There is no doubt he called me “brother” a helluva lot more than he used my real name. And when it comes in that staunch English accent, it sounds a little more like “brotha” than anything else.

lost his life yesterday, the result of a terrifying crash in Las Vegas. A wife, Susie, and two sons, Sebastian and Oliver, lost a husband and father, respectively. The world lost the most charismatic driver I’ve ever encountered in a decade and a half of working in motorsports.

Bar none.

If there exists an “it” that gets referenced so much by brands, marketers and fans, this Englishman had it.

Heart? So known for it, that Wheldon placed a mural of 12th-century warrior Richard the Lionheart on his helmet.

Talent? He could flat-out drive the wheels off a racecar.

Confidence? Wheldon knew he could drive the wheels off a racecar! He once shared with me that no one in this country could drive a go kart better than he could. I tried like heck one time in California, only to walk away from a late-night karting center wishing I wouldn’t have tried.

“Brother, why would you even try to beat me? I told you no one can touch me,” he quipped, donning his now well-known smile.

It’s that charisma, though, that separated Wheldon from the pack. As if the way he captivated the room in the first two minutes I met him nine years ago didn’t prove it to me, it was the countless phone calls I remember him getting when we spent more than a week together gallivanting the United States for a series of meetings.

You see at the time, Dan Wheldon was not the household name to race fans it is today. He had yet to take his first laps at Indy – a place he would go on to win two Indy 500 championships and prove to be one of the best drivers to step foot onto racing’s most hallowed grounds.

I remember one of the calls came from a hockey player who played professionally. That’s when it dawned on me just how deep Wheldon could captivate.

Taylor recently completed a research project where we distinctly outlined five keys for building stars in . Dan would rate among the elite in all five categories. I remember thinking about him often when we were conducting the research, noting how the sport needed more drivers that shared many of the characteristics that Wheldon possessed.

I remember thinking at the time that if he were a NASCAR driver, Wheldon would be one of those bigger-than-life stars. What I’ve learned over the last day is he didn’t need a bigger stage to be that way. To see some of the stories, comments and anecdotes pouring in from all over the world is to see that Dan was bigger than life. His charisma was on display in seemingly every corner.

My heart aches for Susie, my former colleague who got the chance to marry her best friend – literally. The two were dear friends long before they started a relationship. I’m praying that both Sebastian and Oliver will get the opportunity to know the spirit of their father from the memories he bestowed on so much of the world – both in and out of racing.

Goodbye, brother.

Photo Credit: Image borrowed from IZOD IndyCar