Veteran IndyCar team owner and former driver Bryan Herta received a very touching and emotional Christmas gift during his company’s annual Christmas party on Saturday.
A joint effort from employees at Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IMS Museum and the Verizon IndyCar Series saw Herta receive the exact steering wheel that the late Dan Wheldon used in winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500 for BHA.
The wheel was enclosed in a translucent case that also featured bricks from IMS, as well as a photo of Wheldon and Herta taking ceremonial swigs of milk after their inspirational “little engine that could” win.
It was the second time Wheldon won the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, having also taken the checkered flag in 2005 for the former Andretti Green Racing (now Andretti Autosport).
Herta was visibly moved by the gift, tweeting later in the evening:
Sadly, Wheldon, 33, was tragically killed in a crash later that same year during a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, while driving a car jointly entered by both Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Herta.
But the lives he touched, particularly BHA in the one-off effort that resulted in the Indy 500 victory, will never be forgotten.