Originally written on Juiced Sports Blog  |  Last updated 6/28/14

SCOTT JACOBS

Admittedly I know very little about racing. If you read our site on a consistent basis you would know that we have probably never written a single article on the sport. That said, we cover stories first and foremost over the particular sport, and today the world of sports lost a very big name: Dan Wheldon. Killed in the 12th lap of a race he didn’t even need to be in, on the final day of the Indy racing calendar, Wheldon was a 2 time Indy 500 Champion, whose life was tragically cut short in the spectacle of the public eye.

Today was yet another reminder how dangerous the sport of racing is. How weaving your car just inches, and sometimes millimeters on a very narrow track between 20 other cars going speeds upwards of 200 miles an hour, is unbelievably unsafe. In that regard, every time they take the track these guys have to know that it could be their last race. But it’s not often that tragedy strikes the sport. Today it did in a fiery blaze of sadness. And after hearing about the news, the first thing that came to mind was Dale Earnhardt, and how shocking his death was, back in the Daytona 500 in 2001.

This was eerily sad, but in a completely different realm, under completely opposite circumstances. Instead of the end of the race, it came towards the beginning. Instead of the season opening race, it was the season ending race. Wheldon’s passing was the type of moment that is seared in your brain. Not because you love the guy or follow the sport, but because you remember where you were and how you felt after you found out.

I won’t soon forget that 5 lap tribute: the sound of bagpipes to the haunted quietness of the engines of the cars that were unscathed. The crying on the sidelines, the hugging in the pit. The crew teams standing side by side lining the outside of the pit as the racers gently wheezed by. And Marty Reed’s final sendoff:

“Many people ask me why I always sign off ‘Till we meet again.’ Because goodbye is always so final. Goodbye, DanWheldon .”

At the end of the day it’s just a game. It’s just competition. It’s not life or death. Until something like this happens. And then everything is put back into perspective. Some of us may watch racing just for the wrecks. But I don’t think anyone ever wants to see someone killed. Farewell Dan Wheldon. Rest in peace.

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