Monday, October 17, 2011

IndyCar Special: Tragedy In Las Vegas

Marty Reid was leading the ESPN on ABC IndyCar production team into the final race of the season in Las Vegas, NV. Under sunny skies, the race started and then stopped in short order on Sunday afternoon.

Less than 15 laps in, a two-car spin turned into mayhem. Unfortunately, the entire thing was shown on national TV. At high speeds, several cars joined the existing pack of spinning cars and were promptly vaulted into the air and ultimately into the catch fence and SAFETY barrier.

Reid has been in this situation before and has extensive experience working on the IndyCar Series. He slowly allowed the reality to play-out while keeping the viewers informed. The director carefully showed the drivers who were out of their cars and walking away.

Television motorsports has a mode that is rarely used. It was quickly apparent that the ESPN team moved into this mode almost right away. They had good reason to do so. In the TV truck, the producer and director can see all the cameras. It was clear from the reaction of the first responders that one driver was very seriously injured.

Dan Wheldon had been working on some TV telecasts this season as he was unable to get a fulltime ride in the series. For this race, he was added as a special driver as part of a bonus program offering extra money should he win the event.

Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr. were the analysts in the TV booth and immediately struck a somber tone. They both answered the questions put to them by Reid, but it was clear they were also in the protective mode due to the possibility of severe driver injury.

The pit reporters talked to a wide variety of drivers. All of them basically told the tale of a series racing on an oval that had a strong potential for trouble. Some made their words stronger than others, but all acknowledged the issue.

After the red flag, ABC remained live. ESPNEWS programming was not used and no SportsCenter studio inserts updated any other sports highlights and scores. It was well after 5:30PM when Reid told viewers a driver's meeting was in progress.

Reporter Jamie Little was sent to the Las Vegas University Hospital to follow-up on information. In today's world, that is not something that is released without approval from the family. Viewers were told repeatedly she was standing by.

Social media relayed a lot of information, but ultimately stalled at the same point as the live telecast. The two issues were Weldon's condition and if the race would resume. ESPN repeated basically the same short segment of recapping the information and having the analysts offer an opinion or two before returning to commercial.

ABC was scheduled to leave the air at 6PM ET. Just minutes before that time, IndyCar delivered the news that Wheldon had been fatally injured in the accident. It had been pretty clear in the thirty minutes leading up to it that the situation was dire.

After the announcement, ESPN replayed the accident from multiple angles. It was a decision I do not agree with, but understand. In today's world, withholding that type of footage is impossible. Reid, Cheever and Goodyear handled it with dignity.

TV stayed and covered the five lap salute that the drivers and owners decided to do to close the season. It was a long time from the accident to the close of the program. ESPN announcers, staff and technicians did a solid job under difficult circumstances.

IndyCar ends the season on an awful note. Wheldon was the test driver who helped to develop the new and safer car the series will use next year. He had recently done a very successful stint as a TV analyst and was added to this field as a promotion spearheaded by IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard.

This is just a special post to allow motorsports fans to offer comments on the coverage and how this telecast may have affected you. On a day with no NASCAR, some folks like me were looking around the dial and found this race on ABC.


Sam said...

I was watching this today and the instant I saw that huge crash I had that burning feeling deep in my gut. Three cars in the air at the same time, flames, pieces everywhere. What really made me understand the severity of the crash is when they showed the in car camera of one of the cars who drove thru (maybe Dario?) the aftermath and it looked like a war zone.

I'm in a somber mood after watching that. I have two small children who didn't understand it so I didn't watch the 5 lap tribute, but that was a nice gesture.

ESPN and Marty, Eddie and Scott handled that as best they could.

RIP Dan Wheldon

WickedJ said...

What can be said? He was a talented driver. Youd have to be to make it in that series

RIP Dan.

Kenn Fong said...


How quickly do you think Marty Reid and the whole ABC crew knew the inevitable news and had to hold off until it was official?


WickedJ said...

@Ken, id say they knew a decent while before they told us. You could hear Scott and Eddie breaking up while they spoke of Dan.

Kenn Fong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Loose Wheel said...

I have not cried like this in years. I actually forgot about the race but the second I saw a friend post concern for Dan on facebook I immediately turned to ABC and never left. From the get go the situation appeared dire. From watching Davey Hamilton get emotional, Danica being consoled, to Tony Kannan bawl his eyes out I just can't find the words. The images said it all. The broadcast crew did their best to hold back footage until they knew what they were up against. Like you JD, I was a little surprised they showed the footage but it is what it is. Marty was at his best handling this very difficult situation.

I for one will miss a personality like Dan Wheldon tremendously. All thoughts and prayers are with his entire family right now.

This really puts the entire reality of the danger of motorsports to light.

Cangal said...

It's horrific tragedies such as this in the world of high performance racing, how within seconds a life can be taken. No matter how safe equipment, walls, barriers, fences etc. it can happen and well happen. My thoughts and prayers are with the family left behind, especially Dan's wife and young children. I thought the 5 lap tribute and coverage by ABC was excellent. I sat in tears as I watched the tribute. Even though you don't know the person personally, we are joined together through pain and loss.

Anonymous said...

I was very very impressed by how Marty Reid handled the seemingly endless wait for the final news.

Thank you, Marty.


Anonymous said...

It's all I watched this afternoon. So incredibly sad. This is just a terrible day for racing families and fans everywhere.

I thought the coverage was good considering the circumstances.

Unknown said...

Once the accident happened and the way the announcers kept talking, I knew it was not good. I had flashbacks back to February 2001 when Earnhardt died. I was not an Earnhardt fan but my heart just sank when he passed. I felt the same emotion today.

I applaud IndyCar for the 5 laptop tribute. When they played 'Amazing Grace', I just lost it. Not because of the song itself but because Dan, like myself, is a father of 2 young kids. I feel for his wife and family.

I also applaud Marty, Eddie, and Scott for their professionalism in the way they handled this.

RIP Dan Whedlon

Kenn Fong said...

late add--

One of my friends is a young journalist who had his first Indy credentials this season and covered a race earlier this season. He said that Wheldon was very kind and helpful and chatted informally with him about his desire just to be in a racecar.

RIP Dan Wheldon

Roadgeek Adam said...

I've had to go stand around. Tears ran down my face watching the 5 lap tribute. It's been 10 years since I've had to watch the announcement of a driver's death, and I was 9 at that time, I'm 20 now and I still feel the same.

Wheldon was a great driver, he will be missed and it just hurts to have the IndyCar series end on a solemn note for the third time in 11 years (Greg Moore in 99, Scott Kallita in 05). Just need to be silent for a while.

Marty was very calm and collected and sounded like the person he should have been. I had a bad feeling the anniversary weekend of the Blaise Alexander fatal crash would go bad some point. Just that feeling. It didn't happen at Charlotte, it didn't happen in NASCAR. It hurts when you have that bad feeling.

My thoughts and prayers are with Wheldon's family and it should be honored for such a great driver. Rest in Peace.

Anonymous said...

I should have known the outcome when I saw the destroyed pod coming down the track after the wreck. It was an angle they never showed again until after his death was announced. My heart hurts for his family.

Marty may bungle a lot during NASCAR coverage, but he got it right today, especially with his moving sign off. I can' stop crying.

Jason N said...

I have a new found respect for Marty Reed and the tasteful and respectful way he controlled the chaos that is this sad moment in the world of motorsports

Buschseries61 said...

I hurt so badly right now after watching that. I remember watching his amazing win at Indy this summer and sharing that moment with everyone here.

I feel horrible for Wheldon's family and everyone involved in IndyCar. I can't believe such an amazing opportunity for him turned into this. I'm in awe of the drivers running those 5 laps at the end. Turn 2 was just chilling to see from my chair.

I have no idea how IndyCar will recover from this. They had enough problems, this is just gut wrenching.

Marty Reid did an outstanding job handling the situation. As much as I have criticized him in the past (ironically his call of the Indy finish), I respect him so much after today. Moments like this help me remember how fragile life is.

God bless Dan Wheldon, his family, friends, and the remaining hospitalized drivers.

The Loose Wheel said...

Yes. Marty Reid's sign off will stay with me forever. He is a class act and really said it right.

Thank you as well JD for putting this up.

glenc1 said...

I know we've bashed Marty a lot, but he, Eddie & Scott did a great job today. It's a hard juggling act to keep talking when you have very little new to add. And the reporters did okay too, even Jamie, they all seemed to be trying really hard to use the right words, be respectful and informative.

When they showed Danica crying...that's when I feared the worst. I saw Tony Kanaan at a fan event a few years back and he was so nice, I felt awful for him.

On a personal note, I was at the Glen the year Wheldon clinched his championship there. While I was not a fan, I remember how they interviewed his parents and how excited they were. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family & friends. Every time this happens I hope we never have to see it again...but I know we probably will.

Delenn said...

Just got back from Silverstone to hear this. There are times like this I hate motorsport.
Met him a few years ago during a test day at Indianapolis. Amongst loads of American voices, I was a lone Brit, and we had quite a talk.
A seriously nice guy. I am so upset.
RIP Dan.

KoHoSo said...

There will be a lot to be said about the on-track conditions that led to this tragedy. Now is not the time for that, but know that it is coming down the road.

I will not be a hypocrite and say I have become a fan of Marty Reid. However, despite one glaring but completely accidental and understandable error in his choice of words at one point in reminding us that Wheldon had started "dead last," the manner and tone set by Reid along with Cheever and Goodyear was exemplary.

On Twitter, I questioned the use of the replay quite early as the event in my view had already taken a tone all too similar to a day in 1999 when I was present in Fontana for the loss of Greg Moore. It is those replays that I quibble with. In the later one when the announcement was official, while terrible, I don't think they had any choice other than to show it...and, in doing so, Reid gave the proper warning beforehand.

As one that loves both IndyCar and NASCAR along with Formula 1, this is a terrible day. While I do not want to lose sight of how Wheldon's children no longer have a father, I must also point out that this is a huge blow to IndyCar to have its last event end in tragedy on top of a year filled with rock-bottom ratings and the loss of its biggest name brand. I am wondering at this point if IndyCar will survive more than two more seasons which I find almost as sad as losing Wheldon.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
ESPN/ABC handled this tragic situation with respect and good taste ...kudos to the network for staying with the story ...and yes, it was apparent in the voices of Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear a good outcome was not to be expected ...Marty Reid was the right man to lead the coverage ...RIP - Dan Wheldon


AncientRacer said...

Ours is a dangerous sport. Last night I feared for Jimmie until he walked away and today we lost Dan Wheldon.

All day long I have been thinking about how eerily similar Jimmie's wreck was to Dale Sr's, but how the improvements since 2001 likely saved him.

Today the rest of the memories came back as the chain of events following the incident in Las Vegas was also eerily familiar.

It is a sad day in the world of motorsports.

Daniel Vining said...

Being a motorsports writer, and a life long fan of the sport, I am truly saddened by what's happened today. Words cannot express the sorrow and emotion that is reeling in the hearts and minds of everyone in our community.

I have been conflicted today. Conflicted by the actions of myself, the core of motorsports journalists, and by the emotion of this tragic event.

Sure, undoubtedly I feel terrible for what has happened. I know that sometimes there are more important things than racing. While I completely respect the decision to end the race, I would have been just as excited to see the race completed, in Dan's honor.

The other side of me sees the importance of the moment in time. This being a media-centric news blog, I feel comfortable in saying this... more so than on Twitter.

As journalists, I feel that any and all journalists on duty at Las Vegas needed to document every stitch of audio and imagery possible. Not because I am voyeuristic, but because as journalists, we are the people that document history. I am appalled at anyone that says that we should, or should not, snap a photo or record a quote. Capture the content now, then later, decide what is fit to print or air.

Beyond history, it's important to document as much as possible because those sights and sounds, although hard to bare, can and will help make this sport safer for the next group of drivers.

I was accosted numerous times today for trying to urge the media to gather all they could, even if it's hard. That was a hard pill to swallow, and I know I angered some, and lost followers as well.

On a positive note, ABC/ESPN did a remarkable job doing just what I have been championing all day long. They gathered all the information they could, sorted it, and presented the best representation possible without dishonoring the situation in anyway. Kudos.

The tribute at the end of the broadcast was perhaps a moment that will rival most in sports history. Much like when Dale Earnhardt won the 1998 Daytona 500, when teams lined the edge of pit road... IndyCar teams did so once again today, as the remaining cars in the field paraded the track for five laps honoring Dan.

The loss of Dan Wheldon is a loss to the entire community. We will be missed, and never forgotten. May his death not come in vein, but instead, let us learn from what has happened and make the sport that we love and live that much better.

R.I.P Dan Wheldon. Champion. (1978-2011)

NorCalFan said...

A very sad day for the sport of racing. I couldn't help but think if Danica at some point was reliving the instances when she ripped Dan Wheldon's driving ability in front of the media. It was heartwrenching to see the drivers and teams members visably upset and shaken by the news of Dan's death. I thought the ESPN broadcast team handled the situation with dignity and respect for the Wheldon family. The 5-lap tribute had me in tears.

I was impressed with Dan as an analyst in the booth for the 3 Indy races he did on Versus this year. I had him pegged for a broadcast career after he retired from driving.

RIP Dan Wheldon. As a fellow Brit, I will miss you.

Roland said...

Im devastated. It takes a lot to make a grown man cry but I just cant stop the tears. What a guy. What a driver. What a person.

I started watching racing 13 years ago. Back then somebody was killed every week whether it was Nascar or IRL or NHRA. I was a little kid at the time. It didnt register with me. I was old enough to understand the impact of the loss of Dale Sr. I was a huge fan at the time too. Today is the first time since that day that Ive felt this way.

I knew as soon as the wreck happend how bad it was. I screamed something to the affect of Oh My God so loud my mother who was outside came running in. She doesnt know much about racing, so my job for the last 3 hours was to explain everything. I knew once I saw the tarp what the outcome would be.

Im a person that has a hard time showing grief. Im usually the rock whenever my family or friends are in a time of grief. Just in this past year Ive lost 2 people I graduated high school with 3 years ago. Today I am not that rock. Today I am heartbroken beyond belief.

Ive been watching Indycar since Ive been watching Nascar. Dan had so much talent, so much skill. He had that swagger of a champion. I just cant believe we will never see that smile again.

I do need to say this. I bag on Marty Reid all the time, but that man handled the situation today with professionalism, class, and honor. I cant imagine having to fill 2 hours of time knowing what the outcome would be. The Espn crew should be commended for their efforts today. I sincerely thank them for staying past the scheduled time. And I thank you Marty, Scott, Eddie, Vince, Rick, and Jamie for your effort today.

I always hated the sound of bagpipes. After today, every time I hear amazing grace Im gonna remember that smile. What a loss.

Thank you for this outlet JD.

Pete Pistone said...

I may not be welcome here given our sometimes differences of opinions but thank you John for putting this post together and for all of you for your posts and thoughts. This is obviously a very tragic day for the entire world of motorsports and in a very difficult situation I commend the entire ABC team and particularly Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever for how they handled an incredibly difficult task. I urge all of you to pray for the Wheldon family and to hug your loved ones especially close tonight. Thank you.

Pete Pistone

Sophia said...

As soon as I saw the horrific crash/number of cars, I got bad feeling. When they REPLAYED Dan Wheldon's in car cam, and it broke w tire coming at it...I kind of knew something tragic had happened.

The technical difficulties not once but TWICE when Randy B tried to announce the death was embarrassing.

However being on twitter, I knew a good 30 minutes before then. Max Papis said he would miss Dan did a couple other people.

Ashley Judd allegedly sent a tweet before his then was labled a fake by others. It let to her verified act but was deleted when I got there. I'm guessing maybe she has a ghost tweeter and they didn't know nobody else knew?

It was very heartbreaking to see Dario sobbing in jos car before the final laps & Amazing Grace made me sob all over again.

I said to my housemate hours ago "I bet the news breaks on Twitter long before the television". Indeed, it did.

It was painful to watch tv DELAY the news to the tv viewers.

I also think this track should NEVER have an Indycar race again. There was concern by drivers before the race of speeds at this small track.

Also, if I am not mistaken, ESPN/ABC replayed Dan's in car cam long before we knew his condition?

Then we saw many bursting into tears before the driver meeting.

I guess it was handled ok but with the day of SM, it's sad TV was so slow behind the timeline.

I understand the family needs to give permission for such info to be made public. Either way, it was a tragic ending to a young man's life.

The $5 million should go to his family. He'd not had a sponsor this year and left 2 kids and a wife.

R.I.P. Dan Wheldon

May Indycar learn from this horrible wreck.

PammH said...

When the wreck happened, I was screaming at the TV for the guy who's car was on fire to GET OUT!!Then I saw some very disturbing tweets, esp by Tomas Schekter (sp). And my stomach starting hurting the more I read. The booth was outstanding & I'm sure they knew waaay before we were told. But Max Papis let it out abut 10 mins before the official announcement. I just bawled from that point on. My cats were flipping out, because I don't cry often. My heart just breaks for his family & everyone who knew him. Thanks soooo much for giving us a place to share JD. It just hurts...:(

boyd said...

Being a motorsports photographer, this ia a very hard day.

You see and meet the competitors, strike up conversations, and sometimes become friends with them.

Dan Wheldon was a very easy one to get to know, and spoke with us quite often.

As a member of the racing family, I have to admit I shed some tears.


PDXLeelaB said...

I want to thank Marty Reid and company for the way they handled this tragedy. ABC/ESPN held it together when most of us feared what they must have known. I have not cried this much in years. Rest in peace Dan Wheldon, you will be missed.

Anonymous said...

@Pete Pistone

You are correct, I usually ignore you. But, I commend you for your comments today on TDP.

It's a sad day for all race fans.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Taking your comments today on the tough situation in Las Vegas and the difficult circumstances faced by Marty Reid and the ESPN TV team.

MustangMarkF said...

This is not going to be a popular post. This is going to make me more foes than friends.

I have been watching motorsport since I was 4 years old. In that time I have seen many motorsport greats pass both on the track and off of it. In addition to that Im British and have watched Dan in the flesh since his Formula Ford days. I can even count myself lucky enough to have met him and seen that infrectious grin for myself.

All that said I cannot remember a race being canceled after the death of a participant in any formula. Dan was a racer 1st foremost and almost all. (His love for his family obviously took first place in his life) So why was this race canceled and a 5 lap trbute run in its place?

I am very sure that no one wanted to either watch or run in a race after such a tragedy. But its not any different to the equally tragic loss of life we experienced with Patrick Carpentier, Senna, Earnhart or any other of the great racers we have lost over the years.

Indeed those race were continued, and in the case of Senna at Imola we lost 2 racers and gained some severely injured spectators in the crowd during the 1 race weekend. Yet out of respect to those departed, we finished the race as a mark of respect to that which was foremost to those we have lost- Motorsport.

As far as coverage goes - here in the UK Sky Sports ended their coverage of the race before the tribute from the drivers- that to me was unforgivable and indicative of the Murdoch empire. However there was also some of the most heart wrenching TV Ive ever seen/heard.

The programme takes the US feed but fill in about half of your numerous advert breaks with studio discussion over continuous race pictures. This is hosted by Keith Hewen and 2 experts - today one of those was (somehwat failed) indycar driver and friend of Dan's - Johnny Mowlem. When the seriousness of the accident became apparent Johnny became upset to the extent that the station had to cut away from the studio shot to the live feed from the US. However, when the death was announced, we the viewer could hear Johnny bawling his heart out over the body worn mikes of the other presenters. How anyone could have not joined in is beyond me - I know I did.

However, no matter how gut wrenching that was - the race should have carried on - what does it say about those great gutsy and wonderful heros who have sadly passed on whose deaths weren't marked by canceling the race? They were racers - remember them as they were... Heroes.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if I put it this way....not trying to create controversy on a tragic day. But TV doesn't have the luxury of being inaccurate or ahead of what the family is told (we all know examples of that in the past); they have to play by the rules of journalism. ABC did just that, and did it well. If they were 'behind' the real timeline, sorry, but I don't think that's important. Kudos to ABC for its professionalism.

GinaV24 said...

I was traveling back from the race in Charlotte today so I didn't see any TV until I sat down to watch the news when I got home. I was watching ABC and they announced the news at the top of the hour.

The replays of the accident were very hard to watch.

I wasn't a regular follower of the Indycar series, but I feel terrible about Weldon's life being lost.

I'm sure there are no words to give any comfort to his family, but I am sorry for their loss.

JB said...

What a horrific day for the racing community. ABC/ESPN handled it with class most of the way and I too give Marty credit where it's due for quarterbacking the WORST situation a racing broadcast crew can deal with.

I've always been more of a NASCAR fan, but Wheldon was a larger than life personality on and off the track. This is how I'll remember him:

My prayers to his family. When you get to heaven, tell Dale Sr. we say hello :')

Zetona said...

This is not the first time Marty Reid's been in a situation like this, unfortunately. He called Geoff Bodine's Daytona wreck in 2000 and Larry Pearson's Bristol wreck last year. This wreck was on another level altogether, and he did a magnificent job. His sign-off comments in particular were incredibly poignant.

Rest in peace, Dan Wheldon, and thank you, Marty Reid, for your excellent, measured, and tasteful reporting on a very tragic day.

Sophia said...

P.S. I do want to add the CLOSING photo & "Good-bye Dan" was poignant and made me sob all over again.

p.s.s. i think they canceled the race due to the monumental crash that it was, taking out 12 cars, or was it 15?

+ happening way too early. Also some witnessed Dan's crash/in trauma center, & disturbe. AND Dario had the series wrapped up so why race today? Least that's my 2 cents. Dale Sr died close to the finish line on last lap.

Also long before the announcers were "allowed to announcement" Goodyear and other announcer were sounding and LOOKING extremely somber and stricken. I commend them for what they had to do. Didn't mean to be dissing on them.

i also hope GoDaddy gives the $5mill to Wheldon's fam since it was a bad idea to have him start in the back (wasn't it?) and race for the win. Money won't bring him back of course, but many seem to feel this way.

Anonymous said...

I was watching the race today because Nascar didnt have a race on. I am in shock still. So sorry for his family. I always hoped Dan Wheldon would come to Nascar. There was something about him that I just loved. Kind of like with Dale Jr. Praying his family will be okay.

glenc1 said...

Mustang MarkF...thanks for the UK perspective. I was a bit surprised myself...but on Speed Report, they said the drivers who were closest to Dan were the ones in *favor* of racing; that that's what Dan would have wanted (I'm assuming that probably means it was Kanaan & Franchitti.) I suspect the feelings about the safety of the racing there as it unfolded and all the circumstances made some of them feel uncomfortable, and since the championship was already decided...they'd rather not (especially since they figured the fans would probably understand). I can't fault either opinion, but I don't think it makes those you speak of less respected.

And thank you for sharing the broadcasting story, since we could never experience that. People forget that these guys are real people with feelings sometimes.

RPM said...

My deepest condolences to Dan Wheldon's family and friends.

Sally said...

After waiting 2 hours for the news most of us were waiting for with dread...ABC missed the announcement. I found it interesting that we only got to hear it in replay. I appreciate that the announcers had to wait for official word, but would it have been out of line to for them to say Wheldon had serious injuries to prepare viewers better? I thought the announcing team did a great job keeping it together while they obviously knew what the outcome was. A sad day for racing, and my heart goes out to his family.

DaveM4210 said...

Just saw tweets from @IndyCar saying that Will Power was treated and released from the hospital. Pippa Mann and JR Hildebrand are awake and alert, and being held overnight for further evaluation.

Pippa Mann was injured a couple months ago and had to sit out a few races to recover.

Unknown said...

Thanks John for the opportunity to share. I met Dan the morning after the Indy 500 at a presser and photoshoot. I brought my son Noah and have remarked on numerous occasions that Dan had a special thing going. He was so kind to my son, taking the time to ask him questions and get him engaged. All while having press to answer to and photographers to appease. I said to many on that day that I will be a fan of his through thick and thin. I thank God that Noah & I have that great memory to share....

TexasRaceLady said...

This is another Black Sunday in racing.

I'm so thankful that Marty, Scott, and Eddie were in the booth. They handled the waiting with calmness and professionalism.

I can fully understand the feelings of the drivers who wanted to continue, and the ones who wanted the race stopped. The tribute laps were a good compromise.

Dan Wheldon will be missed by all who loved racing.

I will say a pray for his family.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I have been very critical of the announcing this season by ESPN but I am officially eating my words. The coverage today and the Jobs done by the announcers was handled with grace dignity and heartfelt feelings. It was quite evident that the worse had happened when you saw crew members and drivers crying but Marty Reid took the helm and did a great job. My thoughts and prayers to the Wheldon family, Dan you will be missed. RIP

Bobby said...

After doing yard work today I came in and saw the INDYCAR race had been red-flagged, not knowing the seriousness. After our Sunday night Bible study, I learned of the tragedy. Horrifying.

Reading everyone's tweets tonight. I can't say anything else but thoughts and prayers to the Wheldons tonight.

Will said...

RIP Dan I hope you don't die in vain and much like Sr was for NASCAR in 01 this tragic day is the impetus for much needed safty changes in Indy car

Buschseries61 said...

I think Robin Miller brought up a good point on Wind Tunnel. Within the last decade, the view of death has changed in the motorsports world from a known presumption to a horrifying tragedy. It shows how much safety has improved across motorsports. But there will still always be this risk.

Anonymous said...

I was not able to watch the race due to some other things going on with me but am so sad to hear of Dan's passing.

I never had the pleasure of meeting him but he seemed to be such a sweetie! I tweeted him many times & answered about all of them!

I see the stories, watched the crash video, see the drivers tweets but still can't believe it.

I've seen many Indy Cars slam into the catchfence and you fear the worse, today that fear became reality :(.

@Sam yes it did look like a war zone :(

Very happy to read that LVMS is allowing fans with scanned tickets FULL refunds if they wish. It's bad enough when you watch it on TV couldn't imagine doing it AT the race :(.

RIP Dan :(

ChrisK said...

I'll add my kudos to the ABC/ESPN team for the way they handled this tragic situation, but during the tribute laps I kept thinking, "could somebody please gag the track announcer."

Thinking of his family and friends.

RIP Dan Wheldon

RWar24 said...

I think I'm still in a bit of shock from what happened today. I think in someways I'm a bigger IndyCar fan than Nascar. During Brickyard 400 practice this year, my wife and I was sitting at picnic table behind the pagoda. My wife notice that there was someone behind what used to be the F1 garages with a group of people around him. At first I couldn't tell who it was, but then I realized it was Dan Wheldon. So I grabbed my camera and walked that way. He was doing an interview and the interviewer was asking what he was doing there. He was there as a guest of one of the Cup drivers, but he said that he loves any event that involves the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After the interview was over, there were probably 20-25 people around. Quite a few was wanting an autograph from him and he signed one for everybody. I've been fortunate to have been in the garage area several times during the month of May for the 500. Many times I've seen Dan take the time to talk to fans and sign autographs. His interactions with fans and media was always genuine and regardless of the success he has had, he truly appreciated his great fortunes and always had a smile on his face. The racing community has lost a great competitor and IndyCar will feel his loss for many years to come. It's truly a sad day and one I won't forget. Godspeed Dan, it won't be the same without you.

DaveM4210 said...

Like so many others, I have been very critical of Marty Reid for his performance covering NASCAR races. But I have to say he Nailed It today. It was obvious that he and the rest of the broadcast team knew long before the official announcement that the worst had happened. Such news can't legally be released until all next of kin are notified. In this case, his parents were in England and there was another family member in North Carolina that had to be notified. That takes time, and considering the time zone differences, waiting 2 hours to make it public is probably not bad.

That being said, people on Twitter knew long before the official announcement. Ashley Judd, or maybe a PR person tweeting for her posted the news, and Max Papis tweeted about it. The Ashley Judd tweet was deleted, probably when it was realized the news could not yet be made public. I feel sorry for Ashley Judd having to deal with that.

Kudos to Adam Alexander, Ray Evernham, Dave Despain and Robin Miller on SPEED TV's Speed Center and Wind Tunnel for the way they handled the news.

For those complaining that the complete race should have been finished, under other circumstances, it probably would have been finished. If the incident only involved a normal length caution or brief redd flag stop, they might have finished the race. The red flag lasted so long because repairs had to be made not only to the catch fence and Safer Barrier, but also the track itself. One or more of the cars hit the track so hard that they made pot holes in the track. We all remember how long that kind of repair takes from a recent Daytona 500! After such a long red flag, I think the drivers and teams had a chance to build up emotions so strong that they could not safely finish the race. I know from reports that some drivers wanted to finish and some did not. Kudos to whomever made the decision to end the race with the 5 lap salute. That was I think the safest thing to do. It was a somber, solemn, grand and fitting salute to Dan Wheldon.

I will close proposing a toast to the memory of Dan Wheldon's life, his accomplishments in racing, and all the good times watching him race.


Michael Stoffel said...

Marty Reid was perfect today. Even though for over an hour nothing was going on, I couldn't turn the channel. And ABC's decision to mute the announcers for the 5 lap tribute was perfect. If only the track announcer had the tact to shut his trap also.
ABC did pop up the picture of Wheldon and his lifespan date seconds after his death was announced, meaning someone had it ready to go ahead of time. That's a bit tasteless.

DaveM4210 said...

Just saw this from Jamie Little on Twitter:
"Update: JR Hildebrand staying overnt in Hosp for eval, Pippa Mann burn on Rt hand, held over nt and surgery.Will Power, checkd and released."

Jonathan said...

Wow that was so sad. I turned this race on 30 min into the red flag as I was just waking up. I pretty much knew the worst when they showed Danica crying in garage area. So sad but I always wondered why these cars race or have raced at mile and half tracks with these speeds. Why dont they slow these cars down and protect the driver more?? Something needs to be done.

I tried as hard as I could to hold back tears when they made the announcement... Never followed Dan but this is still sad!


ChrisK said...

Final tweet on Dan Wheldon's Twitter account before it was closed out.


Wiresculptress said...

Spent the whole afternoon crying. Someday the powers-that-be at IndyCar will realize that IndyCars and high-banked superspeedways don't mix.

May Dan Wheldon rest in peace, and may his family and friends find peace.

If young TV announcers go thru some sort of training, they should be assigned to watch this broadcast, because Marty Reid, along with Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever, handled it tastefully and masterfully.

I believe the cancellation of the race and the 5-lap tribute were the right thing to do.

Thank you JD for allowing us this space to express our sorrow.

SnowdogBob said...

Marty and the ABC crew did an excellent job (I had to leave for work about 5 min before the announcement was made and just catching up on the broadcast now)

I can't imagine how it could have been handled better as a broadcast. I'm also glad they went back and replayed it.

RIP Dan,
Son, Husband, Father and Indy 500 Champion

Fed UP said...

RIP, Dan Wheldon.

We can never get back those we have lost, we can only move forward to prevent more of the same. Hopefully, this is a wakeup call to the powers that be that safety can never be overlooked. Never again will I complain about a "boring" race as long as everyone comes home and reunites with their loved ones.

Kudos to the ESPN crew for their very hard work on this day.

Dennis M said...

Marty, Eddie, and Scott did a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.

I could not believe the lack of respect from Indy Car in the timing of the announcement. Their TV partner and their fans had stood by for more than an hour. They could not delay the announcement by another two minutes so the TV cameras could get in to the room? Very poorly done.

Darcie said...

The entire Motorsports community mourns one of their own, even when it's in another venue. What was interesting to watch was Dave Despain's show when they discussed why they didn't finish the race. IMHO, the caller who said it was terrible that they canceled the race was so wrong. But I guess old timers and racing purists were really hacked off that they didn't continue the race.

I thought TV handled everything with dignity. We can only hope that this is the last driver to lose his/her life, but we all know the reality.

God bless Dan's wife and his two young sons.

Bill said...

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Wheldon family and to the greater motorsports family as well on this horrible day. Marty and the ESPN crew did a remarkable job under the worst of circumstances.

The last Indy car fatality was at Homestead in 2006, three years after the banking in the turns had been increased to facilitate the poorer-handling Cup cars, and supposedly improve the racing.

This "improvement" also greatly increased the speeds of the Indy cars. The Las Vegas track was also "improved" a few years ago for much the same reason.

225 mph speeds are bad enough at Indianapolis, but that much speed is pure insanity at a mile and a half racetrack.

Also consider that the SAFER barriers were designed to slow the impact of a 3500 lb. Cup car traveling at 180+ mph (thank God Jimmie was ok), but a tiny car that weighs half as much would probably tend to carom off (or up), as it is too lightweight, and the barrier too sturdy, for the impact force to be absorbed, even at a bone-chilling 225 mph.

And once again, it will take the untimely death of a great racecar driver to force the sport to make much needed changes. Isn’t it ironic that Wheldon himself was involved in the development of their own “Car of Tomorrow.”

Rest in Peace, Dan.

Brett said...

Don't Know if anyone was aware that ESPN2 simulcast the 5 lap tribute and then simulcast ESPNEWS coverage of the tradegy. ESPN handled today's situation with honor and dignity. Marty Reid and crew are a class act. I wish I had an email address to contact them at to thank them.

adamtw1010 said...

ESPN & ABC did an excellent job handling this terrible situation. I noticed watching a replay on YouTube that they were in-car with Wheldon right before the crash and they NEVER replayed from his in-car camera.

An absolute tragedy for IndyCar in so many ways. The only positive to come from this is they have the entire off-season to investigate, learn, and fix whatever they can to prevent further tragedies.

KoHoSo said...


First of all, I don't think anybody can ever make foes here on The Daly Planet as long as one's views are honest and well presented. We have all disagreed here at one time or another including with JD but, for the most part, have always been able to do it without being disagreeable.

I too was originally surprised that the race was not resumed. While not unheard of, it is certainly out of character for the sport where we often hear the reasoning of, "He would have wanted it that way."

However, in retrospect many hours later after taking a nap, having supper, and clearing my head about this whole thing, I think it might have been a wise decision in this case even if the reasoning by those that chose this path was not necessarily sound within the racing tradition.

To make my own statement that might make more than a few people cross with me, Las Vegas Motor Speedway is not a track that is fit for IndyCar racing in its current form. I did not realize that until the race began as it was a busy week for me and I followed very little of the build-up to the event. As the cars went through the first 12 laps, I quickly understood the tweet made by IndyCar blogger/reporter Tony Johns (@SBPopOffValve) posted just minutes before the green flag dropped:

A sudden sense of foreboding just washed over me. Hopefully baseless. Hope everyone is safe out there today.

The cars were swerving and touching as if this were a stock car event on a short track, and all with no room to maneuver. Yes, we've seen similar action at Texas but, for whatever reason, it seemed like the drivers were much more hemmed in. A bad wreck of some sort was inevitable especially with a field that was so equal in the mid-pack.

Even with 14 fewer cars, I believe that resuming this race could have easily resulted in a second or third tragedy. I especially say that after having reviewed several sets of photographs taken of the wreck at Las Vegas and seeing that this could have been much worse as it was probably mere inches here and there that kept us from also losing J.R. Hildebrand and Will Power.

I hope that either the new chassis being introduced in IndyCar for 2012 will be better suited for the track or that they will take a strong look at removing Las Vegas from next year's schedule and conclude the season at Fontana (where I live) or somehow get Chicagoland back which I thought was a great season-ending choice for this particular series.

Aside from wishing all of the best to Wheldon's family and friends, the thing I hope most of all right now is that IndyCar realizes the spotlight is on it right now in the most intense manner it has had in over 16 years and for none of the right reasons. They need to do their best to avoid the mistakes made during 2001 in the wake of Dale Earnhardt's death which, IMO, is one of the main roots of today's discontent with NASCAR as a sanctioning body.

WickedJ said...

Some random thoughts and comments

Its probably too early to ask but i'd like to know what exactly his injuries were and from there what can the IRL do to prevent it.

Regardless of the how, one thing that is needed is slow these cars down. the trucks run 170(ish) and put on a GREAT show at that very track which proves speed isnt needed for a great show(see:Richmond where IRL also runs)

Perhaps it should be addressed that the IRL stays away from this big tracks untill a good and safe solution is found

One thing i want to comment on and hope JD will allow it, Max Papis and Paul Tracy said on twitter that the 5 mil bonus should go to Dans kids. Dans death is horrible and tragic BUT why was there no outcry for Paul Dana's family to get some money? Dan Wheldon stepped into that racecar knowing full well what could happen. its the same thing Jensen Button, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Danica Patrick and John Force all know when they get into a racecar. You might not see the finish line. So in that i respectfully disagree, the money should go to whatever charity Dan supported and if he didnt then it should go to his wife's favorite charity

Daly Planet Editor said...

Taking your comments on Weldon's passing and the job Marty Reid and the ESPN TV team did on the telecast.

Hard to imagine more difficult circumstances, especially on broadcast network TV on a Sunday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

For people who believe the announcers knew about the death and had to keep quiet: I was at the track for work and was plugged into the internal producer radio feed.. They did not have any confirmation until Randy Bernard announced it.

WickedJ said...

It was kind of obvious the outcome after watching Danica break into tears and then TK just be all torn up

either way double A+ to Marty, Scott and Eddie. it hurt just to listen to Eddie Cheever try to talk about Dan and not just break down

Will put Talladega into a new light thats for sure

Anonymous said...

I was there...IndyCar could not wait 30 Seconds to let TV handle the Bernard Announcement. Horrible!!!!!!

Jonathan said...

Espn did a great job with Sports Center first segment was on Dan and it moved me... Such a shame and so young he had such a bright future ahead of him... Life is strange but just appreciate it as much as possible cause you never know when something can happen.

Phil Lee said...

Open wheel oval racing is just about the most dangerous form of motorsport. So much in an accident is out of the driver's control. I tuned in to the race seconds after the crash had happened, when they were still showing replays.

I have been watching motorsport since the early 80s and have seen two fatal accidents, Ayrton Senna's and Dale Earnhardt's. This was the worst accident I have seen. The in car view from Will Power's car shows the ferocity of the crash and the in car view from Danica Patrick's car shows how the drivers have no time to react. The crash happened in front of her and she has a fraction of a second to twitch the wheel before she was past it.

I used to watch IndyCar racing a lot but since cancelling my Sky Sports subscription I haven't watched any of the races this season. I was looking forward to watching this race on my iPad using my Dad's Sky account but sadly didn't get the chance.

Seeing the accident live then waiting the two hours for the inevitable news and watching the sad tribute from the drivers and Marty Reid's closing goodbye brought me to tears. The tone was perfect, sombre and respectful. I was surprised at how many times the replays were shown though.

I was also impressed by the coverage from Sky Sports and the sensitivity with which they handled the reactions of Johnny Mowlem. I was disappointed they ended the programme just before the 5 lap tribute run.

I had difficulty sleeping last night and feel the same this morning. It is making me question why I enjoy watching motorsport. Why do I put people in the position of risking their lives for my entertainment? My heart goes out to his wife and espeially to his 2 year old and 7 month old sons who will never know their Daddy.

Delenn said...


I wanted to respond a little to MustangMarkF with respect to Sky Sports.

In my opinion, Sky Sports made some really bad choices today.

1. Johnny was obviously very distraught. What the hell were they doing not getting him out of the studio? Get him off camera and mic, let him compose himself, and then return him to air only if he feels he is able to do this. Appauling behaviour by the director/producer, any one of whom should have got him out of the studio.

2. If Sky Sports own people were unable to carry on with the broadcast, just let ESPN do it. Pad with commercials/trailers whatever if you have to, but Sky going off air before the tribute was an even worse piece of judgement. After all, Dan Wheldon is British.

I know it was a difficult day for Sky, but it was a difficult day for everyone. ESPN didn't go off air. Sky should not have too.

Another couple of points. Patrick Carpentier didn't die. Greg Moore did. Same livery though.

In terms of the race carrying on, I am happy to let the drivers decide. Many of them were obviously distraught - I would have preferred them not to race than risk another big accident because of the mind being elsewhere.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Don said...

Ironically, Indy fans have been very critical of the rear fenders on next year's car which are designed to prevent fly-overs.

Once I saw the tarp over Dan's car while it sat on the track I knew that it was very bad. ABC flubbed the announcement and we had a minute or two of driver's walking to their cars without knowing the solemnity of the report, but they quickly resolved it.

I wasn't happy about the (multiple)
replays of the accident at the end but people would have found them on the net anyway.

Don said...

This is a separate topic so I'll place it alone.

My carrier screwed up the sound for the race and all of the announcing was stripped off. I had sound from the track and the commercials were fine but all ABC audio was deleted.

I enjoyed it that way until the wreck made it obvious that I needed to hear more. The sound of the wreck playing out in natural sound reinforced the solemnity of the event.

Fortunately I found live feeds online that had sound and my TV signal returned to normal with about 30 minutes left in the broadcast.

To that point, there had been many positives about watching a race and hearing noting but cars and fans. The graphics told me all that I needed to know. Indycar races are usually only two hours, I'm not sure it would have worked as well with NASCAR.

Vicky D said...

I thought Marty Reid & ABC handled this tragedy quite well. What I was disappointed with was the announcement from Randy Bernard. It seemed like ABC needed to get their commercials in instead of broadcasting his whole statement then the mic wouldn't work too.

Don said...

It should also be noted that they were at Las Vegas in an attempt to revive the series. It was not a normal race hosted by promoters and for which diligence would have been paid to determine the appropriateness of the venue.

Indycar rented that track because they needed a major destination for the finale. It was all paid for from Indycar's pocket and they will take a huge loss that they can ill afford because of this tragedy.

They were lucky to get this broadcast on network TV and needed the visibility. It can be argued both ways whether three hours of talking heads helped the cause any.

MustangMarkF said...

In Reply to Delenn :

Yes I completely agree with you re the mistakes of Sky Sports. Johnny should have left the studio and only returned when he felt able - Though they did keep the camera off of him during his worst moments. It was still gut wrenching TV tho.

Sorry yes I stand corrected it was Greg Moore I meant - well remembered :)

Anonymous said...

JD I respectfully disagree with your feeling that showing the replay of the wreck was inappropriate. Heck, your personal experience in television says that audiences come and go minute by minute, and by the time the announcement was official, thousands of new viewers had not seen what occurred.
It seemed clear to me that the booth knew very early on that the news was as bad as it could be. They tried to put a hopeful spin on it, but all three showed, to me, that they knew Dan had passed.
What I found most disappointing was the fact that the production team totally botched the live announcement from Randy Bernard the totally botched the attempt to replay Bernard's announcement. They had 2 hours to get ready for it. Then they blew the Jaime Little report from the hospital ("I can't hear the booth") Painful.
In terms of analysis, I never heard any comments from Eddie or Scott about Wheldon's closing speed as the wreck was happening. To me, it did not appear that Wheldon lifted at all while everyone in front and to the sides was slowing or crashing.My first thought was "stuck throttle".
As for cancelling the race, its not an easy decision, particularly because the venue and the $5 million promotion that got Wheldon into the race were both IndyCar initiatives. I'd dare say that were this not the final race of the season WITH the championship firmly decided, the race probably would have continued before announcing Wheldon's death.
As for the track being too small and the cars too fast, isn't that the point of racing? Car control and driving below the limit? As a now famous retired superstar racer once noted, "hey, racecars have brakes for a reason".

What a sad loss of a brilliant talent and genuine fine young man.

Bray Kroter

MRM4 said...

I didn't get to see the accident happen live. I had turned it over not too long after it happened. It wasn't until some time later until I saw more than one replay of the accident. I know many disagreed with replaying the accident again, some of us had not seen the severity even though we knew it was bad.

The TV crew did an outstanding job relaying the information they had and keeping things in perspective. The pit road folks had a tough job and they handled it wonderfully. So did the guys in the booth. Tough day all around.

rich said...

A sad day for motorsports. ABC/ESPN is to be commended for the job that they did under very trying circumstances. Marty was at his best.
Yes, the spotlight is definitely on Indycar now. Hopefully they will handle the situation right and succeed in the future. I know that they have struggled this year but I feel that Randy Bernard has the know-how to turn it around.
I have listened to the Indy 500 since 1957. Hopefully will do so for many more years.
My sincere best wishes to Dan's wife and sons.
RIP Dan Wheldon

Garry said...

I want to repeat a comment from Bill Elliot years ago, when asked by a reporter as to why they have a pre-race prayer: "Because when we leave pit road, we may never come back." Haunting, yet an unfortunate risk in a sport that thrills us at one point, yet reminds us of the frailty of life at the same time. God Speed, Dan.

Anonymous said...

I know Dan chose to be in the race, but I can't help but be angry at IRL for creating a perfect storm of events leading up to this: the gimmick of the $5 mil that put him in the race; making him start in the back; allowing too many cars on the track for the venue; speeds too high; possibly too many inexperienced oval racers.

It made me remember the CART race in TExas so many years ago when the drivers refused to race on Sunday, because after practising they felt it was too dangerous. I wonder how many of the veteran drivers were thinking back to how they stood up that Texas weekend and wondering if something could have been done to change the outcome of this past weekend.

glenc1 said...

about the accident seems like we have this discussion every time something like this happens. Over the years, (and I understand some may disagree, especially out of deference to the families) I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with 'morbid' curiousity. For some of us, I think it's just our human nature to want to understand what happened--it's not that we derive any pleasure watching it; it's not sensational, it's just a matter of piecing the incident together, even if it's not to fault anyone. As for the in-car, I think it's important to remember it's a camera--it's not anyone's personal view. I do think a long warning is in order after the initial showing, to give anyone time to turn away, especially if they *know* it's bad, but I don't think it's wrong of them to help the viewers understand how an accident unfolded. The booth guys were careful not to lay blame on one person, but to say it was the type of racing they were doing that brought it about. Years ago I was somewhat angry at some photos that came out after Earnhardt died, but after other people I knew said it actually helped them, I started to understand. It's just a way of wrapping your mind around what happened, even though in some ways it makes no sense at all.

diane said...

I'm not sure the IRL will recover from this. I don't think I can bring myself to watch an open wheel race on an oval again. Road course, fine. Stock car with roof, fenders and full roll cage on an oval fine.

I expect that several drivers will retire or not return to this series next year.

JamWEB said...

"People always wonder why I sign off with "'til we meet again." Because goodbye is so final. Goodbye Dan Wheldon." - Marty Reid

Anonymous said...

JD - 1st Person account here...

Like you I am a former Operations Producer in motorsports (NBC/TNT) and, ironically I was in a suite as a fan yesterday. I just got home from Vegas with my family and I have been reading all morning about the great way ABC handled the situation. I could not agree more.

I am not sure that your readers all know that as a fan you can scan the TV Production channel while sitting in the stands as a fan.

I listened to every word the producer/director said for the entire production. It was a veteran ESPN team that we have all worked with and all the fans are very lucky that they were in charge during the 2.5 hours following the crash. Any other situation may have led to: Inappropriate Replays, Speculation of News, and even Leaving Coverage early.

The overwhelming theme was the complete lack of information and support from the league to their TV partners. It was inexcusable.

1) When everyone knew it was Wheldon being transported to the hospital, Indycar would not confirm it because they were concerned that all the family had not been notified. Clearly social media had confirmed everything, and even know ABC had replays of Dan on a stretcher going into the helicopter they did not air it out of respect. They waited 30 minutes until finally a IndyCar official told them Off the record, and he did not want his name mentioned, clearly because he was worried for his job. Unbelievable breakdown in command.

2) ESPN dispatched Jamie Little to the hospital, knowing they were going to continue to be the last people to be informed of anything, even though they were delivering the largest audience. They were right.

3) ESPN rushed to make all the Cameras and Microphones in the media center available to air live, even though this is not normal on this series.

4) ESPN anticipated that IndyCar would give their TV partners a few minute notice before any announcement to prepare all the platforms across the ESPN platforms to deliver the information live. The did not and everyone was 10 seconds late to Randy Bernard's address. Inexcusable.

5) Finally, IndyCar gave no warning that they were going to do anything on track. Race, Not Race, Tribute Laps, anything! Luckily this crew, especially the announcers were ready for anything.

All this was happening as they were giving information to people like Ashley Judd and Etc, to be able to Tweet across the universe, but ESPN/ABC could not legitimately report anything as fact.

Extremely Unfortunate actions from IndyCar, Not So Luckily ESPN/ABC has done this before.

KR - Coral Gables, Florida

Garry said...

I appreciate "insiders" such as Marty Reid, and the gentleman that worked for NBC leaving comments. We all appreciate the jobs you do, even though we can be critical at times of coverage/non-coverage, etc.Still, an awesome job of covering a horrible situation, given the tools you were provided. Not trying to be morbid, but covering motorsports has and always will carry the 800 lb. gorilla that is the chance of death. Sad, but true. Take care.

Cangal said...

Often we criticize the media believing that when verbalize appears to be scripted, but on Sunday ABC/ESPN and those media members in the broadcast both, Eddie Cheever Jr., Goodyear and Marty Reid brought a "human quality which was both heartfelt and sincere." How these individuals maintained their composure following the crash and the announcement of Dan Wheldon's death brought me to tears. All three broadcasters were compassionate and sincerely honest in their delivery to us the viewing audience. I commend them and I also commend reporter Jamie Little/ESPN reporter who traveled to the hospital to provide updates on Dan Wheldon's condition as they were made available for reporting to the general public. I felt a genuine loss in the voices of all her reporting this devastating on track death. I salute Marty Reid for his "signature sign-off."

Anonymous said...

Credit the ABC producers for handling this tragic situation with utmost respect and good taste.

red said...

my thoughts:

-> to KR in Coral Gables: thank you for your insight. Because I was on the road, coming home from Charlotte, I didn't see any of the coverage. But reading about all the "mistakes" that happened on-air, I had to wonder what was really happening behind the scenes. You clearly & dispassionately answered many of those questions and pointed out where a far better job of communication has to be done by the series partners.

-> to Pete Pistone: you're correct: I don't often agree with you when it comes to TV coverage of racing but I am always glad to read your comments when you stop by TDP. I, for one, thank you for taking time to add your thoughts.

-> to Daniel Vining; I am not a journalist, just a racing fan and I agree with you completely. Everything should be captured: every word, every image, every in-car, overhead, heart-wrenching moment of it. It doesn't need to be shown on-air or online nor does it need to be shown to everyone but it must be preserved. The reality of what happened can only be discerned when ALL information is available for review. Until that happens, no substantive recommendations for change or improvement can be stated. It's unbearably painful but having folks determined to capture as much as possible is, for me, invaluable.

-> my take: There is no definitively right way to handle what happened, there is no "right " decision as to what should have happened next. Broadcast partners should have guidelines to follow as far as what to show, what to say, how to responsibly relay information. It is not their role to speculate just as it is not Twitter's role to wait for final verification. Each serves a far different purpose. So I won't fault TV for not "confirming" what Twitter "reported." Each filled its role with varying degrees of success.

My daughter expressed frustration that, as she watched it live, TV followed "some rookie" as he drove unscathed off the track & didn't stay with the wreck zone. My explanation: they have learned to not have have cameras on such a scene unless/until they have a clearer idea of the fate of each racer. I think we've learned that from events like McDowell's wreck in Texas & Sadler's at Pocono, just to name two.

But like all race fans, she knew what the tarp on Weldon's machine meant and that image said everything she needed to know and yet didn't want to believe.

As a community, we learn with each tragedy how to prepare to broadcast in the event of the next one. It is a horrible state of affairs but it is the reality. Mistakes were made, no doubt, and the fear folks were feeling over the possibility of the death of an amazing racer like Dan Weldon also fed into the anger and frustration some are expressing. But wanting to know what happened sometimes just has to wait for the system to figure that out first.

I didn't have to decide which/how many replays to watch this morning so I can't comment on whether they showed too many or too few or the 'wrong' ones yesterday. However, I would strongly encourage all racing network partners to review the decision that was made yesterday and determine how they would handle it if it happens on their watch.

Because it is a fearsome reality of racing that it will happen again and it most likely will be on live TV.

I love our sport but there are times, like today, where I hate that I love our sport.

Palmetto said...

Tarps are never a good sign. Not showing the replays isn't a good sign either. The entire TV crew did as well as could be hoped for when thrust into these circumstances.

I thought the first several laps were exciting, but then I began to wonder how long the drivers could keep it without a problem. Afterward, I stayed with the coverage for over 90 minutes but after a while ... well, you just -know-

My deepest condolences to the Wheldon family and everyone with IRL.

Palmetto said...

Phil Lee @4:44am, there's something in some human beings that draw them to push the edge - drivers, sky divers, mountain climbers, spelunkers. Depending on our emotional attachment, the rest of us may appreciate them while encouraging them to be as safe as possible, or we may turn away. Drivers will race even if there are no TV cameras and the only people in the stands are their families. Doing so as entertainers allows them to make a living at it, in faster (and safer) equipment than they could afford on their own; but the people drawn to motorsports would still compete if their only venue was an abandoned airstrip or a plowed field.

Regardless of whether you watch another race again, I hope you reach a decision that brings you peace.

Anonymous said...

You know, if you watch the replay of the LIVE call of the race, it's apparent that Eddie Cheever was, from the booth, focused on Wheldon when things started going all wrong.
When Wheldon hits the catch fence, head first and in flames, Cheever instantly and instinctively shouts "OH!" No doubt, he felt it was potentially fatal. No doubt, when he watched thru binoculars as Wheldon's tub slid to a stop, the "head forward" position of the driver and the subsequent convergence of 6 to 10 rescue personnel was bad news. Cheever knew right then, meaning the booth knew.
Respect and deference to the family is paramount, and its a challenge for the sanctioning body. But better to err on the side of respect.


Darcie said...

ESPN and Jeremy Schaap did a wonderful tribute to Dan Wheldon during Sportscentet. It's things like this tribute that ESPN does very well.

AveryNH said...

I tuned in late after a friend of mines funeral, looking for some racing to cheer me up. After an hour of Reid recaping the prior events showing a replay and stating that wheldon may be seriously injured I grew worried. After the drivers meeting and seeing their expressions I knew he was dead and knew I was now a part of unfortunate history. I was impressed by the wide amount of coverage this received both on sportscenter and on a variety of news outlets local to national. My deepest sympathies to the Wheldon family. R. I. P.

Kenn Fong said...


Thanks again for providing this forum for us. It's wonderful that both you and other authorities choose to share your insights.

Am I the only one who wished someone had killed the mic so that thoughtless track announcer wouldn't be able to share his empty platitudes?

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California

fbu1 said...

Good job by the ABC/ESPN team.And a good job by The Daly Planet for giving us this opportunity to share our grief. Thank you Mr Daly.

RIP Dan. Prayers for the family.

Anonymous said...

IndyCar lost a true talent and an even better person. I never had the chance to met Dan, but you could tell he was such a happy man and truly loved what he did for a living. I had the race on, but was not paying attention when the wreck happened and it definitely got my attention as it was happening. I started feeling sick to my stomach when they came back and said they were still working to get Dan out of the car. I watched the entire thing, and feared the worst.

The ESPN/ABC crew did a great job handling the situation. As many people have said, I was disappointed that they missed the announcement from Bryan Barnhart.

Dan Wheldon was a true champion and will be greatly missed!! My heart is still breaking for his wife and 2 young sons and his entire family and all the drivers, his friends, and fans. I have not stopped thinking about him since they made the announcement that he had passed. I wish that I had had the opportunity to meet him. May he Rest In Peace.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thank you for all the wonderful comments.

Your posts were read by folks all over the world and many members of the motorsports media.

I appreciate the quality individuals we have as readers who responded with comments on this very difficult topic.


Zieke said...

This is not a knee-jerk reaction, but this and some other ovals are way too fast for these light cars to be traveling on, which is one reason why F-1 cars don't race ovals. Jimmy Johnson said it and probably most other drivers feel as such. I also believe that the Indycar folks were trying to generate some badly needed publicity be setting up this race in that format.
Rest in Peace Dan.

Bobby said...

Graham Rahal is organising an auction to benefit the Wheldon boys.

As of 9:30 PM, he's confirmed INDYCAR's de Silvestro, Kannan, Marco Andretti, D. Franchitti, Mann, and Wilson, Sprint Cup's Johnson and Montoya, Truck Series' Papis, and NHRA's B. Bernstein are participating in the auction. Haymarket, the British owner of various motorsport publications Autosport and Racer, is donating two-year subscriptions to the appropriate magazine.

fabmaster said...

I echo the comments of most, but must clear up a misconception. That was NOT the track announcer you were hearing on the broadcast, it was the radio broadcast that was being played on the PA, over the VERY strong objections of the LVMS staff.

But remember; this was a "Track rental" so it was Indy Car's call, not the tracks,


Kenn Fong said...

@Fabmaster: Thanks for clearing that up for me. I stand corrected.