INDIANAPOLIS - Tim Clauson has experienced the Indianapolis 500 as a father - watching his son Bryan Clauson compete in the race three times. This May, he will experience the race in a whole new way.
Clauson-Marshall Racing, which fields entries in the USAC midget series and won USAC’s sprint car title in 2018, announced Feb. 27 that it will enter the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with Pippa Mann driving the team’s No. 39 Driven2SaveLives Chevrolet. The Clauson-Marshall Indy 500 entry is the first for the reigning USAC Sprint Car championship team since Jeff Stoops entered a car for Steve Butler in 1989.
“In 2012, it was a privilege to come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a dad to a driver who was competing in his first Indy 500,” said Clauson, who along with longtime short-track supporter Richard Marshall co-owns the team, which races in memory of Bryan Clauson. “Now, we are honored to have an entry in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
The team’s Indianapolis 500 entry is just part of a long-term plan Clauson-Marshall Racing has to have USAC standouts follow the steps of Bryan Clauson from dirt tracks to the Indianapolis 500 and NTT IndyCar Series. Clauson-Marshall Racing’s short-track drivers, Tyler Courtney, Zeb Wise and Chris Windom all attended the announcement to support the team’s effort.
“Merging our dirt programs with the Indy 500 program is very important to our future,” Tim Clauson said. “If you race, no matter what you’re racing, the dream is to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We got to do that with the dirt track team with the BC39 last year. We’ve talked about (an Indy 500 entry), but now it’s just become a little more real. As everyone talked about it and worked through the whole process, it all came together.”
The team couldn’t have found a better driver to help spread the message of organ donation promoted by its title sponsor Driven2SaveLives than Mann. The Englishwoman was a teammate of Bryan Clauson in his final Indianapolis 500 start in 2016 and the pair intended to reunite as teammates for Indy the following season.
Tim Clauson said seeing how Mann handled the disappointment of missing the Indianapolis 500 last year yet still supported her partners with Indiana Donor Network and Donate Life to honor his son made her the first and only choice - not only as Bryan’s dad but as a potential team owner.
“We wanted someone with experience here,” Tim Clauson said. “We as a family have been through the gauntlet of the motorsports world. Bryan started as a 5-year-old kid racing quarter midgets and the first year he qualified for Indy someone said, ‘You’ve lived it all. You’ve done it all in racing.’ And as strange as it sounds, I knew I truly hadn’t lived it all. When we lost Bryan, I had truly lived it all.
"It’s important to me to go racing with people who I think have the opportunity to have success in the race car, but also the same values that we all have as a family.”
And that the car will carry 39, a number that is synonymous with Bryan Clauson in short-track racing wasn’t lost on Clauson either.
“We hope we have a great experience with this thing and can grow it into something like Bryan did in 2012 and come here as a USAC guy,” Clauson said. “To think for a second that Bryan doesn’t have his hands all over this would be disingenuous.
"Someone brought to my attention that it’s been 39 years since a USAC national sprint car championship team made the field for the Indy 500. The 39 registers there. It’s Bryan telling us the time is right.”