On Oct. 16, fan favorite Dan Wheldon was killed after a 15-car pileup at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Even before the race, there was criticism about whether the race should have happened in the first place. According to the investigative report, Wheldon had been driving at a speed of 224 miles per hour in the 24th position when the domino crash happened in front of him, blocking his path. Wheldon was two race-car lengths behind the group. From the investigation, Wheldon was able to reduce his throttle significantly and his speed down to 165 miles per hour when the right front part of his car hit the left rear of another car.
"The #77 became airborne with a nose upward orientation and began to roll to the right. The right rear or Wheldon's car hit (the) racing surface and the car traveled, rear first, (in an) upward position to (the) safer barrier," Barnhart said.
Wheldon's car traveled nose-up and was semi-airborne for about 325 feet, hitting a fence post. While his car, was hit a number of times, Wheldon was hit twice in the head. It was the second impact to his head, the report said, that caused a "non-survivable head injury." The pole hit Wheldon's helmet, directly killing him.
"The safer barrier and fence worked as designed, during the accident, the impact with the fence that resulted in Dan's non-survivable injuries invovled circumstances of location, direction, and orientation and were the chance result of previous interactions," Barnhart said.
Bernard said there were several factors that created, what he called, a perfect storm, but that there was nothing he could say was the sole cause of this crash. According to IndyCar, they performed several compatibility and performance tests at the track, using two cars.Regardless of how much practice or testing they did, they said there wasn't a way to replicate race-day conditions.
"You never get an opportunity to run with everyone out there. Trying to achieve in practice what they do when the green flag drops in the race and those conditions.... the ability of the drivers to race from the bottom of the racetrack all the way up to the wall and run limitless is not a condition we've experienced before," Barhart said.
Authorities said they did not realize the entire track was usable.
"This movement not only allowed for increased car to car contact, but made it more difficult for drivers to predict the movement of other drivers around them," Barnhart said.
IndyCar authorities said they were sticking with their decision not to race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway any time soon. In a press release they said:
"While this incident could have occurred at any track at any time, the dynamic of the current car and the overall track geometry at Las Vegas Motor Speedway under race conditions appears to have been one of the contributing factors in this incident. 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. This incident and its consequences could have occurred with any size starting field at any track".
IndyCar said they will continue looking at safety measures and have put together a technical committee.