INDIANAPOLIS – The Driven2SaveLives BC39 powered by NOS Energy Drink is an event that was created in honor of late USAC star Bryan Clauson, a race he dreamed of seeing come to fruition for so long.
A three-time Indianapolis 500 starter and renowned short-track competitor, Clauson had tugged on the sleeve of Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles for years before his untimely passing in August of 2016, trying to get a dirt track built inside the famed 2.5-mile IMS oval.
Finally, last September, that dream of Clauson’s was realized.
Because of who the race tributes and why it was created, the BC39 is an event that is close to the heart of all four of the full-time USAC drivers competing for Clauson-Marshall Racing, the team co-owned by Clauson’s father Tim and businessman Richard Marshall that was launched in the wake of his passing.
It arguably gets no bigger for a driver than Clauson’s longtime friend Tyler Courtney, who was one of the closest in the dirt pits to Clauson and was quick to nod to Clauson’s mentoring in his early racing days.
“This is … I’m sure the word special will get said a lot this week, but there’s not enough different words for that to explain what it means to me, to us, to this team,” said Courtney, the current USAC National Midget point leader. “I got to watch him run an Indy car on the big track here, and then obviously I got to be a part of a lot of his success in the dirt track ranks. I got to be a part of his first major championship and a lot of stuff like that. He mentored me along the way and formed me into what I’ve become today.
“It means a lot to get to race in his honor, and to do it at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I think, is the cherry on top. Bryan loved this place.”
Second-year USAC driver Zeb Wise was Clauson’s final selection as a development driver before his death, and Wise repaid that selection with a win in the Stoops Pursuit race on the IMS dirt a year ago.
If not for Clauson, Wise might not even be at the level he is right now, making a potential BC39 victory even more meaningful in the 16-year-old’s eyes.
“I tell people this a lot, but if it wasn’t for Bryan believing in me, I probably wouldn’t be driving a midget, especially for Tim Clauson and Clauson Marshall Racing,” Wise said. “To race in his honor, not only at a race he basically started and wanted to have happen, but to race in honor of his number, to be his last development pick … it’s kind of breathtaking, for me, to look back and realize what’s all happening once the car hits the race track.
“Then when you add having Driven2SaveLives on board, that’s just one more thing, with them being the title sponsor of the race,” Wise continued. “It’s unbelievable to be able to roll out there and race in his honor, and we just want to carry on his legacy as much as we can.”
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