KNOXVILLE, Iowa — A special project more than a year in the making will see the checkered flag on Wednesday when the grand opening of the Bryan Clauson Suite Tower takes place at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Bryan Clauson Suite Tower features 12 new suites overlooking turn two at Knoxville Raceway, and will honor the memory and legacy of its namesake — Bryan Clauson, a three-time USAC national champion, Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals winner and three-time Indy 500 starter.
Those were just a few of Clauson’s accomplishments before his legendary career was cut short at age 27, when he died Aug. 7, 2016 from injuries suffered in a crash the previous night at the Belleville (Kan.) Highbanks.
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Executive Director Bob Baker told SPEED SPORT the purpose of the new building is two-fold, with Clauson at its center.
“The two main goals that we set out to accomplish when we started this project were that first, we wanted to do something to honor Bryan’s legacy in racing and second, we wanted to do something for the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum to preserve the longevity of the history that’s housed here and ensure its financial stability for many years to come,” Baker explained.
“It’s not just about Bryan’s legacy in sprint car racing or midget racing … he raced the Indy 500, he raced stock cars … he did it all. But besides just being a great race car driver, Bryan was a great humanitarian,” Baker continued. “He cared for people, he was a very easy person to talk with and all of us that sat down to talk about bringing this building to life wanted to do something to remember Bryan that would bring back people’s memories as well as be a project that would help to keep this place — a place that Bryan loved so much and kept so close to his heart — going for years and generations to come so that others could share in the same joy and knowledge that Bryan did each time he and his family would come here.”
The Hall of Fame and Museum, located on the Marion County Fairgrounds outside of turn two at Knoxville Raceway, is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring the history of sprint car racing. Its motto, “Promoting the future by preserving the past,” was arguably taken no more seriously by a racer who truly understood it than Clauson.
Clauson was a scholar of the sport and a racer who would race anything, anytime and anywhere. He knew what the Hall of Fame and Museum meant and always appreciated that each time he walked through its doors.
“Bryan loved this place; he loved everything about it,” recalled Baker. “He felt the history here, his dad (Tim Clauson) felt the history here and Bryan was passionate about wanting fans and others involved in the sport to appreciate that history because he appreciated it so much and knew what it meant.”
“He knew that this sport was built on racers that came long before he raced and that was something that was important to him and always stuck with him.”