SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — At a race track where legends are born, fans shared in sadness Monday over one who died.
“We all come together and grieve, grieve together for the loss of one of our own,” said racing fan Bethany Eubanks. She was one of several people who met outside Gate One at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to start a memorial for Bryan Clauson, the 27-year-old driver who died after a crash at a United States Auto Club race in Kansas.
“Everyone was very concerned right away knowing the high speeds and such that were involved with the race track there in Belleville, Kansas,” said USAC race car driver Davey Ray who often competed against Clauson. “As a competitor we hate to lose anyone involved in a motor sport incident. This one certainly hits home with Bryan being a champion of USAC.”
Clauson’s talent on dirt tracks earned him the chance to race in the Indy 500 three times, but how he finished isn’t how fans remember him.
“He was one of the easier guys to approach because he wasn’t a superstar yet,” said fan Brock Banta. “He was really friendly, took actually time to really talk to you and when he asked a question he wanted a response and wanted to know how you’re doing.”
And when he wasn’t winning over fans, he was busy winning races on dirt tracks across the world.
“Certainly just had a lot of natural talent and at a very young age,” said Ray. The two also shared a unique experience last month when IMS hosted a dirt track exhibition to honor Tony Stewart.
“Bryan was one of the guys you could run wheel to wheel with and never have a bobble or an issue, so certainly one of the most respected of our time and we’re all going to miss him,” said Ray.
Fans like Banta were devastated by Clauson’s death. It was nearly one year ago they were outside Gate One paying their respects to Justin Wilson, the IndyCar driver who died after debris from a crash struck him during a race.
“It’s definitely tragic, and it’s hard to deal with. and I’m sure it’s part of the appeal that motor sport has internationally is how close they push themselves to the edge,” Banta said. “Justin [Wilson] and Bryan and Dan [Wheldon], nicest guys you could ever meet in the paddock. They always loved their fans, they’re always smiling.”
A memorial service for Clauson will be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but a date hasn’t been set.