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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Apr 01 2012, 1:01 PM

Hot Wheels will introduce a limited-run tribute Dan Wheldon commemorative edition car to simultaneously mark the beginning of a new IndyCar season and to celebrate the life of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.

Wheldon suffered fatal injuries after a 15-car crash during last year’s IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Available in toy stores in a matter of weeks, the Hot Wheel known as “DW-1″ will be the first Hot Wheel in decades to sport rear rubber tires and its proceeds will help support the Dan Wheldon Family Trust.

 |  Mar 08 2012, 8:07 AM

Last October, IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon tragically passed away in a 15 car accident at the Las Vegas 300. The British-born driver had adopted St. Petersburg, Florida as his hometown, and the city has named a street Dan Wheldon Way in honor of him.

The street is found on the St. Petersburg race course and the street sign was unveiled by city mayor Bill Foster and Wheldon’s wife, Susie. Dan Wheldon Way also has significance to Wheldon’s career, found on Turn 10 of the course where Wheldon overtook Ryan Briscoe to win a race back in 2005. The ceremony took place during IndyCar’s annual media day where the vast majority of active drivers were in attendance.

“I just want to take the opportunity to thank my St. Petersburg family for all the love and support over the last several months,” Susie Wheldon said during the ceremony. “What a beautiful gift to be part of his legacy, and it’s something we can all share for years to come. Sebastian and Oliver will be so proud to know the impact their father had on this community and the world of motorsports.”

Many of Wheldon’s family and friends shared memories at the event while emotions still run high since the accident took place at the final race of the 2011 IndyCar season. There is no doubt that many will race with a heavy heart when the 2012 IndyCar season kicks off on March 25th at the Honda Grand Prix in St. Petersburg. Susie Wheldon has not yet decided whether she’ll stay in town for the race.

The 2012 season will also mark the debut of IndyCar’s new model, named the Dallara DW12 after the fact that Wheldon helped develop it last year before his tragic accident. Many have said that the new race car is much safer thanks to better technology.

[Source: ESPN]

 |  Dec 28 2011, 9:15 AM

10. Fiat Returns to America


As another calendar year draws to a close it’s time to take a look back at the top 10 biggest stories of the year in the auto industry. It’s been a busy 12 months, starting all the way back in March when the Fiat 500 officially went on sale, marking the return of the brand to America. The last time an Italian car was sold here that didn’t cost six figures (or close to it) was 27 years ago. Since then, Fiat has introduced the 500C convertible model and most recently the Fiat 500 Abarth, aimed at enthusiasts.

The jury is still out on the Fiat brand’s success in North America, although the first year has failed to live up to expectations, with Fiat predicting sales of 50,000 units, while according to automotive data firm GoodCarBadCar only 17,444 have been sold in the first 11 months of the year (add 5,000 more if you include Canada). Some of this may be the result of Fiat’s marketing initiative with several ads featuring Jenifer Lopez, which the Fiat faithful rejected and many believe cost the brand boss Laura Souve her job. Getting the Fiat dealer network up and running also proved a challenge.

With more models coming, and Alfa Romeo set to return in 2013, Fiat is here to say. More importantly, perhaps, is the Fiat connection to Chrysler – a company it saved from bankruptcy and which it is now slowly rebuilding back into a profitable automaker.

 |  Dec 15 2011, 7:15 PM

IndyCar has released the cause of Dan Wheldon’s death as a non-survivable injury when his head hit a post in the fencing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two-time Indianapolis winner was killed in a 15-car accident at the October 16th race when his car was launched into the catch fence.

Beyond that, details were light and unfortunately no one reason could be singled out as the cause of the accident – making it difficult for Las Vegas Speedway to potentially make any changes in order to make the track safer. Investigators referred to the accident as a “perfect storm” and IndyCar said that ”impossible to determine with certainty that the result would have been any different if one or more of the factors did not exist.”

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard reiterated that the size of the field and the banking itself were not the sole responsible for the accident.

[Source: Fox News]

 |  Dec 13 2011, 12:00 PM

In the wake of the tragic crash that caused Dan Wheldon’s unfortunate passing, the IndyCar Series has decided to remove the Las Vegas race from its 2012 schedule. 2011 was the first year Las Vegas Speedway’s oval was used for open-wheel racing since 2005, and a massive 15-car accident was the result, involving the death of Dan Wheldon (above).

Currently officials have been testing at the Vegas track to see what can be done, if anything, to make the oval safer. But for now, IndyCar plans to stay away from the track.

[Source: Autoblog]

 |  Oct 26 2011, 9:45 AM

danwheldonmemorialauction.png

In light of talented racing driver Dan Wheldon’s tragic death, and the family he has left behind, fellow racing driver Graham Rahal first announced that he would auction off the helmet, gloves, and shoes worn during the Las Vegas 300 to raise money to help the Wheldon family through this difficult time.

Following Rahal by example, an outpouring of collective support from athletes, and Eric Gazin of Auction Cause, came together to create the Charity eBay Auction in memory of IZOD IndyCar Series Champion Dan Wheldon. 100 percent of all proceeds from this auction will be donated to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund.

Launched October 24th, each item listed on the Dan Wheldon Memorial Auction will be open for bidding for approximately ten days. A particularly popular item on the list, a NASCAR helmet worn by Jimmie Johnson, is already up to $13,500!

Soon to follow, accomplished racing driver and star from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, Patrick Dempsey, will auction his Mazda racing suit as well. By following Graham Rahal’s twitter, you can keep track of more upcoming motorsport memorabilia soon to be available at the auction.

Athletes and celebrities are not the only people that can help. Eric Gazin encourages anyone to offer an item to the Dan Wheldon Memorial Auction, with any portion of the eventual selling price donated to the cause at the seller’s discretion.

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.

 |  Oct 18 2011, 5:00 PM

Dan Wheldon was one of the driving forces behind the new-for-2012 Indy Car chassis, completing countless laps in pre-season testing.

But with Wheldon’s tragic death at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16th looming over the series, chassis maker Dallara has decided to honor Wheldon by naming the 2012 chassis after him.

“Dan lives in the memory of everybody at Dallara. He has been a true champion; not only because of his many victories, but and above everything else, because he has been a true and warm man to all the people he encountered,” said company boss Gianpaolo Dallara.

Wheldon achieved all 16 of his victories with a Dallara chassis. The official name of the car has yet to be announced.

[Source: Autosport]

 |  Oct 16 2011, 6:17 PM

Finishing runner up two years in a row, Dan Wheldon topped the podium at the Indy 500 earlier this year. Wheldon’s life ended tragically today during the final race of the 2011 IndyCar season.

The British-born driver of the Bryan Herta Autosport car was involved in a terrifying 15 car accident during the Las Vegas 300. Airlifted to hospital he eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Wheldon’s career highlights include another Indy 500 win back in 2005.

Born in 1978 Wheldon leaves behind his wife Susie Behm (whom he married in 2008), as well as his two sons, Sebastian (born on February 1 2009) and Oliver (born March 19th of this year). Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.

 |  Oct 16 2011, 5:15 PM

In NASCAR they always talk about “The Big One”. But it was this weekend’s series finale of the IndyCar Series that saw a catastrophic crash totaling 15 cars. Included in the mess was Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon who suffered what could be serious injuries and has been airlifted to hospital.

Other drivers involved in the pile-up that saw several vehicles take flight at 200-mph include James Jakes, Wade Cunningham, Paul Tracy, Vitor Meira, JR Hildebrand, Townsend Bell, Jay Howard, Tomas Scheckter, Charlie Kimball, EJ Viso, Alex Lloyd, Pippa Mann, Will Power and Buddy Rice.

***UPDATE: Dan Wheldon has died. Click here for full story ***

Watch the video after the jump:

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 |  May 31 2011, 4:49 PM

The outrageously dramatic last lap of the Indianapolis 500 will be talked about for years to come. JR Hildebrand, in a freak accident lost first place and $1.5 million in the last mile of the race. On the final turn of the last lap Hildebrand, overtook a slower car and slammed into the safety wall, allowing Dan Wheldon to win the Indy 500 on the 100th anniversary of the race.

Wheldon received $2,567,255 for his victory while Hildebrand coasted his dying race car into second place to win $1,064,895.

“It came down to a split-second decision,” Hildebrand said. “Am I going to go for it here and go around and try to make this work on the high side, or am I going to risk slowing down significantly in into a corner to stay behind the 83 (Charlie Kimball), who was trying to get out of the way as much as possible? But it is, as Mr. Unser so eloquently put it, a one-groove track.”

Hildebrand said he learned a hard lesson about racing that day and can be seen very clearly in the video.

“Sometimes, this race, you need a little luck,” he said. “The stars need to be aligned for you to go through 500 miles, and it was not our day.”

Watch the spectacular win after the jump!

Continue Reading…