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Paul Dana
Nationality  United States
Date of birth April 15, 1975(1975-04-15)
Place of birth St. Louis, Missouri
Died March 26, 2006 (aged 30)
Indy Racing League IndyCar Series
Years active 2005-2006
Teams Hemelgarn Racing
Rahal Letterman Racing
Starts 4
Wins 0
Poles 0
Fastest laps 0
Best finish 27th in 2005
Previous series
Infiniti Pro Series
United States Formula Three
Formula Ford 2000 USA

Paul Dana (April 15, 1975 – March 26, 2006) was an American race car driver in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.


Early life

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Dana graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Before becoming a race driver, he worked as a mechanic, a private racing coach, a driving instructor, a PR & marketing account representative. He also was an editor and journalist covering motor sport, his writing having appeared in AutoWeek, Sports Illustrated and Maxim.

Racing career

In 1996 Dana was working as a mechanic at the Bridgestone Racing School in Ontario when he won his first races there. In 1998 he moved to Indianapolis and began competing in Barber Dodge Pro Series, and his top 20 finish earned him an invitation to the inaugural Formula Dodge National Championship. He then competed in the Infiniti Pro Series where he captured one race win and placed second in the 2004 championship. He then secured sponsorship to run in the IndyCar Series with sponsorship from Ethanol suppliers, which he brought to Hemelgarn Racing.

After competing in 3 IndyCar Series events, Dana suffered a spinal fracture while practicing for the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and missed the rest of the season, replaced by Jimmy Kite. He returned to the series to race for Rahal Letterman Racing after he recovered from his injuries.

Fatal crash

In the practice session for the first race of the 2006 IndyCar Series season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dana collided with Ed Carpenter's disabled car after Carpenter's tire went flat, thrusting the car into a retaining wall, before sliding to the bottom of the track. Paul Dana, in the Rahal-Letterman car, was told to "go low" by his spotter. Slow-motion footage showed that Dana had hit debris from Carpenter's car just before impact, which caused damage to the right-front suspension and prevented effective braking.

ABC/ESPN's telemetry indicated Dana's car hit Carpenter's car at about 176 mph (283 km/h), while Scott Sharp, who was running alongside Dana, reported that he had slowed to approximately 50 mph (80 km/h) by the time of Dana's impact.

Dana was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died due to complications from his injuries sustained in the crash. He was 30 years old, and is survived by his wife Tonya.

After his death, Dana's teammates Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick did not compete in the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as a mark of respect for their deceased teammate.

On his March 27, 2006 television show, an emotional David Letterman paused to offer his condolences to Paul Dana's family; "It's not hard to imagine the despair and sorrow that Paul Dana's wife, Tonya, and the rest of his family are feeling now, and I want them to know that they have the thoughts and the prayers of myself, the entire Rahal-Letterman team, and the entire racing community and, hopefully, that will give them the slightest amount of comfort. I did not know Paul personally but we were all proud to have him on our team and are deeply saddened by his tragic passing at such a young age."


  • Caldwell, Dave (March 26, 2006). Indy Racing Rookie Dies in Crash During Practice. New York Times
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