Michigan Racer Escapes With His Life After Driveline Failure

Michigan Racer Escapes With His Life After Driveline Failure

Let it not go unsaid that one can never over-prepare or over-build in order to keep themselves safe from the unexpected and the worst-case scenario.

In early August, Michigan drag racer Derek Shaw was severely injured when the driveshaft entered the cockpit of his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro while competing at a filming of All Out Live at the Lapeer International Dragway. As the clip here explains in detail, Shaw’s transmission locked up at the 1/4-mile finish stripe, stopping the driveshaft dead in its tracks, tearing it from the welded yoke, and twisting it like a piece of straw. This chain reaction sent the driveshaft  through the transmission tunnel, transmission blanket, and driveshaft loop and into the cockpit. You can visibly see the driveshaft strike the roof of the car through the windshield, but what isn’t evident from outside the car was its impact with his right hand, arm, and helmet.

Once at the hospital, the gravity of his injuries became apparent — his hand was shattered in numerous places, but was able to be saved by surgeons. His elbow required a host of surgeries to install plates and screws, in addition to skin grafts to repair what was lost in the incident. In all, Derek has endured eight surgeries, and more are expected.

Shaw’s ordeal illustrates how even the best-laid plans and strict adherence to sanctioning body rules can still be overcome by the laws physics and pure misfortune. Thankfully, he survived what could have been a tragic incident by taking those minimum standards into account, but already, he is making preparations to better protect the cockpit from another such incident. Shaw’s message is: “don’t let this happen to you,” because when you get down to it, anyone who steps foot in a racecar is susceptible to the unthinkable.

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