In a sad turn of events, race car driver Bryan Clauson passed away Sunday night due to injuries he sustained during Saturday’s Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas, his family announced Monday morning.
Clauson, 27, had just taken the lead on Saturday when he and his car scaled a guard rail in-between turns three and four causing him to flip before he was struck by driver Ryan Greth, according to USA Today.
While leading, Clauson climbs the guard rail between turns 3/4. Flips heavily. He is hit by Ryan Greth in turn 4. Red flag – lap 14.
— USAC Racing (@USACNation) August 7, 2016
“This is truly one of the darkest days in the 60-year history of the United States Auto Club,” USAC CEO Kevin Miller told reporters. “Not only have we lost one of our greatest USAC champions, we’ve lost a true ambassador for all of motor sports.”
This past may, Clauson drove in his third Indianapolis 500 and finished 23rd. While he also spent some time racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Clauson was best known for his dirt racing.
Over his career, Clauson won two USAC national midget car titles and won the famous Chili Bowl in 2014. Those were just a handful of his 170 feature wins over his career.
“Bryan’s passion for our sport was unparalleled,” Miller said. “He was a leader not only on the track, but in the pits with his fellow competitors.”
When he crashed on Saturday, Clauson was racing as a three-time winner and defending champion of the Belleville Nationals. On top of that, the event was one of 200 Clauson had planned to drive this year during his “Chasing 200” tour.
A night before the tragic crash, Clauson was involved in a separate incident that forced him to use a new car.
Took a tough hit last night, but the guys have me another hot rod ready for tonight's Belleville Midget Nationals! pic.twitter.com/3EIdNe9otY
— Bryan Clauson (@BryanClauson) August 6, 2016
“There’s a tremendous hole in the hearts of our community today as we grieve his loss along with his family and friends,” Miller said.
Clauson was scheduled to marry his fiancée Lauren Stewart in February. As for his friends, driver Tony Stewart has already expressed his grief about the death of Clauson.
“It’s a tragedy,” Stewart said. “That kid drove for us for a long time and did a great job and never went anywhere, I don’t care what happened, no matter how bad his day was, he always found a way to smile with it. Him and Lauren being engaged, kid had such a bright future, and it’s just … it was hard to start the day today in the car.”
“It sucks when it’s anybody in racing. It’s hard when you lose them, but it’s even worse when they’re somebody as close to you as Bryan was. I feel for Lauren today and Bryan’s parents and his sister, and I hope to be able to see them soon, but just thinking about them more than anything right now.”
Clauson’s family released a statement to announce his death Monday.
” (Clauson) fought to the end with the same desire that he demonstrated behind the wheel of all the various cars he would park in victory lane.”
“However, we were more proud of our Bryan that took a moment to make a young fan’s day or demonstrated his uncommon kindness and appreciation toward his friends, family and fans.”
The young driver passed away at a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska over the weekend. His family has asked for donations in his honor to be made to the USAC Benevolent Foundation (usacbf.org).