INDIANAPOLIS — Zeb Wise will check off a dream two years in the making when he straps in to a midget for Clauson-Marshall Racing during the Jan. 14-19 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway.
When he does so, Wise will have a new partner onboard his No. 39bc Spike/Stanton SR-11X entry, as the Indiana Donor Network and its Driven2SaveLives initiative will join the talented teenager for a full season of competition.
The Indiana Donor Network will continue its partnership with Clauson-Marshall Racing for another year, after sponsoring the No. 7bc driven by Tyler Courtney this past season.
“The Driven2SaveLives campaign is an increasingly visible symbol for the donation message both here in Indiana and throughout the nation,” said Indiana Donor Network president and CEO Kellie Hanner. We are excited to advance our partnership with Clauson-Marshall Racing to continue educating race fans, registering donors and ultimately saving lives.”
Wise, a native of Angola, Ind., picked up his first USAC national victory last year at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in Pennsylvania. He will chase Chili Bowl rookie-of-the-year honors before embarking on his quest to secure the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series championship and end Keith Kunz Motorsports’ reign atop the standings.
“When you look at things, we’ve basically been preparing two years for one race,” said Wise, who turned 16 in November. “It’s the biggest event of the year for midget racing and to go there with a brand-new sponsor in my arsenal … but one that has been a part of this team for a while like Driven2SaveLives has been is really special.
“Me, Taylor (McLean) and everyone with the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives are really excited for next year and excited about the opportunity to work together for such an important cause.”
The Indiana Donor Network and IndyCar Series driver Stefan Wilson launched the Driven2SaveLives racing campaign in April of 2016 as a way to promote organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation.
However, it took on an expanded presence following three-time USAC national champion Bryan Clauson’s death from injuries suffered in a crash at the Belleville Midget Nationals in August of 2016.
Clauson was an organ and tissue donor, and his choice inspired thousands of others across the country to register as donors in his honor.
Both Wise — who was first noticed by the late Bryan Clauson several years ago — and team co-owner Tim Clauson recognize the special notes in the partnership between driver and sponsor.
“Everyone calls me ‘Bryan’s Last Pick,’ but to honor him and everyone at Driven2SaveLives by driving the No. 39bc is something I never could have imagined a few years ago,” noted Wise. “For me, this is a chance that I want to cherish and do as much as I can to support the cause.”
“My hope always is that when we bring on a young driver like Zeb, if he does his job that we’re able to do our job in getting our partners to believe in the same vision that we have,” added Tim Clauson. “To see that come to fruition in this situation is so rewarding, not only from a very personal front but from a professional standpoint as well. This is how we want this program to work for the kids that come into our team years into the future and we’re excited for the blueprint we’ve laid here.”