Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

The Lionheart: A Great tribute to IndyCar legend Dan Wheldon

Dan Wheldon Celebrates his Indy 500 victory, May 29th 2011. Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Lionheart is a well-crafted and powerful documentary that tastefully covers Dan Wheldon’s life and career while also showing his wife and two sons carrying on his legacy.


One of the core foundations of this documentary is friendship. In addition to his wife Susie, Dan Wheldon’s best friends/former teammates help walk the audience through his career.

These drivers are IndyCar legends Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, and eventually Scott Dixon (once Wheldon signed with Chip Ganassi.) Wheldon’s time at Andretti would solidify their friendship on/off the track. Their bond would stay strong through the rest of his life.

The fact that it’s not just his former teammates, but his best friends walking the audience through his career is special. It adds a valuable addition of emotional depth and consistency to the film.

That depth and consistency are there from Wheldon’s early career to after his death.


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While Dan Wheldon‘s best friends/former teammates were crucial to telling the story of his career, the documentary would not be possible without his family.

Dan’s father played a smaller but crucial part as he told the story of what he was like as a child and how he got into racing.

However, Susie Wheldon is the heart and soul of The Lionheart. She is the bridge that melds the on and off-track sides of Wheldon’s life.

The way she tells her experience of meeting her husband and their time together is powerful. It gives the audience a heartfelt picture of what Wheldon was like as a husband and father. This is especially the case once they had their children and how that changed him as a person.

Susie shows a lot of bravery, resilience, and vulnerability not just in telling her husband’s story, but particularly in raising the kids and supporting their dreams of becoming a driver like their father.

The Lionheart does a great job of showing the scale of Susie’s sacrifice to support her kids considering what happened to Dan.


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While The Lionheart is about Dan Wheldon’s life and career, a huge part of the documentary is also about his sons Sebastian and Oliver.

The documentary goes back and forth between Wheldon’s career in the past and ten years after his death as his two sons pursue their racing dreams. This was a very effective choice by director Laura Brownson.

This made the film a much more cohesive experience for a couple of key reasons. The first is generational reverberations. Since Sebastian and Oliver were very young when Wheldon died in 2011, they never got to experience karting with their dad as many kids their age do.

The film clearly shows how important racing is to Sebastian and Oliver. Being on the track is how they feel close to their dad while also being a way to process their grief.

Secondly, it shows Andretti Global’s connection with the Wheldon family, in two generations.

Michael Andretti is featured a lot in The Lionheart, mostly when talking about Dan, but also with the kids. It shows Sebastian and Oliver getting signed by the Andretti driver development program.

Being an Andretti driver is now like father, like son.

Final Thoughts

What makes The Lionheart so effective as a motorsports documentary film is that being a racing fan is not required to connect to it. The universal themes of grief, loss, love, and friendship are part of what makes the Dan Wheldon story so compelling.

It tells that story gracefully and respectfully. The Lionheart is not an easy watch but is worth it to learn about one of IndyCar’s greatest champions and his family.


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