Officials at Kentucky Speedway say they were devastated by the death of Dan Wheldon. Just two weeks ago he raced on this very track in preparation for the Las Vegas event.
Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger says extreme euphoria and utter despair are the nature of auto racing.
"The cool thing about running a speedway is that the highs are really high. The bad thing is that the lows are very low. You cant have the high-highs without the really low-lows," he says.
But he never could have expected the low that came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway yesterday.
"The highs are way up there, and the lows are just kicks in the gut and we sure got one on Sunday,"
Indy racer Dan Wheldon was killed after his car went airborne and smashed into a fence during the twelfth lap of the Las Vegas Indy 300. It was a race he prepped for right here at Kentucky Speedway.
"If he won the race in Las Vegas, he won a $5,000,000 bonus that would be split half with a fan. To prep for that, he came and raced here at Kentucky Speedway two weeks ago," says Simendinger.
Officials arranged for a lucky fan to go on a charity shopping spree with Wheldon while he was here in Kentucky. Simendinger says that's just the type of guy Dan Wheldon was.
"You look at the reaction of the people that knew him the best and I think that tells you what you need to know about what this person was really like. I think it's going to take everybody a long time to really get over this one," he says.
Track officials say before the wreck, Wheldon was set to replace Danica Patrick as she made her move to NASCAR.