IRL driver Paul Dana dies after crash
By MIKE HARRIS
AP Motorsports Writer
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) – Driver Paul Dana died after a two-car crash Sunday during the warmup for the season-opening IRL IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The other driver, Ed Carpenter, was awake and alert at a Miami hospital, IRL officials said.
Dana, 30, a former motorsports journalist with a degree from Northwestern, was a rookie who competed in three IRL races for Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing last year with a best finish of 10th in the race at Homestead.
The Toyota Indy 300 race was expected to be run as scheduled. Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing for which Dana was to race this season, said the team's other two cars - driven by Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice - will be pulled out of the race.
"Obviously, this is a very black day for us," Rahal said. "This is a great tragedy."
Carpenter spun and hit the wall moments after the practice began at 10 a.m. EST. As Carpenter's battered car slid to a stop, Dana slammed into it at almost full speed - about 200 mph.
Dana's car nearly split in half. The chassis flew about 6 feet off the ground and pieces were strewn down the track. It nearly turned over, but landed on its wheels before sliding to a halt.
It took track safety workers about 15 minutes to get both drivers out of their cars. The practice session did not resume.
Dana and Carpenter, the stepson of IRL founder Tony George, both were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. IRL officials said Dana died shortly before noon.
Vision Racing team general manager Larry Curry said he was told Carpenter "would be fine."
Dana is the first IRL driver killed since Tony Renna died in a crash during testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 2003. The last NASCAR driver killed was Dale Earnhardt in February 2001, and the last driver to die in Formula One was Ayrton Senna in May 1994.
It is the third racing death at the Homestead track - John Nemechek was killed in a NASCAR truck race in February 1997 and Jeff Clinton died in a Grand Am sports car event at the track in March 2002.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press