USAC’s 2019 Hall of Fame class is sure to evoke emotions when formally inducted Wednesday, September 4 during the second annual Driven2SaveLives BC39 powered by NOS Energy Drink. Held at The Dirt Track inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the race, which currently has more than 50 star-studded entries, honors the memory of USAC star and now Hall of Fame inductee, Bryan Clauson.
Clauson, a Noblesville, Ind. racer, won 112 USAC races as a driver and is one of only six drivers to meet the 100-win threshold during his 2004-2016 USAC career. He ranks seventh on both the USAC National Sprint Car and USAC National Midget wins list with 41 and 38 victories, respectively in each category. Clauson earned USAC’s National Driver Championship in three successive years, 2010-2012 together with USAC National Midget championships in 2010 and 2011. He won the USAC National Sprint Car title in 2012-13.
Clauson was more than a USAC standout: He raced NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, INDYCAR’s Indy Lights and in the NTT IndyCar Series; he was a development driver for Chip Ganassi Racing. It was during his ambitious 2016 season, when Clauson attempted to compete in 200 contests – including the Indianapolis 500, World of Outlaws sprint cars, wingless sprint cars and midget cars – that he met his ultimate fate, perishing after a midget crash at Belleville, Kansas. The Driven2SaveLives BC39 is conducted in his honor.
Joining Clauson in USAC’s Hall of Fame are Johnny Capels, Dick Jordan and Dave Steele, this quartet receiving the most votes in the eighth class of inductees. Over the past seven years, 80 outstanding individuals have joined USAC’s Hall of Fame.
Capels, born in New Mexico, is a five-time National Championship-winning chief mechanic who earned back-to-back USAC National Championships with driver Joe Leonard in 1971-72. He also took USAC Champ Dirt Car titles with Al Unser in 1973, Mario Andretti in 1974 and as chief mechanic/car owner for Pancho Carter in 1978. Johnny Capels was a USAC Sprint Car driver, who earned victory in 1968. He served USAC as senior vice president and director of competition in 1992, was president and COO of USAC from 1997 through 2001 and served as chairman of the USAC Board of Directors between 2002 and 2010.
Dick Jordan, a familiar face to media members both in USAC and every other mode of motorsport, passed away last month. He was USAC’s public and media relations representative for more than 50 years, from 1968 until his recent demise. Jordan devoted his complete working life to publicizing USAC’s drivers and its events, most likely witnessing more USAC events than any other human being. In addition to his unfailing work with the media, Jordan preserved the club’s history with his always readable and useful race reports, his statistics and record-keeping – and always with a great sense of humor.
The “Man of Steele,” Dave Steele was born in Tampa, Fla. and had a celebrated career in many forms of USAC racing, primarily on asphalt. A two-time USAC Silver Crown titleholder in 2004 and 2005, Dave Steele is one of the club’s most accomplished racers of the 1990s and 2000s. He earned 60 USAC National victories, all of which came on pavement. He owned 16 Silver Crown, 26 National Sprint Car and 18 National Midget wins and was a two-time Little 500 winner at Anderson Speedway in Indiana, site of his final USAC win in 2009. Steele, racing in the 2017 Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series at Florida’s Desoto Speedway, crashed on the first lap of competition and passed away from his injuries.
80 members of USAC’s Hall of Fame: J.C. Agajanian, Mario Andretti, Earl Baltes, Henry Banks, Rollie Beale, Gary Bettenhausen, Tony Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, George Bignotti, Tom Binford, Don Branson, Clint Brawner, Steve Butler, Jimmy Bryan, Duane Carter, Pancho Carter, Jimmy Caruthers, Russ Clendenen, Donald Davidson, Jimmy Davies, Willie Davis, Frankie Delroy, Mike Devin, Larry Dickson, Bob East, Tony Elliott, A.J. Foyt, Paul Goldsmith, Chuck Gurney, Gene Hartley, Butch Hartman, Jack Hewitt, Bob Higman, Tommy Hinnershitz, Gus Hoffman, Lindsey Hopkins, Tony Hulman, Jim Hurtubise, Parnelli Jones, Don Kenyon, Mel Kenyon, Dick King, Sheldon Kinser, Jud Larson, Jason Leffler, Steve Lewis, Howard Linne, Bill Lipkey, Fred Lorenzen, Roger McCluskey, Rick Mears, Norm Nelson, Pat O’Connor, Kevin Olson, Roger Penske, Larry Rice, Lloyd Ruby, Johnny Rutherford, Troy Ruttman, Eddie Sachs, Ken Schrader, Bob & Gene Shannon, Jimmy Sills, Don Smith, Robbie Stanley, Steve Stapp, Tony Stewart, Bob Stroud, Bob Tattersall, Shorty Templeman, Johnny Thomson, Sleepy Tripp, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Rich Vogler, Rodger Ward, A.J. Watson, Bob Wente, Don White & Bob Wilke.