24 Apr 2021
Andretti Autosport has signed the sons of the late Dan Wheldon to its driver development programme.
Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon will race under the Andretti banner in the respective karting careers – where they are already race winners – and will receive mentoring and guidance from team boss and 1991 IndyCar champion Michael Andretti as part of the deal.
The announcement was made on the eve of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, a race which Wheldon won in 2005. The Wheldon family has also lived in the city for a number of years.
“I’m really excited to be a junior driver for Michael Andretti and follow in my dad’s footsteps,” said 12-year-old Sebastian. “I hope Oliver and I can both win the Indy 500 too.”
Last year’s Micro ROK Florida Winter Tour champion Oliver, 10, added: “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.”
Dan Wheldon drove for Andretti from 2003-2005, taking nine wins for the organisation, including his maiden triumph in 2004 and the first of two Indianapolis 500 victories a year later. He also won the championship that season before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing.
Wheldon won a second Indy 500 in 2011 driving for former Andretti team-mate Bryan Herta, whose own team is nowadays aligned with Andretti’s.
“Dan was family to us, and we had a lot of on track success together, we see a lot of Dan in both Sebastian and Oliver and are very proud to officially welcome them into our racing family,” said Michael Andretti. “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.”
Andretti Autosport is no stranger to second-generation drivers, with Colton Herta, son of Bryan, currently part of the team’s IndyCar lineup. Marco Andretti, son of Michael and grandson of the great Mario Andretti has also spent his entire IndyCar career with the team.
Speaking of the deal, the brothers’ mother Susie Wheldon said that it would be a great help as the youngsters navigate the racing ladder.
“I am so grateful to Michael for taking Sebastian and Oliver under his wing,” she said. “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!”