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Bryan Clauson legacy serves as inspiration for new organ donation incentive

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While popular racer Bryan Clauson was tragically taken from us in 2016 in a racing accident, his spirit and legacy continues to grow.

A longtime resident of Indiana, Clauson is serving as the inspiration for a joint partnership between the Indiana Donor Network and Clauson-Marshall Racing to promote organ, tissue and eye donation, and transplantation through the Driven2SaveLives initiative.

Driven2SaveLives launched prior to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, a race that Clauson competed in. The organization spawned from a partnership between Indiana Donor Network, Stefan Wilson and KV Racing Technology to honor IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was killed in a racing incident in August 2015 at Pocono Raceway.

Justin Wilson was a registered organ donor and his death allowed five individuals to receive his organs to save their own lives.

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Now, with its new partnership with Clauson’s old racing team, Driven2SaveLives is moving into dirt track racing.

The announcement came Tuesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which this week is hosting the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

Clauson-Marshall Racing will have six drivers competing in the Chili Bowl and will carry branding on cars and fire suits by Driven2SaveLives. Those drivers are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Tyler Courtney, Shane Golobic, Jason Johnson and Donny Schatz. The sixth driver has yet to be named.

On August 7, Clauson, a four-time USAC champion, succumbed to injuries suffered in a crash the night before in a USAC race in Belleville, Kansas.

Clauson was a registered organ donor and, in death, provided organs to save the lives of five strangers who suffered from a variety of life-threatening conditions without organ exchange.

“While Bryan was known for his on-track persona, the decision he made to be an organ and tissue donor will forever be his legacy,” said Tim Clauson, Bryan’s father and co-owner of Clauson-Marshall Racing. “As a family, we are humbled to honor Bryan and his donation decision through Driven2SaveLives and the racing community we love.

“What donation did for our family – the light it provided us in our darkest hours – will stay with me for a lifetime. I will be forever grateful.”

As such, Driven2SaveLives representatives will be on hand at a number of dirt track races around the country.

Indiana Donor Network is one of nearly 60 organ procurement organizations in the U.S. and will activate Driven2SaveLives in dirt racing along with Donate Life America.

“The work we do within the donation and transplantation community is both a privilege and a responsibility – we get to make a difference,” said Kellie Hanner, president and chief executive officer at Indiana Donor Network. “Driven2SaveLives gives race fans a platform to talk about donation and transplantation. This means that everyone who helps to spread this campaign’s message not only gets to honor the donation decision but also gets to be a part of Bryan’s lasting legacy.”

Here are some facts about the importance of organ donation from Driven2SaveLives:

* More than 120,000 people nationwide are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants.

* One person is added to the transplant waiting list every 10 minutes in the U.S.

* Each day, 22 people on average in the U.S. die because a donated organ wasn’t made available in time.

* Approximately 90 percent of Americans support organ donation, yet only 50 percent are registered.

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Cooper solidifies PWC GT presence with Callaway Corvette

Callaway, Cooper, Gill. Photo: PWC
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Pirelli World Challenge could use a “face” of the series from a driving standpoint, and American Michael Cooper is a good candidate to fill that role for 2018.

Cooper, 27, has won PWC Touring Car, GTS and, most recently the SprintX GT titles within the series and has quickly blossomed into one of the series’ top GT stars.

It’s been a rapid rise for the Syosset, N.Y. native, entering into a world filled with series stars and champions such as Johnny O’Connell, Patrick Long, Alvaro Parente and a host of others.

But under O’Connell’s tutelage, Cooper admirably filled the rather gaping shoes vacated by Andy Pilgrim at Cadillac Racing, steering the Cadillac ATS-V.R to multiple race wins in the last two years – including a sweep of this year’s season finale weekend at Sonoma.

Cooper and Jordan Taylor were the model of consistency in SprintX this year, winning once at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and surviving contact at Circuit of The Americas to take that title.

With Cadillac withdrawing its ATS-V.R program at the end of the year though, Cooper was left a free agent for 2018. Fortunately with one door closed another opened, in the form of the GM-blessed but full Callaway Competition USA effort with its Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R that will come Stateside next year. Cooper and Daniel Keilwitz will be in the team’s two cars for the full season; the car was fully unveiled last week at the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

The Callaway is a proven commodity in Europe but couldn’t run in the U.S. unless the path was cleared by one of GM’s factory programs to end a direct, potential head-to-head competition.

Moving from the Cadillac to the Callaway Corvette should be a natural transition, Cooper said last week.

“It worked out incredibly well that GM decided to allow Calloway to run the car in the United States and it created an opportunity for me that wouldn’t have been there otherwise,” he told NBC Sports. “I talked to a lot of other GT teams and at the end of the day, I felt like this was the best direction for me to be competitive next year and to also continue furthering my career with General Motors.”

Indeed Cooper has graduated from the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R in GTS to the Cadillac and now to the Callaway Corvette. Cooper hailed the Cadillac team for what they did for his career growth.

“Working with Cadillac Racing has been instrumental in developing my abilities both on and off the track,” he said. “So I’m definitely a much more well-rounded driver now and have a lot of experience in the World Challenge GT field, so I kind of know what to expect going into that first race and going into that first corner in St. Pete.”

As noted, the car’s success in Europe means it’s a well-oiled machine by the time Reeves Callaway has worked with PWC to bring it Stateside next year. And as Cooper explained, discussions had been underway for a bit of time to ensure his presence in this car and team.

“I think the car is going to be extremely capable. It’s already won championships and races in Europe. I think, in bringing it over here, we’re going to hit the ground running straight away,” he said.

“Calloway had wanted me to come drive for them in July or August. We always kept in touch since then, and there was a lot of work trying to put together a program before they decided that they were going to do a fully fledged factory program. So once they made that decision, I think the pieces were kind of in place already, and the conversations had been had to be able to say ‘You’re going to be our guy.’”

December is late for IMSA programs to get finalized, but it’s relatively early for PWC, with the season not starting until mid-March in St. Petersburg. An extensive testing program should follow, as Callaway establishes its U.S. base and infrastructure.

“It’s definitely early for a Pirelli World Challenge program to be announced in December when we start racing in March. So that’s very good,” he said. “But, the team has a lot of work ahead of them in terms of getting infrastructure set up here in the United States, because a lot of their racing program has been in Europe. So, there will be a testing program, but they have to get the infrastructure in place first. But, we’ll be well prepared for St. Pete, I’m certain of it.

“Last year was the first year when I could sit back, kick my feet up, and know what I was doing next year. So, to be able to have everything done and be able to announce it this early on makes my life less stressful and now I can just focus on preparing myself and my team for next year.”