IndyCar Driver Dan Wheldon Funeral Rites in St Petersburg, Florida

Dan Wheldon is being remembered not only as a champion driver but as a devoted husband, caring father, loyal friend, beloved son and a neat freak. The world of motor sport and fans alike gathered to pay its respects at the funeral services for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon took place in St Petersburg, Florida.

Large crowds gathered on Saturday to pay their respects to the 33-year-old father of two outside the First Presbyterian Church, where the funeral began at 10am local time. About 1,200 mourners filled the church, which was open to the public, and Pastor David Hosick compelled the congregation to grieve fully for the sudden loss of Wheldon, a talented racer and young father, Tamba Bay Online reported.

"You were a true lionheart, my love. Thank you for sharing your love and your life with me," his wife Susie wrote in a letter to her husband which was read for her at the service.

Fellow drivers Danica Patrick and Dario Franchitti traveled to St. Petersburg for the funeral. Both were in the race in Las Vegas when the horrifying crash occurred. The St Petersburg city council was scheduled to honour Wheldon with a resolution on Thursday afternoon, and IndyCar officials are holding a public memorial service Sunday afternoon at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indy.

On Friday, Wheldon's sister, Holly, tweeted: "Thank you so much to everyone who emailed and tweeted me amazing messages. Really appreciate it. Dan would be proud of all of you. :)" 'Though we won't be able to fit everyone inside, I know that Dan would have wanted the community to share in the celebration of his life and to grieve his passing,' Susie said in a statement before the funeral.

He was buried in a private funeral service following Saturday's public memorial at the First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg. 

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