By Mark Ambrogi
For NBC Sports Network IndyCar reporter Robin Miller, all one needed to know about Bryan Clauson is how he spent Memorial Day weekend.
After finishing 23rd in the Indy 500 May 29, Clauson went to Kokomo Speedway that night and won the 30-lap sprint-car feature race.
“That was a cool thing for him,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of people that don’t have much fun in life, and Bryan Clauson had fun every day. The old cliché is we’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time, and he had a good time.”
Clauson, 27, died Aug. 7, a day following a devastating crash in the Belleville (Kan.) Midget Nationals race.
Miller said the 2007 Noblesville High School graduate was comfortable racing on a wide variety of tracks in different forms of cars.
“He won everywhere he raced,” said Miller, adding with the right program and equipment, the three-time Indy 500 starter would have been a successful IndyCar driver, too.
Conor Daly, who grew up in Noblesville, had known Clauson for years.
“The guy was humble and truly loved what he was doing,” Daly said. “He was a true racer, through and through. He wanted to drive anything that had four wheels.”
They shared a car on the Indy Lights team in 2011, with Daly running the road course races and Clauson running ovals.
“It was a cool relationship starting from there,” Daly said. “It was interesting to see him get in and be competitive immediately. He was definitely a different breed.”
Off the track, the loss is even greater.
“He was a great soul,” Daly said.
Clauson’s quest was to run 200 races this year. Belleville was his 116th race.
Clauson is survived by his parents, Tim and Diana; sister, Taylor; and fiancée, Lauren Stewart.
A family statement read, “Our Bryan fought to the end with the same desire that he demonstrated behind the wheel of all the various racecars he would park in victory lane. However, we were more proud of our Bryan that took a moment to make a young fan’s day, or demonstrated his uncommon kindness and appreciation toward his friends, family and fans.”
A service will be conducted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at a later date.
Clauson, who bought a house in Noblesville last year with Stewart, planned to get married in February.
“The world knew him as a talented driver, but off the track, he was an even better person,” Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear stated. “He brought so much joy to our community as we watched him grow through the driving ranks and participate in some of the sport’s biggest races. His presence and humble smile will be missed.”
Clauson moved from California with his family to Noblesville when he was starting fifth grade.
“He will always be remembered as our friend, classmate, teammate, and, of course, our favorite racer,” NHS Principal Jeff Bryant said.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that people direct their contributions to the USAC Benevolent Fund website at usacbf.org/cash-donation/, or checks should be made to the USAC Benevolent Foundation in the name of Bryan Clauson. The address is 124 E. Northfield Dr., Suite F #129, Brownsburg, IN 46112.