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AUTOSPORT Awards Gregor Grant Award: Dan Wheldon

Dan Wheldon was honoured at this year's AUTOSPORT Awards as he received a posthumous Gregor Grant Award in recognition of his lifetime achievements in motorsport

AUTOSPORT Awards Gregor Grant Award: Dan Wheldon

Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and the 2005 IndyCar Series champion, died on Sunday 16 October as a result of injuries sustained in a crash at the IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas. He was 33.

The award, which was to be given to Wheldon following his second Indianapolis 500 victory, was collected by Wheldon's father Clive and his great friend and IndyCar rival Dario Franchitti.

"From my heart I'd like to say a special thank you to our friends, family and to everyone for what they have done for our family in the last two weeks," Clive said.

"My memories of Dan in his early days, when we travelled round the country and I was chef, mechanic, are ones I will treasure for the rest of my life."

"The best racing memory for me has to be at Indianapolis this year," Franchitti said. "A lot of people in that field should have and could have, but Dan in that little team turned up and kicked our ass basically.

"When he came down to do the parade lap I thought I was going to do something funny to him, but I could just see the pure emotion on his face and how much it meant to him. That pure joy, in such difficult circumstances, I will always remember. It was a great day, and showed everyone what an amazing driver he was."

A British karting and 1995 FIA World Cup champion, Wheldon was one of a golden crop of British drivers to graduate from karting to single seaters in the 1990s.

He battled for the Formula Vauxhall title in 1996, won races in his rookie season in Formula Ford in 1997 and one year later was pipped to the Formula Ford crown by Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 world champion.

In 1999 Wheldon set his sights on racing in the US and made the move to a country in which he would enjoy his greatest successes.

He claimed the US Formula Ford title at the first attempt in 2000, and in straight seasons rose up the CART ladder by finishing second in the Toyota Atlantic series and then as champion in Indy Lights.

It was in the IndyCar Series that his big chance came. After late outings in 2000, he was called to replace an injured Franchitti at Andretti Green Racing. When Franchitti returned, Wheldon was retained due to team boss Michael Andretti standing down.

His first victory came in 2004 at Motegi, and one year later he claimed the IndyCar title and won the Indianapolis 500 - the first Briton to win the race since Graham Hill.

Wheldon only narrowly lost out on defending his title in 2006, losing on a countback of wins, while he finished fourth in the following two seasons.

For 2009 and 2010 he joined the smaller Panther Racing team, but with no sponsorship forthcoming - and despite some good results - he was dropped for 2011. He decided to focus on the Indianapolis 500 this year, and on May 29 he took an emotional second win for Bryan Herta Autosport.

He was chosen to race for a lucrative prize in the IndyCar finale at Las Vegas, but tragedy struck.

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