The late Dan Wheldon will be honored at the 2012 Indy 500 in several different ways next weekend in what Indianapolis Motor Speedway hopes will be a fitting tribute for the two-time 500 winner.
Wheldon, who scored a dramatic Indy 500 victory just last year, was killed in the October IZOD IndyCar Series season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The tribute began today with Wheldon's winning No. 98 car being placed in the IMS Hall of Fame Museum – which sits in the track's infield – until Sunday. Fans can also see the car on Saturday, May 26 in the plaza area beneath the famous IMS pagoda.
But that's not all the track is doing with the car. Bryan Herta, who fielded the car for Wheldon last year, will drive it around the track for a "lap of honor" before the command to fire engines on Indianapolis 500 race day.
Here's perhaps the coolest part of the tribute: Every fan entering the track will be given white cardboard sunglasses (Wheldon often wore white sunglasses) and will be asked to wear them on the parade lap as well as laps 26 and 98 – which symbolize the numbers of his winning cars.
Wheldon's widow, Susie, will attend the public drivers' meeting on May 26 and will also receive Wheldon's championship ring when he arrives in town. This will be Susie Wheldon's first visit to a racetrack since her husband's death.
The driver's image is on the Indy 500 ticket and will be on the race day technical inspection sticker for each car as well.
"Dan embodied the spirit of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway like few who have ever raced here," track CEO Jeff Belskus said. "He loved this race and this special place so much, and his fans and everyone associated with 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' returned that affection with equal passion.
"We're honored to pay tribute to Dan – an incredible father, husband, friend and driver – through these activities this year. But rest assured, he will be remembered forever at IMS."