Tears and laughs Services in St. Petersburg Florida for Dan Wheldon were both heartrending and comical, somber, yet uplifting. Recording star Wynonna Judd, sister of Ashley Judd (Dario Franchitti’s wife), sang a special rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and “I Can Only Imagine” during the ceremony at the First Presbyterian Church. Wheldon’s wife Susie penned a soulful letter to her beloved husband, read by a family friend. She wrote: “My sweet Dan, my whole body is aching, down to the deepest part of my soul.” And later, this: “My heart is scattered in a million pieces,” she wrote. “I just want to wake up and hear your reassuring voice.” Three IndyCar drivers, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon, served as pallbearers, while many other IndyCar drivers and luminaries were in attendance. A huge crowd jammed the security fences outside the church to pay their respects. Although wet hankies were in abundance at the Conseco Field House in Indianapolis on Sunday, there were laughs and testimonies to Wheldon’s commitment to the sport, his character, and the quirks that made Wheldon who he was—his shoe collection, phone pranks and playful nature. Franchitti, Kanaan and Bryan Herta brought the house down with several stories about the time they were Wheldon’s teammates. Kanaan quipped Wheldon is the only two-time Indy 500 winner on the Borg Warner trophy with two different sets of teeth. Franchitti capped the commentary with this: Dan was the little brother we never wanted. Now I’d give anything to get him back.”
More bad news There’s an old adage that bad things happen in threes. Moto GP rider Marco Simoncelli was fatally injured on the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix. It’s the second death in a racing marquee series in a week. The 24 year-old rider was heir-apparent to Valentino Rossi, his mentor and close friend. The seven-time champion Rossi wrote this on Twitter: 'Sic for me was like a youngest brother. So strong on track and so sweet in the normal life. I will miss him a lot.”
Talladega thins the pack The Talladega chase race was, well, boring—although it was nice to see Childress teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton bring Richard Childress his 100th win. The biggest news may well be the Earnhardt/Johnson pair waiting too long to make it to the front in a late race charge. Even though Jimmie Johnson moved up a spot in the chase, his 26th- place finish put him 50 points behind chase leader Carl Edwards. Most rail birds now say only the top five drivers have a shot at the Sprint Cup crown. Keep your eye on Keselowski; he is now lurking in third place, ready to pounce.
Radio chatter Several team owners clamped down on the number of cars their drivers could call up during the Talladega race. Some had as many as 14 channels to ring up. Richard Childress was the first. He said other drivers could only communicate with the RCR cars if they had written permission. Later, Jack Roush laid down the law for his boys: Only Ford drivers could be on their radios. So, does this mean some drivers could skirt these rules by Twittering? And, a new term has been coined from the spotter stand. The two-car pairs are now called “pods.” Does that mean they’re podcasting for partners?
Stick’em up Anyone on DirectTV has seen notices that Speed, History Channel and others may go dark on November 1. I called DirectTV in a huff over this. The customer service rep says the problem is not coming from them. It’s the result of Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp extortion ploy every time a carriage contract comes up for renewal. The DirectTV rep says Newscorp has done the same thing with Time Warner, Comcast, Dish and Charter. So, send those threatening missives to Newscorp, not DirectTV.
Audi R8 to Grand Am Audi Sport has announced its R8 GT3 racecar will compete in the 2012 Grand American Racing Series. The European model has been extremely successful winning more than 100 races on the continent. It will have to be modified to Grand Am specs. Audi says the car will be ready for the 50th running of the 24 Hours of Daytona next year.