TULSA, Okla. – When the late Bryan Clauson’s name was called for induction into this year’s class of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, his fiancé Lauren Stewart was among those who wasn’t expecting it.
In fact, she hadn’t even arrived at the Tulsa Expo Center when the announcement was made during Chili Bowl Tuesday by museum executive director Bob Baker.
But despite those points, Stewart was beyond appreciative of the honor bestowed to Clauson and what it means to both her and his family to see one of his biggest dreams realized.
“I actually didn’t know it was coming; I got to Tulsa (Wednesday) afternoon because I recently started school again, so I had class on Monday and Tuesday (of Chili Bowl week),” Stewart told Race Chaser Online during the Chili Bowl Nationals. “I was watching the RacinBoys broadcast on Tuesday night … and I thought I head Bryan’s name in the background, and about five seconds later my phone blew up with texts and Tweets and everything.”
“Bob Baker sent me a message right away that said, ‘Hey, exciting news; we just announced that Bryan’s getting inducted’ … so it was just a really special moment. Certainly one we weren’t expecting so soon.”
Stewart added that seeing Clauson inducted alongside the likes of fellow sprint car driving legends Lance Dewease and Dave Steele, as well as multi-time champion crew chief Scott Gerkin, only heightened the sense of awe at the news.
“When I saw the class that he’s getting inducted with … Lance Dewease, Dave Steele, Scott Gerkin … it’s crazy,” she admitted. “It’s amazing that he’s going in with those guys, in the same group.”
“Looking at Bryan’s picture alongside Dewease’s, it took me back to last summer (2016) when we raced PA Speedweek and he was racing with Lance, who’s king out in that area. That was always one of Bryan’s prevailing qualities – the respect that he had for his competitors. He’d race you hard, but he’d race you clean. … That’s definitely one thing I miss seeing on the race track, but the fact that people continue to honor him and give him the recognition he deserves is something that we’re all grateful for.”
Clauson’s sprint car resume includes two USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series championships (2012-2013) and 41 career series wins, ranking him seventh on the all-time list. He was also named the non-winged 410ci sprint car Driver of the Year by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2013.
His father Tim was also caught off-guard when his son’s name was called for induction, but he always knew that at some point, the nod would come.
“It’s one of those things where you hope (it will happen), but you never really know,” admitted Tim Clauson. “Bryan had a line in an interview he did a few years ago where he said, ‘I’m just a guy who loves racing, and I’ll let (the industry) decide where I rank or where I am in the sport’ … and that was just him. That was always who he was.”
“To get into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame is obviously very huge, and a humbling accomplishment. The first time Bryan and I ever walked in there, years ago, I asked him ‘What do you think?’ He looked back at me and said, ‘Maybe someday, dad.’”
“I’m happy that someday has come, because he so deserves it for all he’s accomplished.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 24-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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