Bryan Clauson ended 2015 the same way he started — driving to a Midget Car victory in New Zealand.
The Noblesville, Indiana racer celebrated the New Year with a January 1 victory at Auckland’s Western Springs and closed it some 130 races later with a Baypark Speedway (Mt Maunganui) feature win last night — making it 21 main event wins for the year.
And now the hard work really begins.
Clauson, 26, is ramping up his hectic schedule of Midget and Sprint Car racing in 2016, hoping to get a start on his ‘‘Chase to 200’’ race programme at Western Springs on January 1.
Clauson has worked with his Sprint Car and Midget Car teams owners, searched the race schedules and flight timetables to chase a daunting programme of 200 events in 2016. He’s also hoping the weather doesn’t interfere too many times.
‘‘We’ve coined it the ‘Circular Insanity’ tour’’ says Clauson, a reference to all of the races being on oval tracks.
The goal is to compete in 200 events during the 2016 calendar year. Practice and qualifying days won’t count towards the tally but racing two classes on one night — or racing at two events the same day — will count double.
And all going to plan Clauson will be back in New Zealand in late 2016 with the ‘‘Chase to 200’’ ticker on his website up in the high 190s.
‘‘As it stands it’s about 100 winged sprint car races, 45 non-wing, about 30 midget races in the ‘States and five to eight midget races outside of the ‘States, one Indy Car race, some USAC Silver Crown races and whatever else we can fit in.
‘‘If it’s a big race we try and put it on the schedule.
‘‘The first part of the schedule is pretty solid but it will be fluid throughout the year based on weather and things, but obviously every race counts when you trying to get to 200.
Speedway champion Bryan Clauson about to start a New Year Circular Insanity Tour. Picture/Greg Henderson Photography.
‘‘It’s been 130 races this year (2015) so we are adding a big chunk to that. But the way we have got it structured should make it doable and a lot of fun. Clauson gets a head start and an extended season by racing through New Zealand’s summer.
‘‘It will start here in New Zealand and hopefully finish here,’’ he says.
‘‘And if we roll into New Zealand at about 193 we’ll make sure to line-up a sprint car ride and see if we can do double duty on some nights and get to 200.’’ Since announcing the ‘‘Chase to 200’’ the concept has captured the imagination of short track racing fans.
‘‘We have a counter on www.bryanclauson.com and there will be a schedule of where we think we’re going to be at for people to have some fun following along. And we’ll keep everyone up to date on our social media.’’
It’s entirely a dirt track programme with a single notable exception.
In May Clauson will attempt to make his third Indianapolis 500 start, carrying the support of short track fans at the 100th edition of the Indy 500 with the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing squad.
‘‘That place (Indianapolis) is so special. I grew up around the Speedway. I lived about 20 minutes from there as a kid and still live 20 minutes from there.
Bryan Clauson continues his winning way at Mt Maunganui. Picture/Greg Henderson Photography.
‘‘I call it Disneyland for race car drivers because it’s the happiest place on earth and so much fun. If you are one of those 33 guys in the race on Sunday there is nothing like it.’’
In New Zealand this summer Clauson has extended his impressive winning run with the United Truck Parts team of Brian and Annette Theobald. He won the World 30-lap Derby at Western Springs on December 28 and Baypark’s 40-lapper two nights later.
He races the ‘‘King of the Springs’’ 40-lapper on Friday night, the World 50-lapper on Sunday and flies to a sprint car race in Arizona on Tuesday before the Chili Bowl indoor midget car extravaganza at Tulsa, Oklahoma January 12-16.