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November 13-15, 2005
Beijing, China

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December 13-15, 2005
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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February 5-8, 200
San Diego, California
National Biodiesel Board

11th Annual National Ethanol Conference: "Policy & Marketing"
February 20-22, 200
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
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June 20-23, 200
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

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Posted on  

March 27, 2006

Paul Dana: Racecar Driver, Ethanol Advocate

The ethanol industry and Indy Racing League (IRL) fans alike were shocked Sunday to learn that racecar driver Paul Dana of Rahal Letterman Racing suffered fatal injuries in a crash during warmups before the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series season opener in Homestead-Miami Speedway in Miami on March 26.

The trouble started during warmup laps when fellow racer Ed Carpenter spun out and hit the wall. A caution was issued as Carpenter’s No. 20 Vision Racing car slowly made its way toward the inside of the track. As it came to a stop, Dana’s No. 17 Panoz/Honda hit Carpenter’s at an estimated 175 to 200 miles per hour, nearly splitting Dana’s chassis in half. Both Dana, 30, and Carpenter were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Dana was pronounced dead less than two hours later. Carpenter was in stable condition.

Dana’s teammates Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice were pulled from the event.

Dana was instrumental in convincing the IRL to implement ethanol into its racing fuel, starting with a 10 percent blend in 2006 and increasing to 100 percent in 2007. His founding race sponsors included ICM Inc., Fagen Inc. and Broin Companies, along with nearly 30 additional ethanol sponsors and supporters that had signed on this year.

“Paul was a very special guy,” said David Vander Griend, ICM president and CEO. “He demonstrated his belief in what ethanol can do for all of America through his racing. He helped us with so many things in bringing ethanol to the IndyCar Series. He will be missed tremendously. Our thoughts are with his family today.”

Jeff Broin, CEO of Broin Companies, echoed that sentiment. “The Broin Companies are deeply saddened with the tragic death of Paul Dana, who devoted his life to racing and the promotion of ethanol,” he said. “Paul’s tenacity, passion and dedication in bringing national attention to the performance merits of ethanol through the Indy racing platform will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with Paul’s family and the Rahal Letterman team at this time.”

In addition to his busy racing schedule, Dana made appearances at various ethanol conferences with his racecar on display. He also worked extensively with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), an ethanol marketing group formed in January 2005, to increase ethanol awareness among race fans and other gasoline consumers.

“Paul Dana was one of the biggest supporters of ethanol and what it can do for the American public,” said Tom Slunecka, EPIC executive director, in a prepared statement. “He was tireless in his efforts. On behalf of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council, our staff, the board of directors, and our many members, our hearts go out to the family members of Paul Dana, his friends and his loved ones. This is a tremendously tragic day for us and we wish all of them well.”

The site of Dana’s accident is also the site of one of his proudest moments. Dana made his IndyCar Series debut in 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with an impressive 10th place finish. He made two more starts last season before being sidelined in mid-May with a back injury suffered in a practice crash that forced him to wear a full back-brace until mid-August.

When EPM talked with Dana in December 2005, he said he was in the strongest condition of his life thanks to an extensive rehabilitation program. He said he was looking forward to the new season with the opportunity to learn from his more experienced teammates. Patrick finished in fourth place in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and Rice won the event in 2004.

In 2004, Dana raced in the IRL’s Infiniti Pro Series, finishing in second place in the year-end points standings. He had one win, four second-place finishes and seven top-five finishes. His 2003 rookie season in the series included six top-10 finishes.

Dana got his start in racing as a mechanic in Canada. He also worked as a racing instructor and coach. After earning a journalism degree from Northwestern, he covered racing for AutoWeek and Sports Illustrated. 


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