Bryan Clauson, Walter Payton were epitome of why being an organ donor is so important

(Getty Images)

Even in death, Bryan Clauson will live on.

The 27-year-old race car driver who was as talented as he was friendly suffered a tragedy no one – nor his family or friends – should ever have to go through.

Clauson was doing what he loved, racing last Saturday in a Midget dirt race in Kansas – a race that would ultimately be his last. Less than 24 hours after a horrific wreck, after doctors did everything they could to save him, his family bid farewell and let Clauson go to Heaven.

But as we learned Wednesday, in one of the last things of his time on earth, Clauson performed an act so selfless that far too many of us rarely think of, let alone ever do in our own lives.

Being a registered organ donor, Clauson added to an already stellar legacy as a race car driver and human being.

MORE: Bryan Clauson spirit lives on: donates organs to five transplant recipients

With God calling him home, Clauson had one last thing to do before he left us – if he couldn’t go on, he wanted to make sure that he could help others go on living themselves.

And that’s exactly what the California native did: in death, he gave the gift of prolonged life to five anonymous individuals.

Clauson’s fiancee, Lauren Stewart, and his family took to his Facebook page on Wednesday to once again thank fans, friends, competitors and everyone else for their prayers, thoughts and support in a very trying time.

Then came the big surprise, when it was revealed that Clauson not only was a registered organ donor and an advocate for organ donation, but that he had shown his commitment first-hand by donating his own organs to individuals waiting for what potentially could be a life-saving transplant for some, if not all of them.

We don’t know which of Clauson’s organs were harvested or donated – and it shouldn’t matter.

What should matter is after making the ultimate sacrifice to his sport, he made an equally ultimate sacrifice to help give prolonged life to people he had never met who otherwise may have lived shortened lives without Clauson’s gift.

Even if they aren’t race fans or maybe never even heard of Clauson – or tragically what happened to him – the quintet of individuals that received his organs will now carry a part of him with them for the rest of their lives.

And hopefully they’ll remember to thank him every day for the rest of what will hopefully be long, productive and healthy lives.

I typically don’t like to inject myself into stories like this, but I’d like to share a tale that will hopefully help you understand just how significant Clauson’s donations were.

I’m a registered organ donor; have been for nearly 20 years, dating back to 1999 – which you’ll understand why that year is so important in a few short moments.

I have friends and family members that have criticized me for the desire to donate my organs when I die. I’ve tried to explain to them countless times that if I can help someone live or extend his or her own life, I want to do so.

After all, if I can’t use those organs anymore, they’re not going to do me any good if I’m buried or cremated. Like old food, they’re just going to go to waste.

But if they’re still usable, and can help someone else – especially someone who might otherwise die – tell the doctor to get the scalpel sharpened and ready.

I had a very good friend who waited desperately for an organ transplant; in his case, it was a liver. He was on the waiting list for at least a couple of years, but a match was never found.

He was wealthy, beloved and one of the greatest athletes the city of Chicago ever knew. His name was Walter Payton.

Chicago Bears great Walter Payton in one of his final public appearances, throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field before a Chicago Cubs game. He would be dead just over six months later after a couragious battle with liver disease and bile duct cancer.
Chicago Bears great Walter Payton in one of his final public appearances, throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field before a Chicago Cubs game in April 1999. He would die just over six months later after a brave battle with liver disease and bile duct cancer. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Allsport)

Unfortunately, even with all his wealth, adoration and notoriety, Payton could not get the thing he needed the most to continue living: a new liver.

He waited and waited and waited. Sadly, a viable match was never located.

Payton eventually got to the point where even if a transplantable liver had been found, it would have been too late as bile duct cancer eventually overtook and ravaged his once strong body until he passed away as a mere shadow of himself on Nov. 1, 1999.

I remember when Payton first announced his illness in February 1999. He looked so gaunt, so weak, so … so … sick. I can’t help but think how ironic it would have been if there had been just one Chicago Bears fan out there who would have been a perfect match, likely would have relished the opportunity to help save one of the team’s greatest players, but like far too many in the world was either too scared or too uninformed to be willing to donate still viable organs that could have kept someone like Payton alive.

In the final months of his life, Payton worked tirelessly – as much as his weakened body would allow him to – on behalf of organ transplantation and to raise awareness of why it’s such an important initiative. Because we had known each other for nearly 20 years before he passed away, it didn’t take long for Payton to convince me to become a registered organ donor – and I’ll remain one until I take my final breath.

Bryan Clauson likely never met Payton (Clauson was only 10 years old when Payton died at 45), but directly or indirectly, both understood just how important it is to be an organ donor. If things had been different Saturday in Kansas and Clauson had either survived or not even been involved in that wreck in the first place, it still would not have diminished just how important organ donation is. Or, what if Clauson had survived, but needed an organ transplant himself? Do you see how vital such actions are? They work both ways.

The racing community and his countless fans all mourn Clauson’s death and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

But in death and in giving back the most precious parting gift he could to this world, Clauson just acquired five new fans – perhaps the most important fans he’s ever made – that will cheer him on for the rest of their own lives.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Motocross 2023: Results and points after season opener at Fox Raceway


It was not the first time it has been done, but a rider winning in his Motocross debut is rare as the results show Jett Lawrence swept the motos at Fox Raceway in Pala, California and took the early points lead.

Dylan Ferrandis may not be quite 100 percent yet, but he was good enough to finish on the podium at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence became the 16th rider to win in his Motocross debut and was the 10th rider to do so in the season opener, At 19, he wasn’t the youngest to perform the feat; Rick Johnson was 17 in 1982 when he won the lidlifter at Hangtown, the site of next week’s race, but Lawrence’s inaugural win bodes well. The last time a rider performed this feat, Dylan Ferrandis went on to win the 2021 Motocross championship as a rookie in 2021.

Ferrandis did not sweep the motos that season while Lawrence’s performance on Saturday was perfect. He paced both practice sessions, earned the holeshot in each race and finished first in both motos after leading every lap to score maximum points. Lawrence started the weekend needing 85 points to climb into 20th in the combined SuperMotocross standings for the 450 class. Earning 50 with his perfect Motocross results at Fox Raceway, he is nearly 60 percent of the way to his goal.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Results; Click here for 250 Results

Chase Sexton was second across the board. He qualified in the second position and finished 2-2 in his motos. In the first race, he was a relatively distant runner-up behind Lawrence, crossing the finish line a little more than 10 seconds ahead. He got a great start in Moto 2 and pushed Lawrence for the entire race, never getting further back than three seconds. He tried to pressure Lawrence into making a mistake, but both riders hardly put a wheel wrong and they finished within a second of one another.

Returning from a concussion suffered in the Houston Supercross race earlier this season and exacerbated at Daytona, Ferrandis finished third in both motos to take third overall. His most important task at hand this week was to avoid trouble and start the Motocross season healthy at Fox Raceway so he can begin to accumulate strong results and move up in SuperMotocross points.

Ferrandis entered this round 25th in the standings and left Pala in 19th. With that position, he has an automatic invitation to the feature starting grid in the SuperMotocross World Championship as long as he does not fall back.

Click here for 450 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb both ended the race with 34 points, but Plessinger had the tiebreaker with a better finish in the second race. Notably, both riders sustained injury sometime during the season, but Plessinger had an advantage by coming back a week sooner in Salt Lak City for the Supercross finale. He finished second in that race.

Webb was cleared late in the week by doctors after being on concussion protocol from a vicious strike to his helmet in a Nashville Supercross heat race late in the season. He made a beeline to the track to run the Motocross opener. After missing last year’s outdoor season, he wanted to make certain that did not happen again. He still has a solid opportunity to catch Sexton for the No. 1 overall seed in the SuperMotocross standings., but he will need to make up 78 points.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

For the first time in history, Pro Motocross results from Fox Raceway show brothers as winners on the same day.

Battling a rib injury suffered practicing earlier in the week, Hunter Lawrence got a poor start to Moto 1 and had to overcome his 10th-place standing at the end of Lap 1. He methodically worked his way toward the front but might have settled for a position off the podium if not for heavy traffic in the closing laps. Lawrence was able to get through the field quicker than Justin Cooper and Jo Shimoda to finish third.

Hunter Lawrence overcame sore ribs to score the overall 250 win at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence’s second moto was much stronger. He earned the holeshot and led all 15 laps of the race to win by a more than eight seconds.

Haiden Deegan didn’t feel any pressure heading into this round. No one expected much in his third Motocross National and he would have been happy with anything in the top five. At least that’s what he said in the post-race news conference. Deegan said similar things after finishing fourth in his first Supercross race this season. In a stacked field of 40 riders at Fox Raceway, “Danger Boy” finished sixth in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2 for the second-place finish overall.

Click here for 250 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan finished second overall. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire had an eventful weekend. He dominated Moto 1 and won by a healthy margin, making a statement about how he will race now that Jett Lawrence is no longer in the field. He was a victim of mayhem in Turn 2 of Moto 2, which forced him to the ground. Another crash on an uphill portion of the track later that same lap put him in 39th. Hampshire salvaged as many points as he could and finished 11th in the second race to stand on the final box of the podium.

Tom Vialle came within a lap of scoring his first career podium. He had the position based on a tiebreaker over Justin Cooper and Maximus Vohland until Hampshire passed two riders on the final lap and earned one point more than that threesome. Instead, Vialle settled for his first podium in an individual moto with a 7-3 in the two races. More accustomed to this style of racing, Vialle will be a factor in the coming rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Cooper finished with a 5-4 in the two motos to sweep the top five and take fourth-place overall. Cooper started five rounds in the 450 class in Supercross this season and none on a 250, so he is starting with zero points in the SuperMotocross seeding, but with runs like this it won’t take long to make up the 89 he needs to climb to 20th.

One of the best performances of the weekend was put in by Vohland. He finished second in Moto 1 and had to withstand pressure from Lawrence in the closing lap. A poor start of 16th in the second race forced him to play catchup and he could only climb to ninth at the checkers.

2023 Supercross Results

Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Sexton unseats Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s