TULSA, Okla. — In 2017, a vision that was conjured up by the late Bryan Clauson came to life inside the River Spirit Expo Center during the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
That year, Clauson Marshall Racing debuted BC’s Dream Team, a collection of some of the best drivers in their respective disciplines that was assembled to chase the coveted Golden Driller trophy.
This week, the CMR Dream Team returns to Tulsa, Okla., for its fifth installment under the Clauson Marshall banner.
The five-year mark is a milestone that team co-owner Tim Clauson admitted snuck up on him over the winter, though, it is a moment he cherishes just as proudly as the day the program began.
“Man, it really has been a journey,” said Clauson. “We’ve had some great, great drivers as a part of this. I think if you go back to that first year, where we had Donny (Schatz), a World of Outlaws champion. We had Jason Johnson, who was coming off a Knoxville Nationals win — maybe one of the best races in the history of the sport. We had Shane Golobic, who had won his second or third Trophy Cup at the time. Sunshine (Tyler Courtney) was a part of that … I don’t know if we could ever put together a lineup as dangerous as that one was, but it also taught us a lot about the family aspect of what we do, too.
“In our eyes, it’s not just about having bad-ass race car drivers on our team, but it’s about having good people and good, professional race car drivers who can mentor the younger kids in our group,” Clauson continued. “That’s something that has always kind of stuck with us, whether we bring six cars or whatever it is. One year we had eight cars and now we’ve kind of settled into that five-car lineup, which gives us one car per night.
“We’ve come a long way, but it’s still those parameters that we look at. We want great race car drivers, but we’ve got to have people that fit our situation as well and I think we’ve done that year after year.”
Among the five-driver CMR Chili Bowl team this year are NASCAR stars Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., as well as double USAC champion Tyler Courtney and young guns Cole Bodine and Chance Crum.
Courtney has become the de facto leader of the CMR Dream Team, a role Clauson feels he “naturally grew into” after workingin the Clauson race shop as a teenager more than a decade ago.
“Tyler actually came to us when he was 14 years old, before he ever had an opportunity to race anything at this level,” Clauson recalled. “It started off with him just really being a grunt for us for a season. When Bryan and I had our first midget team that we went USAC racing with, we told him that we might give him a shot in a car at the end of the year and we eventually did that for him. And he subsequently went out and got it upside down in hot laps.
“But Tyler was a kid who had worked so hard that year to go racing and to learn from us and we wanted to reward him for that,” Clauson added. “We ended up putting together a car for him at the Chili Bowl and now all these years later he’s with us and really pushing this team forward. It’s a proud thing for us.”
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