Bryan Clauson, a top dirt track and open wheel auto racer, died Sunday from injuries he sustained during an accident at the Belleville Midget Nationals in rural Kansas.
Clauson was leading the race Saturday night when he crashed and his car rolled before being hit by another competitor. He was flown to a hospital in Lincoln, Neb. and died there with his family present Sunday evening. He was 27.
“Our Bryan fought to the end with the same desire that he demonstrated behind the wheel of all the various race cars he would park in victory lane,” his family said in a statement after his death was announced Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“However we are more proud of our Byran that took a moment to make a fan’s day, or demonstrated his uncommon kindness and appreciation toward his friends, family and fans.”
Clauson had 27 victories in 116 races this year and led the Indianapolis 500 for three laps in May. In his career he won four USAC national championships, two in sprint cars and two in midgets. He also raced the Indianapolis 500 three times since 2012 and finished 23rd this year. After finishing the Indy 500 this year, he drove to Kokomo Speedway and won a 30-lap sprint car race.
He was also considered a potential rising star in stock car racing and was the fastest qualifier for a NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Tony Stewart, a former USAC champion himself, said Clauson “had a bright future” in racing.
He is survived by his parents, Tim and Di, sister Taylor and fiancé Lauren Stewart.