It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the passing of sport compact racing pioneer Shaun Carlson. It is believed that his untimely death is a result of a genetic heart condition that Shaun was born with known as Brugada. Brugada causes abnormal electric impulses to the heart valves which can bring on random and sudden heart attacks. Earlier this year Shaun suffered three such attacks in a single month it was then that he was diagnosed with the hereditary condition. Doctors implanted a special internal defibrillatorthat was to deliver an electric shock should it detect any heart abnormalities. Although it hasn’t been confirmed if his death was a result of his condition. After discovering his condition Shaun wanted to make a point to educate as many people as he could about Brugada. So please in honor of Shaun know that you know a little more about Brugada google it, check out WebMD, do what you can to learn a little, and pass on the knowledge.
If you were a import drag racing fan back in the day chances are you probably know that name, and even if you don’t you know the man’s work. Shaun (founder of NuFormz Racing and Fabrication) built the world’s first tube chassis front wheel drive Honda Civic. That same Civic, piloted by Steph Papadakis was the first of its kind to break 9 seconds in the 1/4 mile.
Since the creation of that historic race car every thing that Shaun touched was a masterwork of fabrication. I still remember the Meguiar’s sponsored Ford Focus front wheel drive drag car he built and piloted. It was probably the most advanced front wheel drive drag car ever built. To my knowledge it was one of the first “sport compact” drag racers to use a sequential transmission and a turbocharger from a Champ Car! It was an awesome piece of machinery to say the least.
Then as sport compact drag racing started to ride off into the sunset, instead of going with it Shaun decided to take his skills to drifting with Sam Hubinette. He figured out how to make a Dodge Viper graceful and then he set the drift world on fire when he debuted what I consider to be his masterpiece, a Dodge Challenger Drift car. Unfortunately, the NuFormz drift team lost their Mopar sponsorship due to the economic downturn so we never got to see his latest creation smoke a single tire.
However, I digress. Shaun was more than his creations, as awesome as they were what was more awesome was who he was. Despite his success he never let it go to his head he was always willing to talk to anyone who shared a love for engineering, racing, or was just a fan of his team.
Though he was a competitive person he never let competition get in the way of helping out another. I remember back at the Red Bull World Drift Championships New Zeland driver “Mad Mike” busted the water pump on his 4 Rotor RX-7. It was none other than Shaun to the rescue. He aided Mike’s team in pin pointing the problem and then offered up his own shop to the team to get the car fixed. It didn’t matter that Mad Mike could have possibly taken Shaun’s driver out the competition. He just saw a problem that he knew he could help fix and did what he could to help.
That is who Shaun was and above all else that is what I am going to remember about him.
R.I.P. Shaun Carlson (1974-2009)