Las Vegas Motor Speedway

What was the Accusation?

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died October 16, 2011 after his car was involved in a disastrous 15-car pileup, flew over another vehicle, and landed in a catch fence at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The race had just begun when Wheldon could not steer clear of a wreck on the track that created a fiery mess.  Fellow driver Ryan Briscoe described the crash saying “The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something. I mean, there were just pieces of metal and car on fire in the middle of the track with no car attached to it and just debris everywhere. So it was scary, and your first thoughts are hoping that no one is hurt because there’s just stuff everywhere. Crazy.”  Following the crash, Wheldon was immediately transported to the University Medical Center where he passed away from his injuries. Other drivers expressed afterwards that they were worried about the track, such as Oriol Servia who said: “We all had a bad feeling about this place in particular just because of the high banking and how easy it was to go flat. And if you give us the opportunity, we are drivers, and we try to go to the front. We race each other hard because that’s what we do. We knew if could happen, but it’s just really sad.” Another problem with the track was it was designed for NASCAR stock cars and not the IndyCars which were racing there for the first time the weekend of Wheldon’s death.  In an effort to insulate the speedway itself from criticism, Chris Powell, President of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, released a statement saying he was “deeply saddened by the death of Dan Wheldon.”  However, in comments to reporters, he used the strategy of defeasibility by arguing that the sanctioning body (such as NASCAR, IndyCar) governs the competition and all he does is provide the venue, therefore he wasn’t aware of any concerns with the track conditions.

Key Apologia Strategies:




Official Statement from Chris Powell, President of LVMS:

All of us here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway  are deeply saddened by the death of Dan Wheldon. He was a tremendous race car driver and a great representative for IndyCar racing. Our prayers are with Dan’s family as well as the officials and sponsors of IndyCar.

Chris Powell’s Statements to Reporters:

“We provide the venue. The sanctioning body, whether it be NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar, whatever sanctioning body it is, comes in and governs its own competition. That was the case this weekend.”

“When drivers have concerns, I think 99 percent of the time those concerns are expressed to the sanctioning body. If those concerns were expressed in this instance, certainly it was not to me.”


Dan Wheldon dies after IndyCar crash (2011, October 17). ESPN. Retrieved from:

Garrett, J. (2011, October 17). Worries circled Las Vegas track before a pileup. New York Times. Retrieved from:

Kantowski, R. (2011, October 18).  Day later, serene scene cant hide the tire marks. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved from:

Marshall, J. (2011, October 16). Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon dies after Las Vegas wreck. Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved from:

Statement from Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell on the death of Dan Wheldon (2011, October 16). Las Vegas Motor Speedway News. Retrieved from: