The Dallara IR-05 was built specifically to be driven in excess of 230 mph and protect its driver in the event of an accident at those speeds. Its carbon fiber chassis was designed to break apart during a collision and absorb the forces of a series of massive impacts while keeping the cockpit surrounding the driver intact.
Since its introduction in 2005, only one driver, Paul Dana, had died behind the wheel of the Dallara before Sunday. In a freak accident during practice for the 2006 season opener in Homestead, Fla., Dana lost control of his car and hit a damaged vehicle that had come to a stop on the track in front of him head-on, at an estimated speed of 176 mph. Dan Wheldon went on to win that race. Since then, the cars had been used in 100 races and covered more than 500,000 miles in competition without any loss of life, and few major injuries.