Bryan Clauson honored with IndyCar Fan Favorite Award

The late Bryan Clauson’s family appeared on stage tonight at the Verizon IndyCar Series awards banquet after fans voted the three-time Indy 500 starter – and dirt-track superstar – as their favorite.

Bryan Clauson honored with IndyCar Fan Favorite Award
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Bryan Clauson
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Bryan Clauson, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Bryan Clauson's fiancée Lauren Stewart and his family
A sticker remembering Bryan Clauson
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Dale Coyne Racing announces drivers for 2016, Bryan Clauson and Conor Daly
Bryan Clauson, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Bryan Clauson
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Clauson made three starts at the Indianapolis 500 – 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartmann Racing, and then in 2015 and ’16 with Jonathan Byrd’s Racing in partnership with KV Racing and Dale Coyne Racing, respectively. This year, in the 100th running of the Indy 500, he led laps and finished the race only two laps down.

When Clauson left Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the race, he headed straight to the dirt track at Kokomo, IN. 60 miles away, where he won a sprint car race that night. Clauson competed in midget, winged and non-wing sprint cars as he attempted to race 200 events during the 2016 season.

Tragically it wasn’t to be, as in August, Clauson died from injuries sustained in an accident in the Belleville Nationals in Kansas. It was his 116th race of the year and he was leading. A registered organ donor, Clauson was able to sustain the lives of five others.

Conor Daly, one of his teammates at Coyne for this year’s Indy 500, introduced the Clauson family on stage.

He said: “Bryan and I both grew up in Noblesville, Indiana, but we both took very different paths to eventually end up as teammates at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. I always heard countless stories of Bryan Clauson, the legend, as I went through high school, because our high schools were not that far apart. But I first got to know him when I shared an Indy Lights car with him in 2011.”

This was reference to the season in which Daly was racing full time in the GP3 championship in Europe, but also part-time for Sam Schmidt in Indy Lights; Clauson used the same car to amass six starts on ovals in Daly’s absence, as he strove to prepare himself for a possible Indy 500 start one day. Remarkably he scored four top-five finishes including a podium finish at Iowa, and the work paid off, as he was signed up by Sarah Fisher to run her extra chassis at the 2012 Indy 500.

Daly continued: “You could always tell Bryan had such a strong positive impact on the racing world because everyone across the sport was happy to see him get a shot in the Indy 500. It was a true pleasure getting to work with Bryan this year at Indy and to see the whole crowd and everyone around us support him and love seeing him there. He was and forever will be a driver to look up to, a person to strive to be like, and a hero.”

Daly then welcomed on stage Bryan’s fiancée Lauren Stewart, along with his sister Taylor, brother-in-law Zach McLean and mom Diana.

Said Lauren: “I’m going to do my best to wing it. Bryan was really good at this so I hope I make him proud here.

“Bryan would start off by saying he’s not really an IndyCar driver, and so he would be honored that you would think of him as one. So to IndyCar, thank you for inviting us tonight, thank you for honoring our Bryan.

“To all you fans who voted every day for weeks on end, thank you so much. Bryan loved you. He loved his fans, he loved getting to meet all of you, loved interacting with you.

“Bryan would also congratulate Simon Pagenaud. Norman [Pagenaud’s dog] can finally take Chevy [Clauson’s dog] on a date now – we can arrange that! Bryan would also joke that Hinch [James Hinchcliffe] is the most popular driver. He’s on Dancing With The Stars, so he should be up here.

“And I’d just like to thank everyone who gave Bryan an opportunity to race at the Speedway, the big track. Bryan put the weight of the dirt-track world on his shoulders and made us all so proud, every time he strapped into an IndyCar. It wouldn’t have been possible without everyone at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, KVSH and Dale Coyne.

"He made three ‘500’ starts that we’ll treasure forever. And we’re so sorry he won’t get the chance to do more.

“But I can’t wait to be around you, and it’s so great to be here. Thank you guys for having us, and fans – thank you for letting Bryan park it one more time.”

The family left the stage to a standing ovation.

 

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