Monday, August 8, 2016

RIP Bryan Clauson

The sport of auto racing is inherently dangerous; but, it's easy to forget and bury that fact in the back of one's mind... until the unthinkable happens, that is.  Unfortunately, as of this morning, the unthinkable has happened.

At the tender young age of 27 (it's always sobering to hear about someone dying at my age), Indy 500 veteran, former NASCAR driver and prolific, championship short-track racer Bryan Clauson passed away from injuries sustained in a crash during yesterday's Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas.  Immediately after taking the lead, Clauson clipped a slower vehicle and flipped wildly before an approaching driver slammed headlong into his cockpit.  He was quickly airlifted to a nearby hospital, but passed away late last night.

In an eerie bit of foreshadowing, the Indiana native had narrowly avoided serious injury in a violent crash just the night before, at the very same track.

As a longtime fan of auto racing, especially of the Indy 500 and NASCAR, this was an especially jarring story to follow as it developed.  Just a few months previously, I was watching Bryan turn laps in preparation for the 100th running of the Indy 500, in the midst of his stated mission of competing in 200 races during the 2016 season.  It's obvious that Bryan was truly a racer, a throwback to the days before corporate sponsorship and million dollar deals, when drivers would regularly jump into any type of car they could get their hands on.

Clauson making a run at the pole during this year's Indy 500 festivities.
Image courtesy of

During his career, Clauson won four USAC national championships, two in sprint cars and two more in midgets, competed in three Indy 500s (leading three laps), won a stock car race as part of the ARCA series, and qualified on the pole for NASCAR Xfinity Series and Indy Lights races. Obviously, he was a versatile talent.

All told, since I began visiting Indianapolis on my yearly pilgrimage in 2003, Bryan is the fifth competitor to pass away in an on-track accident:  Tony Renna, Paul Dana, Dan Wheldon and Justin Wilson proceeded him.  Jason Leffler, who competed just a few seasons prior (2000), has also been taken from us.

Racing is a dangerous sport.

RIP Bryan.

1 comment:

  1. I had not heard about this, but it's always sad to lose a driver, especially such a young one. Some of these wrecks you see involve cars flipping end-over-end with parts flying everywhere, and the driver is fine. Then something like this happens to remind you just how much these drivers put themselves at risk.