“I Was Almost Part of It”- Danica Patrick Divulges Scary Details Behind 2011s Spine-Chilling Crash That Claimed Dan Wheldon’s Life

Published 12/29/2023, 6:44 AM EST

Follow Us

via Imago

Dale Earnhardt’s tragic accident is often remembered as one of NASCAR’s darkest moments. Yet, there have been other incidents that have left an indelible mark on the sport and its fans. One such heart-wrenching event was the untimely passing of Indy Racing League’s Dan Wheldon. His life was tragically cut short in a catastrophic 15-car pile-up, a crash that Danica Patrick narrowly escaped, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s League World Championship on October 16, 2011.

America’s Favorite Video Today

Reflecting on this solemn memory, Danica Patrick recently opened up about the chilling details of that fateful day. She recounted how her car just barely avoided being caught in the initial domino effect of the crash. In her candid talk, Patrick also shed light on the harsh reality of motorsports like NASCAR or IndyCar. She pointed out that in the heat of such high-octane races, expecting drivers to always play nice with each other is a tall order.

Danica Patrick compares the tragic accident to a movie scene

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

IndyCars, with their open wheels and cockpits, aren’t really cut out for the close-quarters racing seen on ovals. It’s a stark contrast to NASCAR, where cars are often trading paint lap after lap. In IndyCar, even the slightest touch can lead to a disaster.

Watch This Story: I Am Not a Liberal Danica Patrick Publicly Defends Her Political Stance

Trending

Get instantly notified of the hottest NASCAR stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

Back in 2011, when the race kicked off in Vegas, the crowded 34-car lineup was jostling for position, something that the officials didn’t quite anticipate despite warnings from the drivers. Patrick, who was running close to where the unfortunate pile-up occurred, recalled how she narrowly escaped with her life. “And then my very last race in Las Vegas when I was full time in IndyCar before I went to NASCAR, Dan Wheldon was killed on lap 11. And I was almost part of it. I remember feeling like I really obviously want to do win my last race. […] I went out there and… I was, we’re starting lap 11, and this car came in front of me and just like cut me off.”

Comparing the unreal crash before her to a movie scene, Patrick said, “And that car in front of me was part of this enormous crash in turns one and two that killed Dan. And it was like a movie scene. There were just chunks of bodywork on fire, there were just cars everywhere. It truly looked like a Hollywood movie scene from ‘A Race’.”

Dan Wheldon’s car was sent flying 325 feet into the air before crashing into a catch fence, where a tragic impact took his life. Even though Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon had their share of competitive rivalry on the track, she holds a deep respect and a special place in her heart for her late friend and fellow driver. The duo even got into a heated exchange on and off the racetrack once.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Dan Wheldon’s stern warning to Danica Patrick

Remember the time Dan Wheldon bluntly told Danica Patrick she was barking up the wrong tree? Flashback to 2007 at the IndyCar race in Milwaukee, where the rivalry between Patrick and Wheldon really heated up. Things got so intense that Patrick pushed the Chip Ganassi Racing driver and had a heated exchange with him post-race.

During an interview later on, Wheldon didn’t mince words, warning Patrick about her actions. On the track, things had gotten dicey when Wheldon made a sudden move, diving inside and forcing Patrick off her line, causing her to lose momentum and fall back in the pack. The tension boiled over after the race. Patrick, steaming, decided to confront Wheldon. He barely gave her the time of day, but that didn’t stop her from giving him a shove before walking off.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

“Messing With the Wrong Person” – Danica Patrick Was Once Reprimanded and Sent a Warning by Dan Wheldon During an IndyCar Race

In his post-race interview, Wheldon made it clear: “She’s (Danica) messing with the wrong person if she wants to get feisty that’s for sure because I’m a lot tougher than she is on track.” Regardless of whether they were friends or foes on the track, Danica Patrick holds a deep sense of empathy for Wheldon’s family and friends.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

884Articles

One take at a time

Controversies, gossip, and breakneck speeds? Count me in! While F1 has its charm, NASCAR helps me relive those "Roadrash" gaming days. My favorite among the drivers has to be Tyler Reddick. The 23XI Racing pilot is not only likable but also a complete beast when he is on track, more specifically, road courses.
Show More>

Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

EDITORS' PICK

America’s Favorite Video Today