One of the common end of the year wrap-ups that publishers and broadcasters like to do is a look at what notable people have died in the past year. I was going to discuss cars that have been discontinued but as I write this it occurred to me that it would be inappropriate to not pause first and mention the passing of 1960 Indy 500 winner Jim Rathmann and the shocking racing deaths of Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli. Unlike many of the racers of his day, Rathmann lived to the ripe old age of 83. Racing back then was truly a blood sport. Drivers would know that undoubtedly some of their friends would no longer be with them at the end of the season. Thanks to the efforts of drivers like Jackie Stewart and the dedicated work of the engineers who design race cars and racing equipment racing is much safer than it was just a generation ago. Other than drag racer Scott Kalitta, who died in a 2008 wreck, Wheldon was the first top rank racer to have been killed racing since Dale Earnhardt Sr. a decade ago. Our prayers are with the families of Wheldon, Simoncelli and Rathmann and we hope that this time next year we can say that there have been no prominent racing deaths in 2012.
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