TULSA, Okla. – Three years ago, the late Bryan Clauson had a vision for an all-star team of drivers that would come together in January to tackle midget racing’s ultimate test, the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
Tragically, Clauson never got to see his vision become reality, but his father Tim was determined to carry out his late son’s wishes and make sure his dream became reality.
Thus, BC’s Dream Team was born ahead of the 2017 Chili Bowl.
Clauson-Marshall Racing’s roster that year was six drivers strong, with decorated credentials across the board. Included on the team were multi-time World of Outlaws sprint car champion Donny Schatz and then-defending Knoxville Nationals winner Jason Johnson.
Four of the half-dozen made the Saturday A-main that year, with two drivers – Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant – winning their preliminary nights and giving Tim Clauson a needed boost just months after losing his son. Grant went on to extend the team’s success, finishing third in the Saturday night finale.
It was the completion of a mission that Bryan Clauson had wanted nothing more than to see carried out. It also remains, to this day, a week that is forever embedded in Tim Clauson’s thoughts and memories.
“The first year of the Dream Team was probably the most special to me, with the six drivers that we had that year,” Tim Clauson told SPEED SPORT. “Bryan had started that process before his accident, and the number one guy he had wanted in that lineup was Donny (Schatz). He had been bugging him for four or five years; it was a ritual that Bryan would ask him about whether he would run the Chili Bowl. For Donny to think about it and then tell Bryan in July that he was going to do that … I’ll never forget that.
“That first time we did it will always be the most meaningful, because it truly was a team of badass race car drivers, but as the program has continued and grown I’ve been equally honored to see some of the younger talent that we’ve had join our team find success with us as well. It’s truly been a privilege.”
After the quick success of the Dream Team initiative in 2017, the program returned for a second year last January, this time with eight drivers in tow and just as much talent.
Included in that lineup was teenager Gio Scelzi, who went on to win Chili Bowl Rookie of the Year honors, as well as Ryan Bernal, who charged from a B-main transfer position to a top-five finish on Saturday night.
It was a continuation of the Clausons’ desire to find the best and brightest stars in the motorsports world to join their all-star cast of characters.
“If you look back, we had Jason Johnson after he won Knoxville, and then the story grew after we put (Justin) Grant in one of our cars last minute and he went out to have the success that he had … even though we had NASCAR guys lined up to get in that car,” Clauson continued. “Bryan’s mission with this initiative was always to get the best guys that would give us the best shot at winning the Chili Bowl.”