Sebastian Wheldon leads an honorary pace lap at the Kart 4 Kids event in 2014 (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Dirk Shadd)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Dan Wheldon's legacy remains strong in his adopted hometown and among the close driver community that has worked hard to maintain the causes important to the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
The annual Kart 4 Kids event has been moved this year to coincide with IndyCar's season debut in St. Petersburg, the city Wheldon called home with his wife and two young sons. The event benefits the John Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Pete. The hospital is a leading center for pediatric treatment, education and research, and Wheldon was a supporter.
Wheldon was killed in a 2011 crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The kart race this year will be held Wednesday at Anderson RacePark, and an accompanying auction of donated items will add to the total funds raised.
The event this year is being chaired by St. Pete resident and IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais and sports car driver Patrick Long.
"I first met Dan in the late 1990s both as aspiring racing drivers racing karts, and to this day there is not a racing weekend that goes by where Dan’s name doesn’t come up," Long said. "This event has so much meaning to so many different people, but on a personal level it has become a solid focus of what I think about and work on outside of my driving career."
This will be Bourdais' fourth year competing in the event, but first as co-chair.
"When Patrick and the organization asked me this year if I wanted to be a part of it, as the event was moving to the week of the St Pete GP, the first thing I said was, 'Not sure how I can help, but count me in.'
"Naturally, I started reaching out to my fellow IndyCar drivers and their support was nothing short of spectacular. This year, my little piece to the puzzle was to try to develop the auction, by finding new items and maximizing their exposure, so it would be better and bring extra revenues. To those who haven’t been out yet, we say bring your helmet, your smiles and your family and let’s race for a good cause and have some fun in the process."
Among those committed to race Wednesday are IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Spencer Pigot, as well as sports car driver Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, James French and Jan Heylen.
The live auction also includes several donated items by the drivers. Bidding can be done through Auction Cause.
Live Auction on eBay