Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon, the sons of late two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, have been signed as junior drivers in development deals with Andretti Autosport.
The team made the announcement Saturday morning during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at Dan Wheldon Way, the downtown memorial in the city where Wheldon lived and was raising his family when he was killed in the 2011 season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Wheldon won the Indy 500 with Andretti in 2005, and he had signed to return to the team on the morning of his death.
“Dan was family to us, and we had a lot of on-track success together,” Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti said in a release. “We see a lot of Dan in both Sebastian and Oliver and are very proud to officially welcome them into our racing family.
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“No one will ever be able to replace Dan in their lives, but we’re happy to offer a network for mentorship to help the boys grow their careers. Karting is the first step, but we have hopes of helping foster promising Road to Indy, and eventually even INDYCAR opportunities.”
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Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon both have been winners in karting, and the brothers will race with the Andretti shield in three national level karting series: Rok Cup USA, Super Karts USA and United States Pro Kart Series while competing with JC Karting.
“I’m really excited to be a junior driver for Michael Andretti and follow in my dad’s footsteps. I hope Oliver and I can both win the Indy 500 too,” Sebastian, 12, said.
“It would be so cool to race for Andretti Autosport one day. I think we will get to win a lot of races, just like my dad,” Oliver, 10, said.
Michael Andretti and his Indianapolis-based team, which has cultivated dozens of drivers in the Road to Indy ladder series, will help coach the Wheldons.
“I am so grateful to Michael for taking Sebastian and Oliver under his wing,” mother Susie Wheldon said in a release. “The junior ranks of racing are so difficult to navigate and to have the support of Andretti Autosport’s engineering resources will, I’m sure, make all the difference.
“I am reminded of Dan every time the boys pull on their helmets as they have the same determination and winning attitude. They often show some of Dan’s other traits too. Good luck, Michael – #DoubleTrouble!”