Thoughts On Bryan Clauson’s Passing

It’s weird when a racer dies and you look at their birth and death dates. Granted, it’s a given in motorsports that despite our best efforts to ensure the safety of our drivers, no matter how evolved the safety features are, no matter how strong the integrity of the car is, no matter how well everyone did their job making sure the car was the very best it could be, there are going to be freak accidents and drivers will be hurt and on a few tragic occasions killed.

But still, looking at Bryan Clauson’s birth and death dates, it’s jarring. June 15, 1989 – August 7, 2016. He wasn’t even a year younger than me. At 27, he should still be around, continuing to solidify his status as a racer’s racer, getting behind the wheel of anything and everything and beating the competition senseless. He was an excellent driver and had the fan following, the respect of his peers, and the trophies to prove it. This guy was supposed to be the next Steve Kinser or Danny Lasoski.

Yet here we are, early in the morning of August 8, 2016, mourning the loss of another fantastic racer. It’s not right. It makes no sense at all.

I used to be so jealous of this guy when I first heard of him during my sophomore year of college. While I was up to my neck dealing with classes and homework and things of that nature, this guy was taking the green flag at places like Texas and Daytona and doing an excellent job behind the wheel at that. His NASCAR career may not have bloomed, but his resume was pretty impressive.

He won the Turkey Night Grand Prix in 2009 and 2010. He won the Chili Bowl in 2014. He was a three-time (2010, 2011, 2015) USAC Midget champion. He was a three-time (2010-’12) USAC National Drivers Champion. He was a two-time (2012-’13) USAC National Sprint Car Series champion. He was a prolific Sprint Car and Midget driver, in case you couldn’t tell.

But there’s much more. Not only did he make three starts in the Indianapolis 500, but he became the first driver to win a feature race the same day as running the Indianapolis 500 this year when he wheeled a Sprint Car to victory at Kokomo Speedway just hours after finishing 23rd in the Indy 500. It’s also pretty neat to point out that he also managed to lead a few laps at Indy as well.

Of course, can’t forget the 2016 “Circular Insanity” Tour. The gist of it was simple: Compete in 200 races in 2016, including wingless Sprint Cars, Midgets, World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, and the Indianapolis 500. Traveling from track to track in an RV, Clauson’s plan epitomized the old-school racer’s mantra of “race anything, anytime, anywhere.” That’s what was so awesome about him. He loved racing, no matter what, and also happened to be damn good at it.

Yet now he’s gone.

You think about the fallout. You think about his family, including his fiancee Lauren. Your heart breaks for them because you can’t even fathom just how great and terrible their loss truly is. You think about his fellow competitors. You think about the Midgets they were racing when he crashed and you can’t help but wonder what, if anything, can be done to prevent another tragedy like this from happening.

It’s an ugly whirlwind of confusion and emotion and heartbreak. It will never pass over or go away completely. The most it will do is mellow out, maybe subside a bit. But two years, three years down the road our hearts will still be heavy when we think about Clauson and what could have been.

We’re going to mourn, and there’s no set time on that. All we can do is keep our eyes straight ahead, stay strong, and soldier on until we see the sun rise again. I’m sure it’s what he would have wanted. Until then, my heart goes out to the Clauson family. Race in peace, Bryan.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Joseph Shelton
Joseph Shelton
Husband to Stacie and Daddy to Dexter, Aeris, Meredith, and furbabies Lola,Tiny, Lucy, Genesis, Lily, Tommy The Cat, and Ace. Ardent race fan and serious Braves baseball lover.


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