Kofoid & Clauson Family & Boles
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles, with Bryan Clauson's family (sister Taylor McLean and parents Tim and Diana Clauson) and last year's BC 39 winner Buddy Kofoid. (Frank Smith photo)

Bryan Clauson: The Heart Of The BC39

INDIANAPOLIS — There are many factors that must come together in order for the Driven2SaveLives BC39 to be a success.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, USAC, more than 70 racers, dozens of teams and the Indiana Donor Network are only a few pieces of the puzzle. 

But at the heart of it all is one individual — the late Bryan Clauson.

“When we started this event five years ago, it was a way for us as a family and also for IMS to be able to honor Bryan and his love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his love for dirt track racing and specifically midget racing,” explained Taylor McLean, Clauson’s sister.

Clauson, a five-time USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter, died from injuries suffered in a midget racing crash at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks in 2016.

Clauson was an organ donor. Inspired by his example, the family started the Driven2SaveLives program in 2017, which encourages race fans to become organ donors.

“Since then, we’ve had over 7,000 race fans decide that they would like to sign up as organ donors,” McLean said last December. “There are over 100,000 people nationwide waiting for lifesaving transplants. You can save eight lives as an organ donor. Heal 75 others through tissue donation. So it’s incredible that the racing community in and of itself has the impact to cut that wait list by half.”

The BC39 was then built to help bring awareness to the program, as well as to honor Clauson’s legacy and contributions to the motorsports community.

The inaugural running of the midget racing event was held at The Dirt Track at IMS in 2018 during NASCAR weekend at the speedway.

2016 05 06 Eldora Usac Bryan Clauson Paul Arch Photo Dsc 6572 (411)
Bryan Clauson in a USAC sprint car at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in 2016. (Paul Arch photo)

For the first three years, the BC39 was a two-night event. Last year, it expanded to three days. This season, the BC39 is a standalone event with a four-night format, featuring a Stoops Pursuit race, two split preliminary nights and a 39-lap finale on Saturday.   

“All of this comes down to one person and that’s Bryan. One thing that he did really well when he was here was he put good people together,” McLean said.

One individual who has been instrumental in seeing the BC39 continue to grow year after year is Doug Boles, president of IMS. 

“When we announced the BC39 and had our first race in 2018, we knew we wanted it to be one of those pillars in short track racing that everybody wanted to come to, even if you weren’t a midget racer full time,” Boles said. 

One of the leading forces behind making the BC39 a standalone event this year, rather than a lead-in to NASCAR, was to further elevate its prestige as a dirt-track crown jewel.

A second purpose for the expanded schedule was to help it better suit long-distance drivers.

“We get so many cars that come from all over the country, to have somebody tow from California to Indianapolis, get a practice session and then a heat race and then maybe go home, it feels really difficult,” Boles said. “So we wanted to give people an opportunity to get some more track time and make it worthwhile for people to come.”

Of the 72 drivers on the entry list this year, there are 20 different states represented — everywhere from California to Texas to Florida to Pennsylvania.

For McLean, to watch dozens of racers file into the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the BC39 every year is precisely the result she’d hoped for when her family first envisioned the event five years ago.

“When we first started the BC39, we wanted it to embody who Bryan was — not only as a race car driver, but as a human being. And I think we’ve accomplished that,” McLean said. “I think that it’s something he would want the sport to have. He would want the sport to have a premier event at the racing capital of the world.”