If I were to tell you I saw a wonderful guy this weekend in Las Vegas who had GQ looks, perfect teeth, a radiant smile, he dressed well, loved his family, was a young father and a champion racer, who would you think I was talking about? IndyCar’s Dan Wheldon comes to mind, doesn’t he. So does TORC & LOORRS Off Road truck driver Rick Huseman.
The parallels between these two gentlemen don’t stop there, unfortunately. Both of these amazing men lost their lives on Sunday, October 16, 2011. Dan Wheldon was in the act of doing what he loved: driving IndyCars. Rick Huseman was in a private plane, returning from a racing/sponsor appearance and essentially doing something he loved, too: watching Supercross.
Each of their tragic deaths shocked and deeply saddened the racing world Sunday night. But each of them, when alive on this earth, gifted us with their loyalty, their wit and humor, their zest for life and their generous spirit.
As the ones left behind, we are finding it difficult to come to grips with losing two young individuals who gave so much of themselves to others, who worked hard for what they believed in, who loved life so much they should have walked this earth until they were 100 years old. But God had other plans. Exactly what those plans are will be tough to decipher so soon, but in the months and years to come we will find out.
With the death of Jeffrey ‘Ox’ Kargola fresh in the minds of all in the Off Road community, Rick Huseman’s death just seemed unfathomable. As well, small planes have taken the lives of other Off Road drivers returning from events in the past few years. I choose to believe that what will come out of Huseman’s passing is a research platform to provide safer flying regulations and better planes for drivers to begin using.
Dan Wheldon’s race crash has caused the IndyCar community to reflect upon the deaths of Greg Moore (1999) and Scott Brayton (1996). Scott’s tragedy brought about the research and development of the SAFER barrier and Greg’s race crash helped to mandate the HANS device and cockpit modifications. I choose to believe that Dan’s death, coupled with his testing and input on the 2012 IndyCar will bring about a safer ‘pack’ racing car and further cockpit improvements. And based on driver input one day after his death, we may even see improvements to the tracks on which both IndyCar and NASCAR race.
After seeing so much finger pointing and hatred online on Monday, I posted on Twitter late Monday night that we as a racing community can and will come together to overcome the sadness of these tragic events and turn them into positive life tributes and improved industry standards.
I now hope you, like me, will choose to believe we will do just that.
Rest in Peace Rick Huseman
1973 – 2011
Survived by wife Michelle,
Son Ricky (1)
Rest In Peace Dan Wheldon
1978 – 2011
Survived by wife Susie,
Son Sebastian (2) & son Oliver (7mos)