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Wheldon auction raises more than $600,000 for family of 2-time Indy 500 winner

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An auction dedicated to the late Dan Wheldon raised more than US$600,000 that will go to his wife and two young sons.

The final total of $627,203 was released Friday by organizers of the Dan Wheldon Auction. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was killed in an accident in the Oct. 16 IndyCar season finale.

"From the very beginning, I have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and the unwavering support of Dan's friends, his fans and from the racing community," Wheldon's wife, Susie, said in a statement. "When Graham (Rahal) reached out to me with the auction total today, I was very touched by everyone's generosity. I want everyone to know how grateful I am and how much I appreciate everyone's kindness and their love.

"It means the world to our family, and I hope one day to personally thank all those who donated and purchased the auction items."

IndyCar driver Graham Rahal announced after the accident that he planned to auction his helmet from the race and donate the proceeds to Wheldon's family. As word spread about his gesture, the entire racing community began donating items for Rahal to auction.

Within a few days, the auction grew too big for Rahal to handle alone. After enlisting help with the auction — GoDaddy.com connected Rahal with eBay, which waived all fees, and Auction Cause, a Los Angeles-based auction management agency — Rahal, girlfriend Laken Kurtz and Beccy Gordon, the wife of IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, had a conference call to figure out how to publicize the auction.

Among the big-ticket items were a helmet from five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, a Wheldon tribute helmet from Danica Patrick, a Tour de France jersey from Lance Armstrong and a surfboard from Kelly Slater.

Johnson bid on and won a helmet from Bobby Rahal, and four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti won the helmets of IndyCar drivers Ryan Briscoe and teammate Scott Dixon.

The auction did run into a snag: Several items were never paid for and had to be reposted late last month. All proceeds went to a trust fund established by IndyCar for Wheldon's family.

"I can't thank you all enough for your support of the Wheldon's," Graham Rahal posted on Twitter in announcing the final auction total. "It means the world to see all of you rally around and support them like this."

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