Susie Wheldon, 10 years on

Brett Moist/Motorsport Images

Susie Wheldon, 10 years on

IndyCar

Susie Wheldon, 10 years on

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Wheldon has maintained an efficient life over the last 10 years. Making smart and miserly decisions with finances and protecting their savings has allowed her to give something close to 100 percent of her time to the boys. Everything she has instilled and nurtured within Sebastian and Oliver is evident; to an old family friend like Dario Franchitti, the best parts of Susie and Dan are represented.

“I can look at them, Sebastian and Oliver, and see so much of Dan, but they aren’t just his boys; I see so much of Susie in them, too,” he says. “It’s like they’re perfect little portions of them. And then I think about how it was 10 years ago with Dan, because they are much older. They’re almost teenagers now.”

One might wonder how Wheldon, after losing her husband in a senseless motor racing crash, is able to watch and encourage her sons to follow their father’s legacy in the sport. There’s not one, but many answers to the question.

“I feel so at home at the track,” she opens. “And with them racing, it’s not to say there aren’t stressful moments. I think about things…it’s natural, as a mother, as somebody that’s been in the sport a long time and seen a lot of things. But it’s important for me to be able to just watch them and know that they’re pursuing a passion of theirs. Dan would be so proud of them.

“That was a big dream of his, as any father would want to see their sons carry on a legacy that they’ve created. I just try to live in the moment as much as I can and not get too overwhelmed, because the path is overwhelming at times, to think about what lies ahead and what’s at stake as they go farther and farther. I’m at a place where I’m somewhat at peace.”

Susie Wheldon speaks at the dedication of “Dan Wheldon Way” in St. Petersburg, Florida. Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

There are elements of truth in the old adage about time healing all wounds, but there’s no wisdom to offer on how much time someone like Wheldon will need to reconcile most of what took place back in 2011. It’s certainly more than 10 years.

“I definitely have my my days and my moments; I’ve definitely gone through a lot of horror, I’ve done a lot of work around dealing with grief and trauma,” she continues. “Because not everybody experiences the same thing. When you have a loss, you have your grieving, but there’s not always trauma attached to that. And so having those two things to work through at the same time, in this same realm of space, it was very traumatic.

“And being there at the race and seeing that and all of that, regardless of how foggy things were early on, and, and the struggle it was, I knew for sure I needed to do the work and get through the process of grieving. And to do what I could while the boys were still young, to not expose them to that as much. I realized I needed to do that even in the chaos and just craziness of everything that was happening at the time. I want to be as healthy and as at peace as I can for rest of the years that I’m with them. That was really important to me.”

Wheldon’s steadfast commitment to her own healing — drumming out the fears that might limit her sons from living free and spirited lives — is where racing for Sebastian and Oliver became possible. But thoughts of Dan are never far away. This isn’t the type of wound that fully closes and disappears.

“I still struggle with the loss, for sure,” she says. “That’s something that will always be attached to me. Dan’s imprint is forever on me. And just knowing the impression that he had on people that didn’t even know him very well, or just knew them as a race car driver, it’s no different for them. But it runs a bit deeper for me and the boys.

“We’re doing well and I can just hope that they continue to thrive and we can enjoy this journey that they’re on. I really do want to enjoy it and be able to look back and think wow, that was really a special time.”

Wheldon maintains a mostly private life. Even so, her bonds with the IndyCar community have remained strong over the last decade. There’s no chance that will change. She and the boys are ours.

“I love that so much,” she adds. “We’re so grateful and just feel so blessed to have everybody, and we felt it. I want you guys to know we’ve felt everybody’s arms wrapped around us, especially these last 10 years.”

 

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