|Shaun Carlson finished top five in three consecutive seasons in the NHRA Sport Compact Series before joining Don Schumacher's Pro Stock team in 2006 (photo: National Dragster/NHRA).|
The motorsports and specialty-equipment industries lost a young innovator when fabricator, driver, team owner and sport compact icon Shaun Carlson died Sunday, October 4.
Carlson established himself as a top fabricator when he built the first front-drive Honda—piloted by Stephan Papadakis—to claim a 9-second timeslip. Carlson later took the wheel himself, winning two events in the NHRA Sport Compact Series Pro FWD class and finishing in the top five in each season from 2003-2005.
Carlson got a taste of NHRA Pro Stock racing in 2004 when he subbed for injured driver Darrell Alderman, then joined Don Schumacher Racing's Pro Stock team in 2006. Carlson struggled in Pro Stock, qualifying once in 15 attempts, but excelled in a fabrication and engineering role with the team.
Carlson formed NuFormz Racing and maintained the Mopar Viper Competition Coupe driven by Sam Hubinette to the first Formula D Drift Series Championship in 2004. Hubinette and Carlson teamed for another series championship in 2006, and finished in the top five in five consecutive seasons.
Carlson suffered three heart attacks earlier this year and was diagnosed with Brugada syndrome, a genetic disease that disrupts the heart’s electrical system and can cause fatal arrhythmias. It's unclear whether this was the cause of death. Carlson was 35 years old.
Before Carlson took to the professional drag strip, he was an accomplished staff photographer and writer for enthusiast magazines like Turbo and Mini Truckin'.
“Everyone enjoyed having Shaun around the office,” says writer/photographer Rob Hallstrom, who worked with Carlson at McMullen-Yee (later McMullen Argus) Publishing. “He was the punky young kid who always wore a big smile. A true car nut and gear head, he was always on the cutting edge of trends and his enthusiasm wore off on us all.”
“Shaun was bright, easy-going and funny, but took certain things like photography and fabrication very seriously,” says Evan Griffey, Carlson’s colleague during Turbo magazine’s start-up days. “He was a big part of Turbo's success, then made the jump to start NuFormz and the rest—Honda block guards, CNC machines, drifting championships—is history.”
For more on Carlson’s achievements, read the NHRA’s tribute to this young innovator.
Memorial services are schedule for Monday, October 12 at Calvary Chapel, Chino Valley, 12205 N. Pipeline Ave., Chino, California, 91710. Services begin at 1:00 p.m.