BUTTON WINS WHELDON MEMORIAL KART RACE
Published on 12/06/2011
Formula One star Jenson Button and newly crowned Izod IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti were among a host of top racing drivers to compete on Monday in a two-hour endurance go-kart race to honor their late friend Dan Wheldon. Daytona Milton Keynes kart track in the United Kingdom hosted the race held in honor of the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and former IndyCar Champion, who died on Oct. 16 in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Button--the 2009 Formula One world champion--won the race along with co-driver Clive Wheldon, Dan's father. Franchitti finished second with co-driver Holly Wheldon, Dan's sister. However, the event was not run with an overly competitive spirit but rather one of pure fun. Button, along with plenty of other racers, took advantage of a "pay for penalties" aspect to the race that allowed drivers to "bribe" officials into handing out penalties to their rivals, raising additional money for the Alzheimer's Society--a cause important to Dan Wheldon, whose mother has the disease. Overall, the event raised more than $30,000 as competitors raced wheel-to-wheel in fast, 125-cc, twin-engine karts.
"The overwhelming response for Dan's Memorial Kart Race was truly moving; it has been a fantastic evening," said race-car driver and event organizer Johnny Mowlem, a friend of Wheldon's. "The event sold out within just a few hours, and the management and staff at Daytona Milton Keynes have done a brilliant job to accommodate such a huge gathering. I can't thank them enough for their support."
Jim Graham, Daytona Motorsport's marketing director, said, "We're obviously delighted to be chosen to host such an important and memorable event. It's great to see so many of motorsport's elite here enjoying themselves while raising money for an extremely worthwhile cause and remembering a friend and colleague."
The event concluded with Clive Wheldon thanking all of the teams and drivers for taking part.
"Dan would have been very proud," he said. The senior Wheldon then hinted at plans to make the Dan Wheldon Memorial Kart Race an annual event.
Pro drivers who joined Mowlem, Button and Franchitti in the race included Anthony Davidson, David Coulthard, Guy Smith, Jonny Kane, Rob Huff, James Hinchcliffe, Johnny Herbert, Marino Franchitti, Martin Brundle, Alex Brundle, Mike Conway, Derek Hayes, Adam Carroll, Chris Buncombe, Richard Dean, Steven Kane, Sam Hancock, Luke Hines, Marc Hynes, Nic Minassian, James Rossiter, Peter Dumbreck, Richard Lyons, Sam Bird, Duncan Tappy, James Thompson, Tom Sisley, Ollie Hancock and Danny Watts.