This month I've covered a lot of motorsport and car related subjects on the blog. Some have enjoyed it while others want me to go back to writing about random interesting stuff, and I will, but bear with me on this one.
It is with a saddened heart that I write about the untimely departure of two talented racers, which lost their lives a week apart, these past two Sundays.
Dan Wheldon was born in England in 1978. He started karting at the very early age of 4 and continued racing throughout his youth and teens, even crossing paths with Jenson Button, before moving to America to compete in the lower ranks of open wheeled racing, but it wasn't too long before his talent was noticed and, eventually, earned him a seat at the pinnacle of competition, the Indy Racing League, in which he won Rookie of the Year award in his first full season. A year later he was 2nd overall, and the next year, champion.
Las Vegas Speedway was to become the stage for the final race of the year. There were voiced concerns by drivers (many of them former Champions) about the degree of banking, which allowed cars to roll at high speeds of 220 mph (350 km/h), and the short nature of the oval circuit, at only 1.5 mi (2.4 km), the cars were all grouped up in a bunch, racing wheel to wheel; a mistake by one driver could take out many. A field of 34 cars, more than any other race for the past 14 years, worsened matters even more.
The perfect storm brewed and then erupted in a huge accident involving 15 cars, only 10 laps into the race. Dan's car, number 77, took flight after running into the back of one of the already colliding cars in front of it, and moments later impacted the safety barriers. Rushed to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries not much later. The event was canceled as everyone learned of the tragic news. The leaderboard was lit with his number on the first place spot, and the remaining drivers drove five emotional parade laps around the circuit.
Marco "Super Sic" Simoncelli
When the words motorsport and Italy are uttered in the same sentence, most will think straight to Formula One and Ferrari. However, something that is just as big there is Moto Racing. Legendary riders like Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi, as well as makers such as Ducati, MV Agusta and Aprilia, hail from Europe's Boot.
It was in this environment that young Marco Simoncelli (born in 1987) grew up, competing on minimotos from age 9 and progressing quickly through the lower ranks of moto racing, winning the Italian 125cc championship in 2001, as a rookie, and the European title in the same category one year later.
He arrived at the Road racing World Championship for the 2002 season, competing in the 125cc category for some years but never winning it, and moved to the 250cc bikes for the 2006 season, finishing 10th, a result that repeated itself the following year.
In strong form for most of the year, taking 6 victories, he kissed glory finally in 2008, becoming champion of the category at the age of 19. The next year saw him taking a respectable 3rd place overall, but more importantly a promotion to the top step on the bike racing ladder, MotoGP.
Showing his skills and pace he finished his first year a respectable 8th place, and throughout 2011 he was a strong finisher, rarely out of the top 10, which had put him 6th overall with two races to go to the end of the season.
The seventeenth round of the championship brought the riders to Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit. It was all set to be another thrilling competition between the best of the best.
Moto2's race was red flagged after spaniard Alex Pons had an accident.
The worst was to come however. At the second lap Marco was running at an impressive 4th place when he lost control of his bike at turn 11, veering into the paths of Colin Edwards and fellow italian Velentino Rossi, neither of whom could avoid a collision with him. The impact managed to remove his helmet, and his figure lay motionless on the asphalt. Rushed to the hospital, intubated, and given CPR for 45 minutes, he was declared dead because of injuries to his head, neck and chest.
I'm sure this great promising talent would have been a champion in the future. His aggressive riding and crazy curly hair will be missed within the whole community.
As I write this it's Saturday, 11 am local time, the day before the Indian Formula One Grand Prix. With two deadly black sundays in a row, I really hope this time there can be two without three.
After Grand Prix Edit:
The GP went without incidents. The drivers held a minute of silence for both colleagues lost, a very emotional tribute. Let's hope it's a long, long time before anyone has to wear a black armband again.