Hunter-Reay Honors Wheldon With Custom Indy Helmet

5.14.2012 (Via Marshall Pruett, SPEED)

One of the most heartwarming images found on the Indianapolis pit lane this year is the one-off helmet livery Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay revealed over the weekend.

Depicting his fallen friend Dan Wheldon, shown celebrating his final victory last May, Hunter-Reay told the choice to honor Wheldon at the race he’s most heavily associated with was an easy choice.

“I felt like that was the most sincere form to honor a true champion, and also, our current Indy 500 champion,” he said. “Like you say, a helmet is very personal, and the whole IndyCar community is like that. I felt like this was the way I could express my respect for Dan in the most visible way a driver can when he’s in the car.”

“The even better thing about it is that we’re auctioning it off at The Yellow Party on May 24th to benefit Racing For Cancer and Livestrong. The fans that have seen the helmet love it, and the team also loves it. It’s done in the right way, and hopefully we’ll do Dan proud this month.”

RHR mentioned he also asked his painter to use an actual image of Wheldon on the helmet, rather than something hand-painted, for a specific reason.

“I use Cleber to paint my helmet; he does Tony Kanaan’s and a few others, and he does a phenomenal job,” he added. “When we were talking about the design, I told him I wanted a photo of Dan, I didn’t want anything airbrushed. He used the photo of Dan wearing the wreath standing in the car on the yard of bricks. That’s the one I wanted. He’s got that million-dollar smile going on. That’s how we should remember him.”

After losing his mother to cancer in 2009, RHR has been one of the most vocal proponents within the paddock to drive awareness and raise funds for cancer research, and the 31-year-old says one lucky fan will get to take the Wheldon tribute helmet home later this month to support two of his favorite charities.

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