The Next Chapter.

Normally when I write a blog post, I sit down and write it all at once. I don’t think about it. I don’t question whether or not to write it. And I definitely do not think about how to word it. (For those of you who know me, you know I have no filter… not even a little, tiny one.) For this post, I’ve been struggling. Not with what I want to say, I feel strongly about that, but with how to say it.

A couple weeks ago I woke up and it was like a light switch had been flipped overnight. I’m not saying I was suddenly done grieving or I figured out how to fix every broken and messy piece in my life. That would be way too simple and I would be writing a best-selling book instead of a moderately viewed blog. But, back to the point. I woke up…. ready for it? Happy. I woke up happy. Fourteen months, three weeks, and two days after the absolute worst moment in my life. Fourteen months, three weeks, and two days after I thought I would never truly smile again, let alone feel happiness ever again. Well, I did it. It happened. I woke up and realized I was ready for the next chapter.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I started that next chapter of my life before this moment. Or, at least, I attempted to start it. I went back to school in August. Back in 2104, I graduated from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with a marketing degree. After Bryan’s accident, I wanted to do something completely different. After some time (9 or 10 months) passed, I realized I wanted to get away from the racing world (at least for a bit) and I was yearning for “normal.” The kind of normal where you can be on a plane next to a stranger and they ask what you do and you don’t have to show pictures and/or videos or go into an in depth explanation of what a sprint car is. I was searching for stability and a solid basis for this next chapter and “normal” is where I thought I could find this. Nursing. That’s nice and normal. Everyone knows what a nurse is. For that reason, among several others, I decided to go back to school for nursing. I am back at Indiana University (IUPUI) for the second time. I am almost finished with my first semester of prerequisites. Going back to school has turned out to be a great decision. I am back to being on a schedule, I feel like I am well on my way to do something meaningful in life, and I have a reason to get my butt out of bed in the mornings!

Not only did I go back to school, but I have made a lot of “adult” decisions and changes in my life lately. For starters, I bought a car (thanks for the help, mom and dad!) – a new-to-me Chevy Cruze. That was my first official big girl purchase. (Unless you count those very official, very expensive student loan payments that have been coming every month since graduation.) I just moved into an apartment. Again, another major first for me. I have never had a place of my own, so I am excited for this, but it is also VERY scary. Change is hard, I don’t care what the situation is. I have never really been a fan of change. This is coming from the girl who cried when her favorite baseball player got traded (after signing a multi-year contract… so much for that). That happened when I was in grade school. I have suffered multiple favorite-players-traded scenarios since then, but they never really get easier. My point is – change is not fun and I don’t like it. But, I had no other choice than to keep on keepin’ on in my situation.

That’s another thing – Everyone keeps telling me how tough I’ve been throughout this journey. (That’s what I refer to the awful reality of losing Bryan as – the journey. And all of YOU are on it with me. It’s why I continue to share my life with you.) I really had no choice other than to be tough. I realized that right away, while I was sitting in the hospital room, actually. As terrible is it seemed then, and sometimes still does now, life will go on. It simply will. My heart didn’t stop beating when Bryan’s did. My life, although it really felt like it, didn’t end when his did. Bryan’s life got cut short, but I’m not going to stop living mine because of that. I remember telling someone early on something like, “If you want to truly honor Bryan, live your life to the fullest. It is what he did and what he would want you to do.” So, that’s what I’m going to do.

I will never, ever, ever forget Bryan or stop loving him. I wake up every day and think about him and he crosses my mind every night before I go to sleep, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never love again. Bryan will always have a special, important place in my heart, but I am really starting to see that I have room for more in there.

I am moving forward with my life. I am going to live and love fully and deeply. Bryan taught me how to do those things. He taught me to enjoy the little things in life and I can confidently say he made me a better version of myself. I take time to take it all in now. I didn’t do that before. I don’t stress over the things I can’t control. I don’t freak out when getting the hair ball out of the shower drain… “It’s just hair, L.” That’s one of the last things I remember Bryan telling me. Weird memory to hold on to, huh? But for me, it’s so much more than that. Quick background: hair in the shower grosses me out. Like really, really freaks me out to the point of gagging. Well, I shed almost as much as Chevy and Stewart, so I leave a nice, little (big) hairball behind in the shower drain. Bryan saw me getting a handful of kleenex one day and asked what I was doing. I told him I was getting the hairball out of the drain. He half laughed, walked over to the shower, bent down, and picked up that disgusting, still wet, hairball with his bare hands. He walked towards the trashcan, threw it away, and so casually said, “It’s just hair, L.” That moment sums up Bryan perfectly. Always cool, calm, and collected. I try to be a little less anxious, stressed, and neurotic, and a little more like Bryan every day. So, I say that to myself multiple times a day. Stuck in traffic? Spilled coffee on my white shirt? Forgot to drop something off at the post office? It’s just hair – no big deal, I can handle it.

Bryan will always be a part of my, and my family’s, life, but we are navigating this new chapter together. Changing a picture on Facebook doesn’t mean we are forgetting about or replacing Bryan. It just simply means we are doing our best to continue moving forward. I have the most supportive, loving parents, so I have to brag on them for a second. Even though I have to remind them I’m not made of glass sometimes and that I really can handle things on my own, I really, really appreciate everything they have done and continue to do for me. So, thank you, mom and dad. (Remember these kind words next time I get a little sassy!)

The point of all of this is: I am finding happiness again. I am moving forward. And it feels good. I’m not saying I’m “over” Bryan or “done” grieving. I don’t think either of those things will ever happen, nor does anyone expect that. What I am saying is, I am finding myself again. I feel more like “Lauren” in this moment than I have since this journey started fifteen months ago.

So, I am going to continue to move forward. Not as Bryan’s fiancé. Not as Chevy’s mom. Just me. Lauren. Obviously, a part of me will always be Bryan’s fiancé and I am still very much Chevy’s mom, but those things do not define me.

So, cheers to new adventures and new beginnings. Although it sort of seems like an end, this journey is far from over. I have a lot of healing, living, and loving left to do. We’re not done yet. I am simply turning the page to the next chapter.


The Hard Part

There are so many things I’m learning on this journey. Things I never wanted to have to learn. Today’s lesson: Grief hurts. It physically hurts. I woke up this morning and it felt like my heart had been crushed into a million little pieces… again. I miss Bryan so much that my heart is literally aching for him.

I’ve put on a brave face throughout this journey for the most part, but the last eight or so hours… man, it hurts. I’ve cried longer and harder in the last eight hours than I have the last eight months. Why? I don’t know. There is no answer to all of it, so I don’t even bother asking.

At the end of the day yesterday, I was sitting at the cemetery visiting Bryan with his family. I had been surrounded by close friends and family all day, but at the end of the day the only person I wanted to be with was Bryan. I wanted to hug B. I wanted to crawl into bed and snuggle up on his shoulder. The fact that a hug from his mom was as close as I was going to get to that… heartbreaking.

I sent a text to three of my best friends at the same time last night. When I’m at a loss for words and I can’t really explain how I’m feeling, my go to is this: “Damnit. I miss Bryan.”

Three friends. Three responses back.

“Me too, kid.”

“I do too.”

“I’d bring him back in a second if I could.”

In a weird, selfish, completely twisted way… it makes it hurt a little less to know that I’m not the only one missing him.

It’s now 7:21am and I’m on a plane headed to Pennsylvania. I want to be heading to watch Bryan race. I miss our life. I miss all of it. I’m trying to find peace and comfort and I really am looking forward to see all the PA fans I haven’t had the chance to see yet. For whatever reason, though, this trip without Bryan hurts a little bit more than the rest of them.

Today I’m grieving what should have been. What was supposed to be. Our plan didn’t happen. And honestly, it sucks. That’s the most eloquent way I can put it right now.

I’ve shared so much with all of you on this journey… I can’t share only the good without also giving you the not so good. So, here it is. My heart hurts. I feel lost. I don’t even know where to begin in putting the pieces of my life puzzle back together. I’m not sure if the racetrack is where I want to be or where I’ll find comfort, but here I am… following my heart to PA. All million pieces of it.

December 30th.

It’s been lingering in the back of my mind all day. I’m trying not to dwell on it. I chose not to go to the races tonight. And I’m glad I’m not there.

Tonight would have been Race 200. Or whatever number we ended up at. But knowing my competitiveness and Bryan’s desire to race… It would have been 200. Bay Park in New Zealand. Should have been Race 200. But it’s not. As we all know, the Chasing 200 Tour ended at Race 117.

I didn’t even question whether or not I wanted to go to the track tonight. I knew I didn’t. And I’m not really sure why. I think it’s because tonight wasn’t anything special. The moment that it was supposed to be – that’s not happening. And me not being there… Well, I think this is a step in the process. I’m dealing with it all. I didn’t feel the need to be there to celebrate what was supposed to be. And I think that’s ok.

I spent the day with our friend, Fleur, and her kiddos, Coop and Tayla. I think Bryan would be proud of me for not going to the races tonight. I’ve said it before, but he taught me two things: to live and to love. By choosing to spend time with my friends instead of focus on “what should have been”, I’m doing both of those. Today is the first time that I have really felt that things will be ok (and by “ok” I mean “as ok as they can be without Bryan”). Earlier today, I was laying out on the deck watching the kiddos splashing in the pool… and I just had this overwhelming sense of calmness and peace.



I am looking forward to 2017 – not because 2016 was terrible. It was indeed the worst year of my life, but I also had the best moments of my life this year, too. Bryan proposed (finally). I became an Aunt (officially) for the first time. We promoted our first race – and it was a success. I was next to Bryan as he was achieving his dreams, our dreams. We were doing it. We were a team. I feel like we were really just getting started this year. So many plans. So many dreams. So many late night conversations about our future. Yes, so much of that was taken away in 2016, but here I am. I have to continue what we started. From promoting races, to our Racers For Autism charity event, to decorating our house (sounds easier than it is). Everything that Bryan and I had planned, everything that we worked on together – I want to continue to do it. I want to make it bigger and better in honor of Bryan. I want Bryan to say, “that’s my girl”. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Sure, 2017 will have challenges. Tough moments. But nothing can be any tougher than what I have experienced and what I am overcoming. I am feeling hopeful about the new year. I thought I would be sad. I thought I would feel like I was leaving Bryan behind… But I don’t. I feel like I’m doing exactly what he wants me to do.

So, even though it sounds like it was a small thing… Staying home from the races tonight is exactly what I needed to do to be able to move forward, even if it was just the teeniest step.

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.

First holiday. Here it is. Maybe it’s because we didn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving, or maybe it’s because the family time hasn’t started, but today feels like just another day. Bryan was always racing on Thanksgiving, so I don’t have the “traditional” memories that other people would have. I have plenty of memories though. I’ll miss his tweets today. He always tweeted what he was thankful for – and always made a little picture collage to go with it. Last year he said he was thankful for me, Chevy, and Stew. And he was thankful to get to do what he loves day in and day out.

Well guess what, B? It’s my turn. And I’m so thankful for you. I’m thankful for the time we had together. I’m thankful for everything you taught me. I’m thankful for the love we shared. Our cute little pups. I’m thankful for all of it. You made me, and continue to make me, a better person. You had this way of making everything better. We love you and we miss you, but I promise we won’t be sad today. Today is a day to count our blessings, and as crazy as it sounds, we have so much to be thankful for.

I’m so thankful that Bryan was an organ donor. He saved lives, but he gave us extra time with him, and for that I will always be thankful. (You can sign up to be an organ donor here!)

I’m surrounded by the BEST people. Mom and Dad: I’m thankful for everything you do for me, even if I don’t show it at the time. From merchandise orders to taking care of my dogs to vacuuming my house, they’ve done it all. Tim, Di, and Taylor: Thank you for letting us be part of your family. I’m thankful for your love. I’m so thankful that you continue to look at Bryan as “Bryan and Lauren.” Friends: I have the best friends. Old and new. I’m so thankful that Bryan put you all in my life. We’ve had late nights working on merchandise orders at my house. We’ve had cross-country adventures. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. You’ve listened to me cry. I’m thankful for your love and friendship. Thank you for being my by side through all of this.

Noblesville. I’m thankful for this community. It feels like home a little more each and every day.

Last, but definitely not least, I’m thankful for the racing community. Every single person – race fan to driver to promoter and everyone in between. I am so thankful for you. Thank you for remembering and honoring Bryan. Thank you for the completely overwhelming amount of love and support. The random “hey, just checking on you” texts… thankful for those, too.

So, I guess the sign on my living room wall is true. There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.

BC Forever

“Goodnight, doll.”


“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I never would have thought August 5th (probably early morning on August 6th) would have been the last time we exchanged those words.

My whole world changed 10 weeks (plus a couple of days) ago. We said “I love you” for the last time. My very last words to B: “I’m going to video driver intros, then head to the stands. Love you.”

It hurts my heart to think about that moment. If I could go back in time, I would hit pause and never hit play again. It’s been 71 days without you. We had a 12 day rule. Even in the first year and a half of our relationship; when we were long distance. I was in school in Florida, you were in Indy. Twelve days was the limit, then we would fly to wherever the other one was.

I miss you. We all do.

It’s 1:14am. There’s a million other things I should be doing right now… sleeping is probably number one.

I felt I needed to write this. I need to let everyone know how much I appreciate their love and support. There hasn’t been a day go by where I haven’t been reminded of everyone’s love for my Bryan. A Facebook post, a tweet, a “#ParkedIt”, or a friendly text. I appreciate all of them. This is a journey… I’m learning that.

Some days are good. Some days are not so good. I refer to the hard times as “bad moments”, not “bad days.” Some days are easier than others. Some days (today) I want to pull the blankets over my head and stay in bed all day.

Grieving is hard. I can’t explain it. I’m sure we are all experiencing it differently. But for me, it’s exhausting. Really, really exhausting. I’ve been through a lifetime of emotions in the last ten weeks. I feel good for a couple of hours, then reality hits. Some moments I’m not sure how I’ll make it to the next minute, let alone the next day, or week.

Simple tasks are the hardest. I’m trying to do “normal” without you. Laundry, cleaning, feeding the dogs. All of those simple things that I never gave much thought to before… they take a lot of effort and a lot of energy.

I’m doing the best I can. I fully believe I have the best support group around me. My family – mom, dad, Austin, Tim, Di, and Tay. My friends – close and far away. You all get me through the day. So, thank you. Thank you for the love. Thank you for the simple “hey, thinking of you” text when I need it most. Thank you for going and visiting B with me. All of it, thank you.

I owe one more giant thank you – THANK YOU to Bryan’s fans… to every single person who has reached out and given us support. Whether it be buying a t-shirt, sharing a story, or simply giving me a hug at the racetrack… I appreciate. I am working as fast as I can on online orders, I promise. Bryan would never let any of his fans down, so I’m not going to do that either. Some days go better than others. Some days are extremely hard and the last thing I want to do is look at B’s car on the t-shirts/decals over and over again… so, thank you for bearing with me.

This is something that I thought I would never have to go through. I wish I could bring Bryan back to us. All of us. I don’t even need badass racecar driver Bryan… I miss my guy. My teammate. My best friend. Chevy and Stew miss their dad. (I’m doing the best I can, but a being a single mom is hard!) I miss the guy who would take the trash out for me and squeegee the shower door in the mornings. I loved badass racecar driver Bryan, but really, that was just a bonus.

I love my normal, simple guy. My fiancée. The man I was going to marry and grow old with and live the rest of my life with. The guy I went to Pacers games with. And the guy who snuggled so close (but not too close – his request) every night. I miss “mousse time” in the mornings. And play time with the pups. Mostly, I miss us. Our little family.

Thank you for the lifetime of memories, B. You gave me more adventures and memories in five and a half years than most people ever get. From New Zealand to Australia, to Florida to California… thank you for all of that and everything in between. You taught me how to live and how to love… and those are two things I will never forget. And I will never, never take them for granted.

We’re going to get through this… We’re going to continue to grow Bryan’s legacy. It sounds so cliché, and I’ve been avoiding saying it, but it’s what Bryan would want. It is what he wants.

He’s not here physically, but he’s here in everything I do. I can feel that every single day.

We miss you and love you, B. Forever plus a day.

– L

What Racing Means to Me

Racing is so much more than just cars going around in a circle. And I was reminded of just that tonight at Eldora. It’s hard for me to put into words what racing, and the racing community, is really all about. For the person who’s never experienced it before, it’s difficult to explain why we love it as much as we do. Drivers, fans, owners, sponsors – We’re all here because we love it. We have a passion for it.

The buzz in the air when the gates open and the crowd starts to arrive. The excitement in the stands as Johnny Gibson yells “Quiiiiiiicktime.” The anticipation and build up to the main event topped off by the four-wide parade lap. I love all of those things, but what I truly love the most about racing is that it’s so much more than all of that.

Shared passion for this sport unites all of us in a way that can’t be easily described. Regardless of who you’re cheering for in the stands, we’re connected. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many awesome people over the years. Some of the people I look forward to seeing the most, I don’t even know their names. I know them as “the couple who sits in front of us at the Knoxville Nationals” or “the team who pits across the aisle from us at Chili Bowl.” I don’t know most fans’ names. Or where they went to school. Or what their favorite food is. But I know them. I know what races I’ll see them at, where they sit at big events, and who their favorite driver is.

I was reminded of all of this tonight because I saw a special fan – Ina Morell. Ina’s husband, Jeff, recently lost his battle with cancer, but she was at the races tonight because she knew he would want her to be. Jeff and Ina might be the biggest sprint car fans I have ever met. When I first met them, they were diehard Brady Bacon fans, but I’m happy to say I slowly opened their minds to being Bryan fans too. I know if Bryan and Brady were racing for the lead, Ina would cheer for Brady to win and that’s ok. The point of this story is this: I saw Ina tonight for the first time since she lost her husband. I don’t know where Ina lives. I don’t know how many kids she has or when her birthday is, but I do know she’s a race fan. She loves the same sport I do, and that connects us. I gave her a big, long hug tonight and told her I was very happy to see her here. I shared a moment with her that had more emotion and genuine feeling in it than most people have with their family members.

Winning is fun. Running to victory lane to congratulate Bryan is fun. Cheering for your favorite driver is fun. Giving high fives to random people in Bryan Clauson shirts; I like that too. But what I like most about our sport is the fact that strangers become friends and fans become family. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think there’s anything else quite like the racing community and I’m happy to be a part of it.

Chasing 200: Race 7 – 11

Rewind button. I’m starting to see a trend here – that’s how all of these start! Let me think back to where I left off… Coming home from Chili Bowl! We got home from Tulsa on Sunday, enjoyed our new house for a few days, and then headed to Arizona.

The dogs flew with us and I’m proud to report that Stewart Frank did great!! (Chevy did too, of course.) Stewart avoided flying since his big meltdown a year ago, so I was a little worried taking him this time. We got a sedative from the vet and he wore his new thunder shirt, which really seemed to keep him calm! He’s an expert traveler now… or something like that.

So we got to Arizona on Thursday night. Mike Martin picked us up at the airport and he might be the only other person in the world who lives on “Lauren time” – aka he’s always late. Maybe that’s why I like him! We got pizza on the way back to the hotel. I was surprised to see flowers and wine in the room when I walked in – Bryan remembered our anniversary for once! (It was the wrong kind of wine, but I let it slide since the hotel picked it up for him.) So we celebrated five years in a very romantic way – only a racecar driver could pull it off – we ate pizza from the box at the table in our hotel room.

We were in Phoenix for 10 days, so we had a few off days to hang out with friends and sponsors while we were there. My favorite part of the trip was getting to meet little Miss Teagan Martin! Bryan’s been driving for Mike for a few years now, so we’ve gotten to know him and his wife, Kendra, pretty well. They always take care of us when we’re in town – giving us a car to drive, place to stay, and showing us the best pizza places around! We stayed in a hotel this trip since our room at the Martin’s has been converted into a nursery. I’ll forgive Teagan for taking over our room because she is really cute! I was scared of babies a year ago, but I’m like a pro (a pro that doesn’t change poopy diapers) now thanks to all of my fertile friends!


Snuggles from Miss Teagan

Now to the racing!

Race 7 – Canyon Speedway – Peoria, AZ – BC won, so that was fun. We took a Victory Lane selfie (it’s tradition now) and we almost had to do a retake in the pits because my forehead was a bit too oily for my liking! Luckily, no one else seemed to notice. At least the strangers who congratulate Bryan on social media were kind enough to keep it to themselves if they did!

Race 8 – Canyon Speedway – Peoria, AZ – As Chevy would say, Bryan “Barked it again!”. Fun Fact: Two wins in a row. Two different cars. Bryan’s No. 16B didn’t run right in hot laps, so he ran the heat race in Mike’s No. 16. They got the 16B fixed for the feature, so Mike raced in that one and Bryan raced Mike’s car. (Confused yet?) – Another fun fact: They parked Mike’s car in victory lane for pictures, so if you weren’t at the race you would have never known about the little switch-a-roo! The best part of the night was when I spotted a wild donkey when we were leaving the racetrack! A wild donkey! I couldn’t believe it. I travel with a lot of donkeys, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a wild one.

Race 9 – Canyon Speedway – Peoria, AZ – Grumpy pants. Me, not Bryan. Bryan finished 3rd, which probably made me grumpier. Three days in a row at the racetrack with the dogs – without the t-shirt trailer to contain them – proved to be too much. Luckily the races got over early and we went to BJ’s Brewhouse for dinner, so that turned my mood right around.

Race 10 – Canyon Speedway – Peoria, AZ – Bryan “Parked It” for the 4th time of the year. We finally perfected the Victory Lane pose – we’re working on showing the sponsor on the car in pictures. It’s the marketing major in me, I can’t help it. So hopefully we’ll get to practice that pose a lot more this year!


Race 10: Victory Lane (Notice the Cancer Treatment Centers of America logo!)

Race 11 – Canyon Speedway – Peoria, AZ – Finally, the last night of the Winter Challenge at Canyon Speedway. Canyon is a pretty cool track and Bryan always does well there, but there is no plumbing/running water… Five nights at a track with portapotties (and no other option) is about four and a half nights too many for me. Bryan finished 2nd, but he tried everything he could to get around Josh Hodges for the win! Bryan threw some Rico-esque sliders that night, which made for an exciting race. Would have been more exciting if one of those sliders would have stuck, but you can’t win them all. At least that’s what Bryan keeps telling me!

Next Up: Three weeks in Florida!

Racers For Autism – 2016

Yesterday I mailed a check for $76,000 to the Autism Society of America! $76,000. I can’t believe how successful our event has become in just two years. Bryan and his car owner, Joe Dooling, hosted the 2nd Annual Racers For Autism event on January 11th at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event kicks off Chili Bowl week and I have to toot my own horn for a second – I think we did a pretty awesome job of doing that!

Check .png

Photo: Dylan Duvall

Last year, our first event raised over $40,000 for the Autism Society. With the help of the Autism Society and normal, expected growth, we were able to almost double what we did last year! I still can’t believe the turn out we had this year. Last year’s event was successful, but this year’s event was a PARTY! And a giant hit!

Bryan and I put so much effort – time, planning, stressing – into this, so it’s really rewarding being able to give such a HUGE donation to the Autism Society of America. There are so many people who are involved with the event and having all of that help and support makes things run just a little bit smoother! We had a huge support from sponsors this year – I want to give a special thank you to Todd and Susan LaHaise with Buffalo Wild Wings! I had so many people offer to help out on the day of the event and volunteer that night and I appreciate it, even if I did get a little bossy. Kelly Bacon is a rockstar and recruited a handful of ladies to help out at the event, so a giant THANK YOU! to Kelly for all of the help. My family, Bryan’s family – things wouldn’t have been as great as they were if I didn’t have all of you involved! Shout out to Brad at Cain’s Ballroom – he goes above and beyond to make sure everything is perfect for our event. He deals with my stressed-out-ball-of-nerves self… and he does it with a smile on his face!


Photo: Collin Markle

Tim Dugger – he killed it. Hands down the best part of our event! Listening to Tim play was an absolute blast, and the pictures from the dance floor from the end of the night prove it! I think Tim had as much fun as we all did, so good news for all of you new Tim Dugger fans – we want to have him back next year!

The most special part of the night for me was looking around the room and seeing all of our friends there supporting a cause that is so important to us. I had people calling and texting me the night before the event wanting to donate things for the silent auction – big things, like a Kyle Larson firesuit! We couldn’t raise as much money as we did without awesome auction items, so thank you to everyone who donated something! We had some pretty cool stuff… might be hard to top that next year, but we will sure try to! It means the world to me to have our friends support what we’re doing. It’s also really heartwarming to see everyone treat Ben like a superstar, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

You probably know by now, but the inspiration behind this event is our friend Ben. Ben just turned 23-years-old and he has autism. Ben is Bryan’s biggest fan and supporter, so we decided we wanted to do something for him. Our goal with this event is to spread awareness and acceptance for autism – and I think we’re doing a pretty darn good job at it! By raising so much money for the Autism Society, we’re helping them accomplish their goals: supporting autism education, awareness, advocacy, and assisting families living with autism.

Someone asked me what autism is to me. My answer? A thousand questions over and over. That’s Ben. That’s how he communicates. But for us, that’s ok. Yes, it gets frustrating and even annoying at times, but I have to remind myself that’s just how Ben’s mind works. My favorite thing about Ben is that he has no sense of hierarchy – he’s just as excited to see and talk to Tony Stewart as he is the kid who scrapes mud on Bryan’s midget. Everyone is equally important in his mind and I think we could all benefit from that mindset! Ben is extremely positive and always finds the best in a situation, even if it is something like “21st is great BC! You smoked that guy who finished last!”.

Over the last year, Bryan has had the chance to grow his relationship with the Autism Society. In May, we invited a group of families out to a day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. On race day, one of Bryan’s sponsors – Priority Aviation – donated 50 tickets to families with autism. We got the nicest letter from one of those families – the mom explained how they had always wanted to go to the Indy 500, but not knowing how their child would handle it, they never wanted to spend the money. When they were given free race tickets they decided they would go. She said it was an experience they never would have had if not for us. It’s such a great feeling hearing something like that. I look forward to growing this relationship even more! Bryan is a great advocate for autism because we deal with it on a personal level – We’ve seen the best and worst of Ben, but we love him for who he is. I don’t want to change Ben, but I do want him to have a fulfilling life.

We’re doing something great and it wouldn’t be what it is without the support of everyone in the racing community! So, one more time – thank you for making our 2nd Annual Racers For Autism event a success. Let’s do it again next year!

Chasing 200: Race 1 – 6

We’re 19 days into the new year and I already need a vacation! And I’m not doing a very good job on keeping my resolution of writing more!! But I did pack enough cotton balls for Chili Bowl, so I’m proud of that small accomplishment.

We just got home from Tulsa (and by “just” I mean two days ago) and I’m starting to get settled back in at home… Just in time to leave again! We leave for Phoenix on Thursday to go to the Winter Challenge 360 non-wing races at Canyon Speedway. We were originally supposed to leave on Wednesday, but quickly realized we need to maximize the days we spend at home! Thanks to Southwest and their no-change fees, I got our flights pushed back a day. The dogs are flying with us, so stay tuned on a post about traveling with two four-legged animals – that is if I don’t go crazy first.

Before we got home from the Chili Bowl, Bryan had been gone for almost a month. As a “welcome home” gesture, I made dinner last night… or tried to anyways. I now fully understand why I let Bryan handle the kitchen duties – I’m not very good at it! I made a cheesy chicken spaghetti… turns out you have to bake it for 45+ minutes, not the 10 minutes like I thought. We had our sides as an appetizer and then the rest of the meal about an hour later. One plus side of being on the road – no kitchen!

So let me catch you up on the races – We’re three percent of the way done with the Chasing 200 tour!

Race 1 – Western Springs, New Zealand – The year didn’t start exactly the way we had in mind. Bryan was running 2nd, battling for the lead when he hit a rut in the track and turned himself over. So, on to the next one…

Race 2 & 3 – Cocopah Speedway – Yuma, Arizona – I headed back to Indiana after New Zealand, so I took in Race 2 and 3 from the comfort of our new home! Chevy and I – Stew was too busy chewing on bones, playing with toys, and being Stewart to watch – watched the races on SpeedShift TV. Bryan said he was rusty in the winged car after the first night out, so things can only get better from here… I hope! (After proofreading this, Bryan said I made it sound like he did terrible – He didn’t. He finished 9th the first night and 16th the second night.)

Race 4 – Chili Bowl Race of Champions – Tulsa, Oklahoma – BC ran in the Race of Champions on Tuesday at Chili Bowl. He started 12th and finished 4th, so that was a good start to the week!

Race 5 – Chili Bowl Prelim Night – Tulsa, Oklahoma – Win #1! Bryan swept the night on Friday at Chili Bowl winning his heat race, qualifier, and the feature. Ironically enough, the first thing I sold after the races that night was a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. t-shirt…

Race 6 – Chili Bowl – Tulsa, Oklahoma – Bryan led a bunch of laps… was looking pretty strong… then a fan fell out of the stands. I figured that wasn’t a very good sign, so I took the dogs out for a bathroom break, got another drink, and made it back to my seat in time to watch Rico take the checkered flag for the second year in a row. Bryan and Rico made a late-night Tulsa deal earlier in the week – If Rico won and Bryan happened to finish on the podium, Bryan would catch Rico from his “victory leap.” I would have rather had Bryan win, but catching Rico during his victory celebration was pretty cool. It made for some cool pictures and an even better story that people will probably talk about for a long time!

That’s all for now! Time to go watch another episode of “Making A Murderer.”

Up next – a Racers For Autism recap. It was such an awesome event, it gets its own post!