Indiana native Bryan Clauson ready for special Indy 500 return


If it has four wheels, Bryan Clauson has likely raced it in his career.

At one point or other, Clauson has competed in NASCAR, ARCA, IndyCar, Indy Lights, sprint cars and midgets and more.

Included in his career highlights are being a two-time USAC National Sprint Car champ, a two-time USCA National Midget champ, three-time USAC National Driver’s champ and two-time National Midget Driver of the Year.

But there’s something about racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that has always been No. 1 on the 25-year-old Noblesville, Ind., native’s list.

In 2011, while competing on the Indy Lights circuit, Clauson took the pole and finished fifth in the Firestone Freedom 100.

The following year, Clauson stepped up to the big time and fulfilled his dream of racing in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Driving for Sarah Fisher Racing, Clauson unfortunately didn’t exactly have the finish he hoped for, ultimately completing just 46 of the 200 laps due to handling issues. He started 31st and finished 30th.

But as Jim Nabors likes to sing about being back home again in Indiana, Clauson is likewise back in his home state and preparing to compete in his second Indy 500 start in the 99th edition on May 24th.

“It’s good to be back, it’s been a long three years since we’ve been here,” Clauson said in a recent teleconference.

This second go-round is particularly special for Clauson, as he’ll be representing one of the 500’s long-time sponsors, Jonathan Byrd Racing.

Byrd, who owned the well-known Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria restaurant in the Indianapolis area, passed away in 2009 at the age of 57 due to cardiac arrest.

“It’s exciting to come back with KVSH and Jonathan Byrd (and) obviously Jonathan Byrd is making their return to the Speedway,” Clauson said. “It’s a special time for everybody involved and we’re excited.”

Byrd began sponsoring teams in the 500 in 1985, including the 1996 race-winning car of Buddy Lazier and Panther Racing.

Byrd’s last year of sponsorship at Indy was in 2005, but a decision was made last year to return for this year’s race – marking the 30th anniversary of Byrd sponsoring a team at Indy – and to join forces with KVSH Racing.

The choice of Clauson was a no-brainer. Jonathan Byrd II, elder son of the late Jonathan Byrd, announced nearly a year ago that the company would return to sponsor a car in the 2015 Indy 500.

“Not only is Bryan going to be our Indy 500 driver next year (2015), it’s our intention that he be our Indy 500 driver for the next 15 years,” the younger Byrd said at the time. “He is a great fit for our brand, and we hope to be in the BC (Bryan Clauson) business for many years to come.”

Having passed his 500 refresher test, Clauson is going to have a busy month between the 500, practice, qualifying and several sprint car and midget races thrown in for good measure.

But Clauson likes the variety he’ll experience this month.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in my career running every night of the week basically in anything from USAC,” he said. “We’d run a quarter mile on Friday, a dirt mile on Saturday, and head to Anderson Sunday in a pavement car. So you kind of learn to adapt.

“You just kind of got to come in, hit the reset button, and try to think back to the things I did right in 2012. There were some things I did wrong. So you try and make note of those and try to remember not to do that again and you kind of almost start from scratch.”

Knowing he’s had an IndyCar ride for the month of May for a year has been both important and comforting for Clauson.

“They were pretty serious about this program and obviously they wanted to plan it out, you know, by announcing it a year in advance,” he said.

“It’s been a lot of fun to kind of go through the process with not only them, but the team as well, and build a program basically from the ground up that hopefully will be around for a little while.”

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SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.