one again for a five lap salute in honor of their late colleague. Friends, family, and fans can be seen with tears rolling down their cheeks.
Dan is survived by wife Susie and two young sons, Oliver and Sebastian. Additional stars offered their condolences on Twitter. Read their heartfelt messages below.
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Kim Kardashian: My heart goes out to race car driver, Dan Wheldon's family, his wife & 2 babies. Such a tragedy.
Hope Solo: My heart hurts deeply for Dan Wheldon and his family.An amazing individual who inspired me the moment we met.RIP Dan. Your legacy lives on..
Denise Richards: My thoughts and prayers are with @danwheldon and his loved ones.. What a sad day. #IndyCar #danwheldon
DJ Pauly D: Sending My Thoughts And Prayers To Dan Wheldon Family And Friends We Lost A Great One Today #RIP
Shannon Elizabeth: OMG-My heart & prayers go out to all those in the big crash this morning at the Las Vegas Indy 300-esp 2 time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon who was killed in the crash-may he rest in peace & I pray his family & friends can get through this horrible, tragic event!
GMA's Josh Elliott: In racing, so often drivers walk away from such horrors, unharmed. @DanWheldon's death today, a brutal reminder of life's fragility
Erin Andrews: Very sorry to hear the news of Dan Wheldon..puts alot into perspective today..my heart hurts for his family
LeBron James: R.I.P to IndyCar Driver Dan Wheldon! Dies In 15-Car Crash At Las Vegas Race #tragedy. You'll be missed from Sports