Trans Am driver Mel Shaw died Sunday afternoon after his TA4-class Chevrolet Camaro crashed head-on into a concrete wall at Brainerd International Raceway, reports the Duluth News Tribune. Shaw’s car crashed at Turn 3 of the 2.5-mile Brainerd’s Competition Road Course, at the end of the track’s fastest straight.
The crash occurred during a smaller 12-lap race that happened between two Trans Am series races that weekend as part of the larger PleasureLand RV Show and Go event.
Cars reach speeds of around 150 mph on the straight before Turn 3, and the turn is fairly tight. Witnesses noticed that Shaw’s car was behaving unusually before the crash. Spectator Larry Gau told the Duluth News Tribune:
We heard the cars coming and it was very obvious that this particular car was not slowing down soon enough. He was downshifting, trying to slow down, but as soon as he came back on the gears the car would accelerate and the throttle would advance again. He basically went straight off the end of the track with the throttle accelerating, and went almost straight into the wall.
Aerial photos of the Turn 3 runoff area show grass ahead of a wall that separates the track area from the wooded areas around it.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash, per Racer. Shaw was pronounced dead at the track. The event continued after Shaw’s crash.
Trans Am said in a statement on Shaw’s passing:
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is deeply saddened by the passing of Mel Shaw at Brainerd International Raceway in SCCA Club GT-2 competition this past weekend in advance of the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, in which he was slated to compete.
Shaw stood as one of the longest tenured members of the Series, making his debut in 2011 and running a full effort each following season. Known throughout the paddock for his passion for the sport and support of others, Mel was a fixture of the Trans Am community and a part of what is called the Trans Am family.
Shaw was 70, and had been racing for nearly 50 years.