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Dan Wheldon Crash: Was This An Avoidable Accident?
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Dan Wheldon Crash: Was This An Avoidable Accident?

Dan Wheldon was hoping to walk away with a five million dollar pay out when he went to Las Vegas for a race at the Motor Speedway there. Instead, Wheldon was driven from that track in an ambulance, dead at the age of thirty three. Now officials and spectators are looking for the answers to what caused the fatal crash and asking what could have been done differently to prevent it.

Indy Car Chariman Randy Bernard has been in his position for only two years and envisioned this as a major name drawing event. He had tried to lure in driver Kasey Kahne who admitted to some initial interest in racing but was talked out of it by his team owner. Rick Hendrick was against the idea of Kahne participating from the start. Others, including Travis Pastrana, known for high risk moves during his X game appearances and former CART champ, Alex Zanardi were also interested in racing the event but did not.

Experts are citing a number of conditions that contributed to the crash that happened early in the race, including the lack of experienced drivers, a change in the design of the race track itself and more. The accident, which occurred in lap eleven, was already in progress when Wheldon's car came up on it. With no room to avoid the other cars, Wheldon reportedly clipped another vehicle and flipped.

Crashes are common in auto racing, with most doing nothing more than destroying a vehicle and knocking a driver out. There have been fatalities however, with some leading to new safety rules and regulations to prevent more deaths. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway had not been used for the type of car that was being raced for over a decade and it's design had been changed with the addition of "progressive banking" in 2006. The design is intended to increase the potential for side by side racing which some experts say increases the risk and intensity of accidents.

Racers were traveling over two hundred miles per hour when the accident happened. In addition, most of the racers are described as inexperienced, with some only racing in five races or less. Pippa Mann, who was also injured in the crash, was racing in his third start. There were more racers in this event than is present in the Indy 500, making the field more crowded than might have been considered safe.

Wheldon himself had only driven less than twenty races on oval tracks and had been fired from his racing team at the end of last season. The racers were all given just over three hours of practice time on the track over a three day period, only a portion of what they get for a race like the Indy 500.

According to Clark County Coroner, Michael Murphy, Wheldon's death was caused by blunt head trauma sustained in that crash.


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