Championship-winning DN4 Can Am Shadow flips at Road America reunion

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Cameron Neveu

Vintage racer Jim Pace walked away from a high-flying crash at this past weekend’s Can-Am Shadow reunion when his 1974 Shadow DN4 floated off the track as it crested Road America’s famous straight. Once airborne, the wedged race car flipped back over onto its nose, upside down, and came crashing back down, sliding until it stopped about a quarter-mile from where it lifted off, according to witness reports.

Jim Bartel, the owner of chassis DN4-1A (the car Jackie Oliver won the Can-Am championship with in 1974), told Hagerty that the cardinal sin in Shadow aerodynamics was broken when Pace got too close to the leading Shadow car, driven by Kirt Bennett. “These cars create so much disturbance it is like running behind a barn door,” says Bartel.

Without clean air running over the nose to keep it planted, these flat-bottom sports cars have a tendency to funnel air underneath and lift. That’s just what happens the moment DN4-1A crested the hill, with bodywork blowing off simultaneously as the car took flight. Racing fans may remember this same type of incident happening to Jackie Oliver in the Ti 22 at Mont-Tremblant in 1970.

Pace was cleared by trackside medics and was reportedly no worse for wear that night at dinner. According to Bartel, his DN4 will be rebuilt, but we’ll have to wait until they can dive into the chassis to know the full extent of the work required.

DN4-1A was among the first of the DN4-generation of Shadows introduced by Don Nichols for the final season of Can-Am, the culmination of the past five years of the black-wedged warriors’ development, and is powered by a thundering big-block engine.

Through it all, Bartel hasn’t lost his sense of humor. “Looking at the bright side, even when the car was upside down, it was still ‘101’.”

Shadow DN4 Crash
Jarrett Matson
Shadow DN4 Crash
Jarrett Matson
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