Longtime racer dies in crash at Brainerd International Raceway

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A longtime racer was killed in a crash during a race at the Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota Sunday afternoon.

Mel Shaw, 70, a Trans Am Series driver from New Jersey, was racing in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) GT-2 race when he ran off the track at turn 3 and crashed into a concrete barrier, according to the Crow Wing County sheriff's office. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office will perform an autopsy, but the racetrack owners say Shaw may have been having some health issues before he crashed. Other drivers reported that he was driving erratically after turn 2 and when he drove off the track at turn 3, he did not let up on the throttle, did not hit the brakes and did not try to turn, according to a news release.

An alert driver would not have driven straight off a turn like that without trying to avoid hitting the concrete wall, the other drivers said.

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

The Crow Wing County sheriff's office is investigating the crash. 

The raceway is one of the largest racetracks in North America. Shaw had also been scheduled to drive in the following race as part of the finale of BIR’s three-day PleasureLand RV Show & Go.