LA woman killed in crash during racing class at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana

Ashley Sara Phalen's vehicle struck the inside wall at a high rate of speed and overturned at about 9:30 a.m. Friday. Phalen was participating in the Mario Andretti Racing Experience Driving 101 class.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A 24-year-old Los Angeles woman was killed in a crash during a simulated Indy race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, it was reported today.

Ashley Sara Phalen’s vehicle struck the inside wall at a high rate of speed and overturned at about 9:30 a.m. Friday, the Fontana Herald News reported. Paramedics took Phalen to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, where she was pronounced dead.

Phalen was participating in the Mario Andretti Racing Experience Driving 101 class, which teaches the public the basics of open-wheel racing by allowing them to drive replica Indy cars, according to the San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office.

Race track officials did not say how fast Phalen was driving when she smashed into the inside wall, but said race cars often reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour on the two-mile course.  Racing at the track was suspended Friday, but resumed Saturday.

Speedway spokesperson David Talley said it was the first death at the track that he could recall in recent years, adding that Phalen had taken a class prior to getting into the car and was in radio contact with instructors while driving.

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Comment by: LA woman killed in crash during racing class at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana | Markayi Posted: October 17, 2010, 3:22 pm

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Comment by: Hi-jacked Posted: October 18, 2010, 8:12 am

Honestly, where are the regulations for this Indy racing league and the fastest drivers in the world that is sponsored by Macy’s. Freedom is not license and it is obvious to the entire world that this business is only about dollars and not about people. I regret that my son had his 10 year B-day Party at the A’s race park in Melbourne, FL.

Indy racing 101 is just as ludicrous as “race in for a ride” and “Race to the Party”.

Congressional Investigation perhaps regarding racing and license, along with “permission to race but not licensed to drive.” Children and racing is just as ludicrous. Most sane business people understand “American Humanity 101.”

RIP: Another young woman in the Arms of the Angel

Comment by: Burl Hatterley Posted: October 18, 2010, 12:21 pm

These “race experience” schools in psuedo-race cars should not exist. Neophytes should never be allowed on a major league race track at high speeds. She might as well have stood on the Fontana train tracks and played “dodge the Metrolink.” Death was not a surprise.

Comment by: Artemis Crabfrog Posted: October 18, 2010, 2:42 pm

Spoken like a bunch of weeny liberals that can’t take personal responsibility for anything. Last I checked the cars have a brake pedal and a throttle pedal and only go as fast as you push the pedal. Accidents happen, deal with it, like adults.

Comment by: Peter Posted: October 19, 2010, 5:22 am

Risk management is a big part of my current occupation, so I want to know how often this “event” results in fatalities. Does anyone have that information? If it happens often, it should be shut down or radically changed. Every undertaking in life involves some level of risk, but racing has very serious potential consequences, so safe practices must be emphasized.

I have been to Ford’s High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park and was very impressed with the program. After one day of instruction (including thorough evaluation of our skill level by trained professionals!) we were strapped into FR500S racecars and allowed to practice what we had learned at a higher rate of speed. Safety was always stressed as our foremost objective. This was not just a “thrill ride” program – after successful completion of three days of training you earn a racing license. We spent many hours on the track at high speeds and no one got even slightly injured while I was there. I know I will be a better driver on and off the track, which ultimately means greater safety for everyone. My point is, racing can be safe, but that requires proper training.

I have researched some of the fatalities that have taken place in open road events and, in most cases, someone was doing something they had been told NOT to do. When you do something stupid at 150 mph it is very like to end badly. However, in racing, as in life, there are no guarantees. Sometimes the foolish escape unharmed and the prudent get hurt.

I hope we find out exactly how this happened and can learn valuable lessons that will help reduce risk on the racetrack. Maybe this is one “Experience” that needs to be shut down. This is definitely one horrific tragedy, but those who are making judgments without knowing the facts are making a big mistake.

Comment by: george Posted: October 19, 2010, 9:51 am

It was a terrible thing to happen and yes she was in charge BUT, we assume that the car is safe and will not have a part fail that removes your control!

They need to check the Heim joints! (AKA spherical bearing rod ends) they ALWAYS break on these cars.



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