Terrible Shadow crash at Road America

Driver Jim Pace miraculously walks away

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Jim Pace (in black driver suit with peace sign) looks on as the Shadow DN4 is removed from the track | Steve Zautke photo

It was a beautiful day Saturday for historic racing at Elkhart Lake’s Road America for the WeatherTech International Challenge vintage races. However, Jim Pace, driving a 1974 Can-Am championship-winning Shadow DN4 may have had the wildest ride of the day.

Pace Chases Bennett | Ryan Davenport photo

As part of the festivities, the featured marque for the weekend is the 50th Anniversary of Don Nichols’ Shadow cars. Many of the great cars from the mysterious career of the late Can-Am, Formula One and Formula 5000 constructor were on display and were running in the afternoon qualifying session.

The Shadow begins to lift at the hump | Larry Fulhorst Facebook video

Coming up the straightaway at close to 180 mph, Pace was tucked under and behind the other DN4, driven by Craig Bennett. As the cars came up the hill and crested the hump under the bridge, the air came off Pace’s Shadow and it “flew straight up, did a half turn, landed on the roll bar and skidded for 150 yards,” according to eyewitness and local Wisconsin radio personality Steve Zautke.

Bodywork begins to fly off | Larry Fulhorst Facebook Video

Unbelievably, Pace, clearly shaken, walked away from the total wreck, which had to be winched off the straightaway. It was just four years ago that Craig Bennett had a suspension/brake failure going into turn twelve tire wall at Road Atlanta in a DN4, causing life-threatening injuries to his spine and limbs, injuries from which the driver since has recovered and returned to the cockpit.

The remains of the Shadow DN4. The Tub looks intact | Steve Zautke photo
Aerodynamics have been one of the most effective developments in motorsports in the last 60 years, but they also have been the cause of some scary crashes. Think Brian Redman in 1977 at Mont Treblant and Yannick Dalmas in a Porsche 996 GTi at Road Atlanta in 1998. Dalmas walked away, but Redman suffered life-threatening injuries from which he, too, recovered.
Shadow Bodywork lays in the middle of the straight, which shows how far the car travelled beyond the flagstand | Ryan Davenport photo
The Shadow DN4 driven by Pace and owned by Jim Bartel, a long-time Shadow collector, is a complete wreck. However, the DN4 crashed by Bennett was rebuilt. There is probably a future for the damaged car to be fixed and run again.
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49 COMMENTS

  1. Craig Bennet crashed in to the Turn 12 tire wall at Road Atlanta, drivers left. Not turn 1, as you described in the article.

  2. And not a chance the car was at 180mph just past the walkover bridge. Modern IndyCars, hell, even the late 1990’s early 2000 Champ Cars, or the R15 Audi, attained those speeds there. 140mph is more likely.

  3. Didn’t one of these Shadows have an eerily similar crash at the Rolex Reunion a few years ago, going over the crest at turn 1. I thought maybe Bennett was driving that time. Scary!

  4. If you look closely at the pic with Jim behind Bennett you will notice how the front of Jims car is already much higher, in the draft. No downforce. I am very glad Jim is ok.

    • Looks like the left front wheel may even have some air under it because there is light under the tire not related to the shadow under the car or under the left rear tire.

  5. Yes. I see that… Like the Meister Brauser back in the day… It was a fan who told Augie Pabst that the front end was lifting on the straights… A splitter then added solved the understeer problem for sure.

  6. I think it’s pathetic you wrote this article. Compete disregard for the community. Cheap clickbait from someone desperately seeking relevance.

    • That’s a bit strong. The word is out there. These things get covered and discussed. It was a public event.

      Did something spur this reaction? Is there a back story?

      • Not at all. Had Tom covered the event at all, other than the wreck it would be relevant. But he didn’t. He latched onto sensationalism. He hasn’t been to track. Racer.com waited 24 hrs to post their story out of respect for the driver. Who needs time to notify family. It has nothing to do with my ego, rather with tom’s lack of awareness. Do you realize how many scared calls JP got? Hundreds. He didn’t have a chance to tell his family. I stand by my statement. Tom is not well liked in the paddock. My email inbox is full of people agreeing with me. It was a desperate move to generate traffic to this otherwise irrelevant site. What if it was you? And some guy you’ve never heard of, spreads a new story without even going so far as to give the driver time to notify family. He doesn’t give a crap about JP, racing or racers. Self centered idiot. Racer.com is a professional organization, that doesn’t need to latch onto something that damn near killed my friend. I was there. At the track. I buckled him in. Not one single post came from this website to help promote the event. Nothing. Not a photo or a story other than a very ugly wreck, that Tom knew would generate traffic. He’s a loser.

        • Woof! Do you even troll bruh?… Tom is a fantastic journalist, champion of the sport, and Jim walked away from the wreck. Road America personnel did an awesome job, the Shadow crew prepares those cars brilliantly, and the fans were all understanding. I too was racing in that event and if I had a spectacular wreck, I can promise you it would be all over the internet in minutes. That is life when you do things in public. Other “publications” would have reported sooner, but they mostly write articles pandering to sponsors. Respectfully, the racing world doesn’t need any “Karens”. Let’s leave this kind of triggered name calling to helicopter parents at the local school soccer field. Great race Jim and the Shadow crew, well run event Road America and race personnel, and good article Tom. If I ever have a shunt, I hope Tom writes the first article.

  7. Well, opinions are like ***holes, we all got one… For our millions of users/readers, it’s relevant news. If Jim had been seriously hurt or killed, we would have still reported it, but thankfully the affable Mississippi driver is ok.

  8. Sutherland’s comment is beyond bizarre – truly a SMH moment. How in the world is this news “disregard” or “pathetic”?

    Or is there some history here with you and his sister / daughter / mother????

  9. Harry Hauer once told me that you could turn the steering wheel from lock to lock at top speed at Daytona in the Scarab

    • Joe Ongenars, my mod autocross car got light at speed. Big rear wing, no other car around. halfway down a straight, I could turn the wheel but have no effect. It meant being aimed correctly before opening the throttles. Have you seen the video of the red C2 Corvette blow over on the drag strip?

  10. Hello Tom,
    The conditions (speed, headwind, drafting, acceleration etc…) were the perfect storm here. The front end lifted midway up the hill and then she blew over backwards. A lot of dusts and sparks until it stopped. Crew members and rescue workers on the scene immediately. A wild ride but I’m 100% ok. I LOVE Road America!!!
    Regards,
    Jim Pace

    • Hi Jim:

      Really glad you walked away from that one, buddy.

      I LOVE Road America too and wish the world situation hadn’t kept me away this year.

      Say hi to everyone at RM and Predator for me.

      Best,

      Tom

        • Very glad Mr. Pace is okay. For the troll: hey, racing is a risky personal choice. JP has done exceptionally in his career at various levels, and like many others I don’t have the time nor income to physically follow the circuits (Indycar has been hard enough). This article was neither “clickbait” nor irrelevant to me- maybe you just learned that term, and dying to try it on?
          Thank you for your reporting, Thomas- and I think JP has the second best surname in racing, close behind Scott Speed. Peace!

    • I’m glad you are OK, Jim.
      I love your in-car videos, especially the ones with the commentary – I watch watch them over and over again like an obsessed 5 year old! I also appreciate the respect you show for the history of those cars that you get to drive.

    • I notice that there is a GoPro on the car in the last picture! I cant believe it held on through that wild wreck! Do you have the video?

  11. How is it pathetic this article was written? I was in the paddock, walked into seeing this without any clue what happened. This is the only spot I could find any news on this. Crazy to watch.

  12. Can we tell the videographer to turn his phone to landscape next time please?

    I’m glad to hear JP is okay, but sad to see the hurt car… Equally happy to see them all out there still doing what they were meant to do!

  13. Let rich kids loose with priceless machinery in places where exactly this has happened before, and this is what you get.

  14. I do not know Jim Paces credentials to drive a DN4; the task if formidable suggesting tutoring on the idiosyncrasies. Actually many Can Am cars including Mark Donohue’s 917-30 have experienced this dynamic.

    • Jim Pace has extensive credentials….off the top of my head, he’s won the Daytona Rolex 24 hour overall and in GT and won 12 hours of Sebring twice if I’m not mistaken
      ….he’s very accomplished….I was shocked to see this accident, but so happy he walked away unscathed!!!

    • Jim’s car control sucks when the car is flying through the air upside down. But when the tires are touching the track, he is as good as they come. JR, I hope you get a chance to see him drive someday. It’s a real treat.

  15. Jim Pace is a very experienced driver and very capable. As he has said he walked into the perfect Storm.Just Glad Jim came through OK.

  16. I’m reminded that it was once said that some of these cars from the 70s and 80s were about as aerodynamic as a poorly designed airplane. And that’s not good…

  17. I studied the video and realized this incident was produced by those in timing & scoring, the group who have the big red button to energize the powerful bridge-magnet put to use when two cars wear the same race number. They won’t let anyone get away with this sort of blunder !

  18. Tom, you just reported the news. News is not always pleasant. I was at RA when it happened but had little idea what had happened except what was said over the PA. Jim Pace is an accomplished driver but yes, stuff happens when you’re driving a CanAm car. The same thing has happened to the best as has been related above.

  19. You will find her few drivers more qualified to drive the Shadow Can Am car. JP is one of the most accomplished drivers and coaches in the world. He won the 24 hours of Daytona with Scott Sharp and Wayne Taylor and has driven almost every fast car known to man. As JP said, it was the perfect storm of circumstances.

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