Mario Andretti Racing Student Killed in Crash at Auto Club Speedway

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IOctober 16, 2010

DAYTONA, FL - JULY 05: Mario Andretti, Daytona 500 winner, poses prior to practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2007 in Daytona, Florida.   (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The motorsports community continues talking about the tragedy that struck Shane Hmiel last weekend, and the road to recovery will be a long and painful one.

Unfortunately, news broke out about another racing tragedy on Friday, except this one did not involve a big name driver racing in one of our premier series.

KTLA News in Los Angeles reports that a woman is dead after crashing a replica Indy race car into a wall at the Auto Club Motor Speedway in Fontana, California.

Ashley Phalen, a 24 year-old woman from Los Angeles, California, was driving the car as part of the “Mario Andretti Driving Experience" at 9:32 a.m. Friday, when her vehicle slammed into a wall at a high rate of speed and flipped over.

Phalen was taken to Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Fontana where she later died, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department.

Driving experiences or schools have become very popular in all forms of auto racing, and the "Mario Andretti Driving Experience" is described by the company's official website as being the "World's Fastest Driving Experience."

In the paid driving experience, members of the public are allowed to drive replicas utilizing "full size, 600hp, Indy-style race cars with open cockpits and open wheels."

As with all types of auto racing, whether it be professional or taking advantage of one the many public programs available, the one thing to remember is that they are very dangerous.