30 year old Paul Dana was killed Sunday morning during the final warm-up session for the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Ed Carpenter had backed his car into the Turn Two wall at about 10:30am, a few minutes into the session. His car slid to the bottom of the track and came to a rest sitting perpendicular to the flow of traffic. Paul Dana was unable to avoid the stationary car and struck it at roughly 170mph.
Both men were airlifted to nearby Jackson Memorial Hospital, but Paul Dana was declared dead just before noon. Ed Carpenter was found to have no broken bones but was held overnight for observation.
During a pre-race press conference, Brian Barnhart (IRL President and COO) and Bobby Rahal (Paul Dana's team owner) confirmed that the trackside and in-car yellow lights functioned properly and quickly, and there was no problem with the radio system in Dana's car, leaving some question as to why Dana did not appear to slow down sooner. The Indy Racing League cars are equipped with an array of safety systems, ranging from data recorders to wheel and wing tethers to chassis designed to deflect energy away from the driver in the event of a crash. That the crash was fatal despite these measures speaks to the severity of the impact.
Fellow Rahal-Letterman drivers Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice withdrew from the race, but the Toyota Indy 300 proceeded as scheduled, leaving Dana's fellow drivers to put the tragedy out of their minds, at least temporarily, and get on with their business of racing.
Paul Dana was seen by many as an enthusiastic driver, happy to have his shot at the IRL. He had broken his back while practicing for the Indy 500 last May, but had fully recovered and was in excellent shape. While most of his fellow drivers considered him capable, there was some concern for his lack of experience. Unfortunately Dana's death follows that of Jorge Bastuck's last week as a sharp reminder of the dangers of motorsports.