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Wheldon honored at memorial kart race

Top stars came out to support event
Tuesday, December 06, 2011

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Jenson Button
F1 star Jenson Button and newly crowned IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti were among a host of top racing drivers all competing in a very special two-hour endurance kart race staged at Daytona Milton Keynes last night (5 December) to commemorate the life and many achievements of their friend Dan Wheldon.

Daytona Milton Keynes kart track was the perfect venue to honor the much loved and admired Wheldon, the double Indianapolis 500 winner and former IndyCar Champion who tragically lost his life in the final round of this year’s IZOD IndyCar Series at Las Vegas in October.

Friend and event organizer Johnny Mowlem chose the Daytona Milton Keynes venue, located just 10 minutes away from Dan’s hometown of Emberton, as this first class outdoor kart facility was the perfect place to accommodate the high number of friends and fund-raisers all wanting to give Dan the best possible ‘send-off’.

Due to the unprecedented support for the Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race, the grid at Daytona Milton Keynes was stretched to its maximum with 36 teams of four drivers taking part. Each team was headed up by a professional driver representing every echelon of worldwide motorsport: F1, F2, F3, Le Mans, ALMS, BTCC, GP2, GT, World Touring Cars, Sportscar and IndyCar – all paying tribute to their friend and raising more than £17,000 for the Wheldon family’s chosen charity, the Alzheimer’s Society. The total surpassed expectations and is testament to the heart-felt support for the family of one of Britain’s best loved racing drivers.

Drivers gather for a group photo
After a heart-warming welcome from Mowlem, the drivers took to the track for the two-hour endurance race in Daytona Motorsport’s fleet of superb Vodafone DMAX karts – the fastest hire karts currently available in the UK. The super-quick 125cc, twin-engine race karts were the perfect machines for the highly competitive professional drivers. Most of the pro racers taking part started their careers racing karts and many are still regulars at Daytona venues across the UK in their spare time.

Mowlem said: “The overwhelming response for Dan’s Memorial Kart Race was truly moving; it has been a fantastic evening. The event sold out within just a few hours and the management and staff at Daytona Milton Keynes have done a brilliant job to accommodate such a huge gathering – I can’t thank them enough for their support.”

Dan Wheldon
Jim Graham, Daytona Motorsport’s Marketing Director, said: “We’re obviously delighted to be chosen to host such an important and memorable event. It’s great to see so many of motorsport’s elite here enjoying themselves while raising money for an extremely worthwhile cause and remembering a friend and colleague.”

The evening brought together an unprecedented gathering of the world’s finest racing talent (see full line-up below) as well as members of the Wheldon family. The event concluded with Dan’s father Clive Wheldon thanking all the teams and drivers for taking part in this poignant event. “Dan would have been very proud,” he said. Clive then hinted at plans to make the Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race a permanent annual fixture in future motor sport calendars.

Drivers gather for a group photo with Wheldon Family
Pro Drivers taking part:
Jenson Button
Dario Franchitti
Anthony Davidson
David Coulthard
Guy Smith
Jonny Kane
Rob Huff
James Hinchcliffe
Johnny Herbert
Marino Franchitti
Martin Brundle
Alex Brundle
Mike Conway
Derek Hayes
Adam Carroll
Chris Buncombe
Richard Dean
Steven Kane
Sam Hancock
Luke Hines
Marc Hynes
Nic Minassian
James Rossiter
Peter Dumbreck
Richard Lyons
Sam Bird
Duncan Tappy
James Thompson
Tom Sisley
Ollie Hancock
Danny Watts
Johnny Mowlem

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 recognized. 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 honor 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.”

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