NASCAR Releases Earnhardt Crash Study

An investigator involved in NASCAR's study of the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt says many events came together to kill the seven-time Winston Cup winner at Daytona in February. Dr. James Raddin, a San Antonio-based expert in analyzing crash injuries, says investigators conclude that Earnhardt's car collided with the track wall at a critical angle, that the crash with the number-36 car on the track put Earnhardt in a vulnerable position before his car hit the wall (at left), and that each of those events put forces on his helmet.

Raddin says each of those multiple events potentially contributed to the fatal injury. Earnhardt had a ring fracture at the base of his skull as a result of the impact. During the very detailed presentation of the investigation discoveries, Dr. Raddin, also said that investigators determined that Earnhardt's seat belt broke during the accident, and that it was not cut by rescue workers afterwards.

Before the presentation, NASCAR president Mike Helton said NASCAR will install "black boxes" similar to those used in airplanes so that car teams can study impacts and their affect on cars and drivers. NASCAR also is going to begin a study on restraint systems, which will give drivers more information about seat belt strength.