Veteran road racer Rick Shaw was killed at Daytona International Speedway while instructing at a racing school.
Photography by Brian J. Nelson
The 65-year-old Shaw was a retired Miami/Dade police officer, who raced AMA road race Nationals for nearly 30 years. He was perhaps best known for breaking Warren Sherwood’s longstanding Daytona 200 mileage record in 2003. He also held the record number of starts and laps completed in the 200.
In an interview after that 2003 race Shaw talked about his emotions of breaking the mileage record in America’s oldest motorcycle race.
"I wanted to celebrate [on the record breaking lap], but I was trying to keep my head down," Shaw said. "I tried to get my hand up there and I just about lost it on the second lap trying to celebrate. Boy was that stupid. I put my head back down and went for it. It was an exciting lap. I felt it. Finally, the weight was lifted off me after the second lap and I could go out and race. I put some more pressure on myself to get this done."
Shaw's first Daytona 200 start was in 1981. He retired in 2006. Shaw fell in love with the heritage of the Daytona International Speedway, which made the mileage record a special moment in his life.
"I love it,” he said in a 2005 interview. “I'm very proud to be listed with the veterans and the pros, the people who made this sport the greatest sport in the world. It's an honor. I hope I can live up to their image. I appreciate having the record. It's been a thrill and an honor to be able to race here against all of the people. If you think about all the champions who have raced here in the Daytona 200 the past 25 years, I've had the honor to race with some of the best in the world and the best that motorcycle racing has seen in a truly golden era of superbike and Formula One racing."
Shaw amassed 3728.33 miles in three decades of racing the Daytona 200. Ricky Orlando broke Shaw’s mileage record in 2011.
Shaw had been an instructor for years with not only the Team Hammer School, but also the Penguin School and the Track Day School.
A statement by John Ulrich of Team Hammer Advanced Riding School read:
“Everyone at Team Hammer Advanced Riding School is saddened following the tragic loss of student Eric Desy and long-time instructor and former professional racer Rick Shaw at Daytona International Speedway. Rider safety is at the very forefront of all we do and our track record at Daytona speaks for itself. Over the last two decades more than 5000 students have gone through our advanced riding school program at the Speedway, without major incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out for the families of Eric and Rick. Eric was a passionate motorcycle enthusiast and amateur racer who was very excited to be riding at Daytona. Rick was an excellent instructor and a great friend. His riding resume at Daytona was outstanding, and for many years he held the record for the most miles raced in the Daytona 200. He really enjoyed sharing his knowledge and experience, and he was very popular with our students. We are fully committed to providing a safe, thrilling and unforgettable riding school for our students and will carefully review our processes and procedures closely to see if there is anything we can improve in the future.
Godspeed, Eric Desy. Godspeed, Rick Shaw.”
Daytona International Speedway also issued a statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the riders and their families, and we are deeply saddened by their loss. Rick Shaw in particular had a long history of racing at Daytona, and for several years held the record for most miles raced in the Daytona 200. He was loved by many in the motorcycle community and we will miss him greatly.
“The safety of fans and competitors is always our top priority and we work closely with event officials to ensure the best safety protocols are in place and followed. Team Hammer Advanced Riding School has an outstanding track record of safety at Daytona International Speedway, hosting thousands of riders since the early 1990s. Whenever an unfortunate incident does occur at our facility, we take the opportunity to learn and refine any event procedures.”