4. RIP Dan Wheldon
Fourth on our list of biggest car stories of the year is the tragic death of IndyCar racer Dan Wheldon, who died behind the wheel at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a horrific crash that even Hollywood couldn’t dream up. The accident involved 15 drivers and occurred during the final race of the season, one in which the winners purse was an astonishing $5 million.
A former Indianapolis 500 winner, Wheldon was the runner up for the racing spectacle two years in a row before tasting the milk again this year. Still, he couldn’t find a solid ride for the 2011 season and sat out the rest of the races until Las Vegas.
Fellow racer Graham Rahal, moved by his colleagues death, first announced he would auction off helmet, gloves and shoes from the race, donating the funds to a trust fund for Wheldon’s wife and kids. The auction grew from there, accepting other items and auctioning them off with all of proceeds going to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund.
Direct donations are available via the Dan Wheldon Family Trust fund at the Fifth Third Private Bank, 251 N. Illinois St., Suite 1000, Indianapolis, IN 46204.