IndyCar star Dan Wheldon killed by fence pole in October 15 crash in Las Vegas
IndyCar investigation concludes circumstances of crash were a 'perfect storm'
Report rejects claims 34 cars too many for Las Vegas circuit
Englishman Wheldon was a two-time Indy 500 winner
IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed by a fence pole that sliced through his car, causing fatal injuries, an investigation into his death concluded Friday.
The 33-year-old Englishman, a two-time winner of the famous Indy 500, died in a 15-car crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the final round of the 2011 series on October 16.
The report, published on the official IndyCar website, said the circumstances of the accident were a “perfect storm” as his car flew into the air and hit the track side fence.
“The chassis impacted a vertical post along the right side of the tub that – as the car passed by – created significant damage extending from the pedal bulkhead, through the cockpit and shearing off the roll hoop,” IndyCar President of Operations Brian Barnhart was quoted.
“As the pole intruded the cockpit, the impact with the driver’s helmeted head produced non-survivable blunt force trauma.”
Wheldon, who had started at the rear of the 34-car field, was in 24th place on lap 11 when the accident occurred, causing him to decelerate from 224 mph to 165 mph before he hit a car in front of him.
“It is a tragedy. Our thoughts and support will always be with Dan’s family,” added Barnhart.
In the aftermath of the crash, safety concerns were raised about the number of cars racing on the 1.5 mile circuit in Las Vegas, but these were rejected by the report.
“The 34-car starting field was determined to be acceptable based on factors such as length and width of the racetrack and pit space capability, and review of the incident supports the conclusion.
“Similar consequences could have occurred with any size starting field at any track,” it added.
However, IndyCar organizers have decided against including Las Vegas on their schedule for the 2012 season.
“Las Vegas is a great city, a resort destination. Our fans, our sponsors and everyone likes Las Vegas and it’s a great place for the race,” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said.
“But I don’t want to go back there if the conditions aren’t right and it’s not safe for our race cars.”
IndyCar said they would continue testing at the facility with the next-generation 2012 car ahead of a possible return in 2013.