R.I.P Dan Wheldon

Driver Dan Wheldon(left) jokes around with his boss Michael Andretti before the start of the Indy 500. The 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 was held on Sunday May 25, 2003 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Nazareth's Michael Andretti had car trouble in lap 93 and did not finish. Andretti's other car driven by Tony Kanaan would finish in 3rd place.(ARTURO FERNANDEZ/TMC)

I had the pleasure of photographing Dan Wheldon twice in my career as a photojournalist.  The above photo was the first time back in 2003.  I was working for the Morning Call, and I remember that my wife wasn’t very happy that I decided to piggyback an assignment at Indy while we were visiting her family in Chicago.  How many times do you get access to a race team?  Not many, so I needed to jump on this.  I arrived extra early, wanting to avoid any traffic.  It was so early, that security was just starting to place cones on the street that would be used for directing traffic.  I was sent to Indy to follow Michael Andretti, who was running in what was his last Indy 500 as a driver.  Dan was a member of Andretti Green Racing and finished in 19th place.  Dan was great to photo and didn’t mind when I shoved my camera in his face.  He clearly was enjoying this day.

The second time was during the first running of the Iowa Corn 250, where he placed 11th.  Read a 2008 article published in the Des Moines Register after Wheldon won the Iowa Corn 250.

Dan Wheldon was killed in a 15-car pileup at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday in the Izod IndyCar Series season finale.

Wheldon was 33.

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