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More than $375,000 raised so far in Dan Wheldon Memorial Auction

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Dan Wheldon

More than $375,000 raised so far in Dan Wheldon Memorial Auction

Andrew Herta
Bryan Herta Autosport
November 12, 2011

Jimmie Johnson outed himself in a tweet last weekend. “I’m so pumped I won Bobby Rahal’s helmet … I looked up to him as a kid and the helmet will have a new home.”

The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion was the highest bidder of the helmet in the online auction in which all proceeds benefit the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund. He’s also donated items to the auction.

Graham Rahal’s gesture of auctioning his Las Vegas race-worn helmet, gloves and shoes to raise funds for Wheldon’s family began an outpouring of support from celebrities and athletes around the world.

The auction, which began Oct. 24, is being run by online auction site eBay, which has waived all fees, and Auction Cause, a Los Angeles-based auction management agency specializing in high-profile corporate, celebrity and nonprofit eBay auction events. Additionally, individuals have placed items on eBay with the notice that the winning bid would be donated to the trust fund.

“I thought we would get a good response and we’d get a lot of people that wanted to be a part of it, but the response we’ve had has been extremely impressive,” Rahal said. “We never put out a press release or anything. It’s been all social media-driven around the world and that’s what has been impressive so far.”

The myriad of items – from racing-related items such as a signed Fernando Alonso firesuit worn in the British Grand Prix in July to a framed photo of the Beatles’ 1964 appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” signed by the Fab Four and a collection of Lance Armstrong-signed memorabilia – has generated worldwide interest from bidders.

“Every night at 9 new things go up,” Rahal said. “It will keep happening that way for some time because we still have items showing up let alone items that are going on the site.”

Added recently was the Wheldon tribute helmet that Danica Patrick wore in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5. Bidding already has topped $15,000, and the auction overall has raised more than $375,000.

“I think it’s going to be really good in the end (dollar amount) and that’s the most important part,” Rahal added.

Numerous items have caught Rahal’s attention, too, such as a week’s stay at a villa in Mexico and footballs autographed by Warren Moon and Peyton Manning.

“I put up a thousand bucks for the Paul Newman “Winning” poster and that was gone in the first 20 minutes and I’m happy to see that,” he said. “I wish that was an item that when it showed up at the door I could have slid it into my man’s room. There’s a lot of items that are like that.”

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