Obituary: Paul Dana 1975-2006

Paul Dana was killed today in the final practice session for the IRL IndyCar race at Homestead-Miami. He would have turned 31 next month

Born in St. Louis on April 15th 1975, Dana held a varied career in motor racing, which included working as a mechanic, a driving instructor and a motorsport journalist for Autoweek and Sports Illustrated.

Dana graduated in 1996 with a degree in journalism from the Northwestern University of Illinois. He then made his driving debut in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge series, where he won six races in 1998.

Moving residence to Indianapolis, Dana rose through the ranks, joining Forsythe Racing in Formula Ford 2000 in 2001, with a best finish of third place at Watkins Glen.

In 2003, Dana moved up to IRL's feeder category, the Infiniti Pro Series, finishing ninth in the points standing for that year. A year later, racing for Hemelgarn-Johnson Motorsports, Dana finished series runner-up, having taken a win at the 1-mile Milwaukee oval.

Dana made his IndyCar series debut in Homestead-Miami last year, driving the #91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing car.

But his IndyCar career was cut short after an accident during practice for the 2005 Indianapolis 500, where he fractured two vertebrae and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

The 2006 season promised to be Dana's big break, joining the Rahal-Letterman team as teammate to Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick.

"It was amazing to make it to the IndyCar Series," Dana said recently, "truly a dream come true."

On Sunday, Dana's #17 Honda/Panoz hit the crashed car of Ed Carpenter in high speed. He was taken to hospital in critical condition and pronounced dead shortly after. He is survived by wife Tonya.

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