Lex Mills - Chasing My Memories of BC!

Monday, August 29, 2016
It’s been a couple months since I’ve blogged, but I have just wrapped up the busiest month of my life.  Trust me when I tell you “the busiest,” I have no idea where my summer went.  Now, I’m already a week through my senior year of high school…that doesn’t even seem possible.  I have so much to write about from not just the past month, but what was the hardest, most rewarding, two weeks I’ve endured.  It will more than likely take a couple blogs, so bear with me. 

The beginning of August, I had packed up basically my whole life here at my house to go out on the road for a couple of days and then to Knoxville for the nationals.  I got the experience of a lifetime. 

I left Tuesday morning to head to Knoxville, where I was getting in the truck and joining Bryan Clauson and Lauren Stewart on the "Circular Insanity, Chasing 200 Tour.” They were taking me to my first outdoor midget race that night in Fairbury, NE.  Bryan Clauson, known as the guy who can wheel anything, and doing something this year that many people dream of. 
Fairbury, NE, started out to be a rough night, but he turned that around in his heat and feature.  It was so fun to watch him. He put on one heck of a show, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. 
Beloit, KS, was on tap for Wednesday night.  I got to experience him WIN and victory lane in the Midget.  That was neat.  When you’re chasing 200 races though, there’s not a lot of time to celebrate.  We had a 6 hour trip ahead of us to Knoxville for him to qualify Thursday for the 360 Nationals.  The 6 hour trip was full of 90’s rap music, a killer Garth Brooks concert, and a bug that we searched for the whole time.  Now this bug story is my favorite.  Not even twenty minutes into the 6 hour trip back to Knoxville, a grasshopper landed on Lauren’s leg where she screamed and lost the grasshopper.  Now B HATES bugs! He made Lauren and I turn on all the truck lights and our flashlights to find it, but it was nowhere to be found. About three hours into the trip, B screams like a little girl thinking the grasshopper was on his leg.  Lauren turned on the lights to only find out it was a little string from Bryan’s shorts that had touched his leg.  We rolled into Knoxville at 5:30 Thursday morning, where we went straight to bed and still hadn’t found the grasshopper.  Exactly a week later, after Bryan had passed and Lauren had made it back to Knoxville, I was working in the merchandise trailer when Lauren texted me. She sent me a picture and said “I found the grasshopper.” I immediately ran over to the motor home and she told me it had crawled out from under his suit that was on the table where she was doing work.  I cried a lot and I honestly didn’t think I had any tears left.  Knowing Bryan was sending us signs, especially Lauren because it’s the little things that will keep her going, made me happy. 

I got the privilege to get to know them last year while working for the National Sprint League.  Bryan had got a ride with Matt Wood Racing where they competed in the series.  I was scared to death of Lauren at first, there’s a story behind why that I won’t explain, but we laugh about it now.  And then there was Bryan; so friendly and one heck of a driver.  By the end of that year, I was pretty close with them. 

My mom and I flew out to Indianapolis for PRI in December, and Bryan and Lauren had invited us over to see their new house in Noblesville, go to dinner, and see Christmas lights.  I look back now and realize how special that was. 

In March, I really wanted to help with their indoor race in DuQuoin, IL.  I had always looked up to Lauren and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn from her.  I ended up working that event and had a blast.  The ride home on Sunday after the event, I received a text from Bryan that I ironically kept.  “Hey Lex, it’s BC… Just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work yesterday!  We couldn’t have done it without your help.”  Bryan didn’t have to go out of his way to get my number from Lauren and text me, but he did.  That’s the kind of person he was.  I could keep on with stories about Bryan like when they took me to the PBR in Des Moines, but I think you guys understand the person he was, if you didn’t already know. 

I was lucky enough to experience the incredible bond Bryan and Lauren had numerous times.  Lauren was the one to represent him, and she represented him in the most professional manner.  They made an unbelievable team.  What many of you don’t know is Lauren has a marketing degree.  She went to college for four years, missing a lot of Bryan’s races.  I have a lot of respect for her because of that.  They hosted a charity event together, and an indoor USAC midget race, "the double” which was the Indy 500 during the day and then Kokomo that night, and so much more.  Lauren has always been strong, and she continues to have that strength through the process of losing her best friend, her fiancé, and the most perfect man.

I have a hard time trying to understand why Bryan had to leave this earth at only 27.  Yes, I get it.  God has a plan and Bryan did more things in 27 short years than many do in their lifetime.  But he was taken from my friend, his fiancé, when they had a wedding planned for February 4th, children to be had, and a whole new life to be started together officially as Bryan and Lauren Clauson. 

We just celebrated Bryan’s life at Kokomo Speedway in Kokomo, Indiana.  Now, I’m not going to remember Kokomo the reason B would want me to, the racing.  I will remember it by surviving 8 tornados, sitting in the hotel laundry room for hours, and no power what so ever.  B’s celebration of life was simply AMAZING.  Looking up in the merchandise trailer to see no end to the line, listening to all the stories and memories people had of Bryan, and being surrounded by the racing community. 

When Lauren and Bryan first moved into their home and I visited it, there were hardly any decorations or furniture.  We laugh because Lauren was all excited to decorate this beautiful home, but she hired an interior design instead.  She texted me that she walked into the furniture store, looked for five minutes, then walked out because she was overwhelmed and hired someone.  When I went back to their home last week, so much of it made me smile.  From seeing a part of the wall with Bryan’s golden driller from winning the Chili Bowl and his pink helmet, to his suits lying there. They all are just small reminders of how incredible he was.  I am so proud to have known B and for him to have made such an incredible impact on me in just a short time.

Now the Chasing 200 still lives on, as Lauren continues to amaze me.  As I type
this right now, 3,375 people have signed up nationally to be an Organ donor.  They originally set the goal for 200, but instead they have gotten 2,000 in just 24 short hours.  This is how incredible B was. 

Continue to pray for Lauren, and both their families during this difficult time. 

I only touched the subject of Bryan because I have so much to share, but stay tuned for my next blog on the Steve King Foundation Luncheon.