Official report concludes Dan Wheldon's death a "chance" accident

The official IndyCar accident review has been released concerning Dan Wheldon's fatal crash at Las Vegas earlier this year. Although Wheldon's head coming into contact with a fence support post was ruled the specific cause of his death, the verdict on the context of the accident is that "multiple factors that are not uncommon to racing that came together in a way that claimed Dan's life."

Two days of safety testing had been conducted at the Vegas speedway, but drivers still knew it could be a "hairy" race. The size of the track allowed for a huge field of 34 cars, and the particular geometry of the track not only allowed high speeds, it also meant that there were no 'racing grooves' that would channel the cars into some kind of order. That meant ''nearly unlimited movement on the track surface under race conditions." The ability for drivers to race just about anywhere the banked oval also meant it would be hard for drivers to know where everyone else was, meaning it was problematic to identify any predictable route to safety without standard racing lines.

Wheldon's car wasn't the only one to go airborne, nor was it the only one to impact the fence above the SAFER barriers. It just so happened, however, that his cockpit was turned toward the fence as it impacted. The report's conclusion was that "While several factors coincided to produce a 'perfect storm,' none of them can be singled out as the sole cause of the accident. For this reason, it is impossible to determine with certainty that the result would have been any different if one or more of the factors did not exist."

IndyCar will not return to Las Vegas next year, but more testing will be conducted at the track for a potential return in 2013. Additionally, the Dallara chassis entering the series next year has been engineered to address issues with wheel-to-wheel contact.

Share This Photo X