The owner of Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) died after he jumped into the water to swim while boating with his family in Florida, but he did not resurface, authorities said.
Multiple search and rescue teams on Sunday afternoon were called to an area near the Sanibel Causeway off the coast of Fort Myers on a report of a person who went into the water. The search was suspended late Sunday and when it resumed Monday morning authorities recovered the body of Jed Copham near a boat ramp in Punta Rassa, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said.
Copham, 46, had owned the raceway since 2006.
“This is a tragic and sad day for Brainerd International Raceway, the entire racing community and the Brainerd Lakes Area,” BIR spokesman Geoff Gorvin said in a statement. “Everyone here is still in shock and trying to make sense out of it.”
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating but that “there appears to be no criminal aspect to the investigation.”
Copham was in Fort Myers on a long weekend to visit his parents who live there, Gorvin said.
Copham was a passionate racer and focused on ways to improve the track and safety systems while presenting a variety of motor sports for fans. His greatest achievement was building a section of track that separated BIR’s road course from the drag strip. The addition allowed BIR to offer drag racing and road racing simultaneously, Gorvin said in a statement posted on the raceway’s website.
Copham also installed a new ticketing system to help get fans into the raceway faster and alleviate traffic jams that often developed on Hwy. 371.
“Jed was the face of BIR and spared no expense to improve the track, infrastructure and the entire experience at BIR,” Gorvin said. “Nobody championed motor sports like Jed did.”
He is survived by his wife of 18 years, Kristi, children Alyssa and Ayden, and parents Dave and Cheryl Copham.