Accident results in tragic loss

A single-car accident on Brainerd International Raceway’s (BIR) road course resulted in the death of Trans Am Series driver and long-time racer Mel Shaw Sunday.

The incident is under investigation by the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department, but Shaw was racing in the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) GT2 class when he ran off the track at Turn 3 and crashed into a concrete barrier. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office in St. Paul for an autopsy.

Shaw, a 70-year-old racer from New Jersey, was also scheduled to drive in the following race, the 100-mile, 40-lap Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, which was the finale of BIR’s PleasureLand RV Show & Go, a three-day affair that featured drag racing, road racing, a car show, live music and fireworks. Shaw was set to drive a Camaro in the TA4 class for Breathless Performance Racing Team.

“The staff and racing community at Brainerd International Raceway are deeply sorry for the loss of a passionate and longtime racer, Mel Shaw,” said BIR owners Jed and Kristi Copham. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to Mel’s family, his racing team and the entire Trans Am Series and SCCA organizations.

It appears that Shaw may have been having some health issues before he crashed, Jed Copham said. Other drivers reported that he was driving erratically after Turn 2, and when he drove off the track, he didn’t let up on the throttle, didn’t hit the brakes and didn’t try to turn. “I can’t imagine an alert racer driving straight off a turn like that without attempting to avoid making contact with the wall,” he said.