For those of you that don't follow me on social media or have missed my recent posts, shares, retweets about Bryan Clauson "BC" I will fill you in. After the race in the Philippines on Sunday I found out that Bryan was involved in a serious crash in Belleville, Kansas and was airlifted to a local hospital. I went to bed only knowing that he was in critical condition and nothing more. I woke up in the middle of the night (4am) to some false reporting on social media that Bryan had passed. I was shaken up and could not believe the news. I called my Dad, cried for a while, then we found out the news was false. I eventually made it back to sleep, but still had Bryan and his whole family on my mind.
I flew out midday on Monday to Korea and there were still no updates. After landing in Korea, I received the news that Bryan had indeed passed. I very slowly stumbled through the airport in disbelief. During that long walk from the plane to customs, I thought back of all the memories I had with Bryan. We were childhood friends and raced (quartermidgets) against each other a few times (he was 3 years younger so mainly raced in different divisions). I can count on 1 finger, yes 1 finger, how many times I beat Bryan. That was just another day in his racing career, that was a HIGHLIGHT of my racing career. That is the kind of kid BC was when we were younger, everyone wanted to beat him. If you could beat BC you had beaten one of the best.
The Clauson family ended up moving to Indiana which gave Bryan some amazing racing opportunities at a young age. For the next 6 years I honestly can't remember how many times we saw them, maybe a few times at most. I started crossing paths with Bryan and his family again once I entered the Air Force. In January of 2005 I somehow managed to rent a car at the age of 18 in Wichita Falls, Texas (Sheppard AFB) and I drove up to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Chili Bowl. The Chili Bowl is by far the greatest race in dirt track racing, hands down. I got a speeding ticket on the way there, ended up sleeping on the floor of Brian Gard's hotel room (another Quartermidget Alumni). I remember showing up to the Chili Bowl and Bryan was teamed up with JJ Yeley that year (if I remember correctly), which meant their whole pit area was gated off to keep the spectators out. I eventually saw Tim Clauson (Bryan's dad) and he invited me back in there to hang out, this is the kind of family the Clausons are. Although we hadn't seen each other in years, they still welcomed me with open arms like family. This was no different any other time I would see them around the country.
Over the next 11 years, I would cross paths with Bryan and get to watch him race. I was there to see his first ARCA race, caught him down in Florida for a sprint car race, managed to catch him in an Outlaw race in Tucson Arizona, and a few times when he would come back to California and I would happen to be home. Then in 2013 I took my dad to the Chili Bowl so that he could experience the amazing race. Just like 2005, the Clauson family welcomed us into their pit area and treated us like family. This is what the Quartermidget Family was all about when we grew up. There were bonds and friendships that were made, that have continued on even after we have all went different ways in life.
Bryan wasn't only a "bad ass race car driver", he was one of the good guys. He was humble, genuine, a true sportsman, helped many, loved his family and was one of those guys that you hope that your kid grows up to be like. I looked forward to taking Asher to the races when he was older, I wanted him to meet BC, I wanted to see BC continue to chase his dreams and "Park It" at the biggest races in his sport. I looked forward to attending an Indy 500, taking my Dad and son, and being a part of the crazy double he was doing with Indy and Kokomo. Unfortunately those days will not come, it hurts, it sucks and I am still in disbelief.
I continue to think about his family; Tim, Di, Taylor & Zach, his fiancé Lauren, and his best friend Ben. I can't imagine what you guys are all going through, but it has been amazing to see the support from the racing family & community, and I hope that helps ease things as it shows just how big of an impact BC had and so many people he influenced.
But out of the many videos that have been posted about Bryan, this quote stands out the most, and it puts me at ease, it makes this hard thing just a little bit easier to handle and grasp.
"If I left tomorrow I left my mark on this sport. You know we have been able to be successful in all forms, whether it be non-wing, midget racing, and to a lesser extent but starting to be a little more successful on the wing side."
If you don't know Bryan or even if you do, I ask that you take a few minutes and watch this video. Robin Miller does a great job of telling the story of BC. Get to know that "bad ass race car driver".
Bryan happened to be an organ donor and saved 5 lives, you can read more HERE. If you are not an organ donor please consider becoming one. Even if you are registered in your state you can still register on the national registry. You can do so in honor of Bryan by signing up HERE.
Now that you have a bit of backstory about Bryan and the impact he had, I hope you understand why the race this weekend had me extra motivated to do well, I was racing for BC. I had been waiting to tag BC in a simple tweet after my first win, something unrelated to triathlon, but something that he started. That message just came 7 days too late. This one's for you BC, #Parkedit.