From the Pantagraph
April 23, 2015
pm • By Bruce
school sophomores, Spencer Bayston has some
classes he likes more than others.
"There's a construction class that I really enjoy, where
we'll actually build a house our junior and senior year,"
Unlike most 16-year-old sophomores, Bayston also will
be getting acclimated to racing a high-powered sprint
car while simultaneously learning how to read a
blueprint. While it's still unclear how he'll fare in
pounding nails according to specifications, his attempt
at building a racing career has gotten off to a
resoundingly successful start.
Two weeks ago, the youngster outdueled reigning
series champ Zach Daum to capture a POWRi Lucas
Oil National Midget Series feature at Belle-Claire
Speedway in Belleville. He'll try to repeat the fete this
weekend when the POWRi series visits Central Illinois
and Jacksonville Speedway on Friday night, before
competing at Macon Speedway on Saturday.
While winning a national touring series event is
certainly a feather in one's cap, Bayston's most
impressive accomplishment may have come earlier this
year. That's when he outran well over 300 entrants, many of them familiar names to the most casual of
racing fans, for one of only 24 starting spots in the iconic Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla.
That came to the delight of car owner Bryan Clauson, who also provides Bayston with some coaching and
When it comes to wheeling a midget or sprint car, Bayston would be hard-pressed to find a better mentor.
Although only 25, Clauson already is a three-time USAC National Sprint Car Series champion, has been a
runner-up in the NASCAR Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series rookie chase and has an appearance in the 2012
Indianapolis 500 on his resume with another on the slate a month from now.
Clauson's father, Tim, serves as "crew chief" on Bayston's POWRi midget and sees some similarities
between Bayston and where his son was 10
"Bryan had more experience when he was 16
than Spencer has, but I'd say there are a lot of
the same characteristics," Tim Clauson said.
"Speed-wise, instinct-wise, he's got that."
The thing that most impresses the elder
Clauson about the up-and-coming Bayston is
the youngster's character and eagerness to
"We try to find young kids that we feel have the
talent to get to the next level and we try to give
them our experience, equipment and knowledge
to speed up the learning curve," Clauson said.
"The one thing about Spencer that sets him
apart from most kids is his maturity. He
understands it's a process and he never gets
ahead of himself. Early on he would have
flashes of brilliance, but he never got a big
head and thought he was better than he truly
was. That was especially good, because there
would then be nights when we would really struggle."
Bayston says there were indeed ups and downs in last year's season that netted him POWRi Rookie of the
"We'd have a few good nights with good finishes and then right after that I'd be awful," he said. "I'd spin out,
wreck the car or make mistakes.
"It could be a humbling experience, but Bryan was always there, coaching me and telling me what I was
doing right or wrong. It was always in a positive way and he kept up my confidence.
Tim Clauson said that after some early struggles, by mid-season Bayston began consistently running
among the POWRi leaders, putting himself in a position to win. In finally happened in just the third race of
his second season.
Bayston first appeared on Clauson's radar as a 14-year-old when he won 10 of 15 main events and the
championship in the Mel Kenyon Midget Series, an Indiana-based "spec" series.
Prior to that, Bayston raced a quarter-midget and a 600cc Micro Sprint, primarily for the simple fun that it
provided through a family outing for he and his father, Brett.
The Baystons' fun extends beyond racing. They also enjoy spending time together in the outdoors and in
the late fall and early winter they've had occasion to wend their way through the harvested corn and
soybean fields of Livingston County, hunting pheasant together.
The family resides in Lebanon, Ind., but Brett Bayston grew up in Chatsworth and was a member of the final
graduating class at Chatsworth High School before it consolidated into the Prairie Central school district.
After graduating from the University of Illinois, he took a job with the Edward Jones brokerage firm in Marion,
Ind. It was in Marion that he met his wife, Shari.
Spencer has an older sister, Grace, who is a senior at Lebanon High School. His grandparents, Gerald and
Helen Bayston, still live in Chatsworth and frequently attend his races, as does an uncle, Bart, who lives in
Those races this season will include a focused foray into USAC midgets. Bayston also will split his time
between POWRi midgets and some regional sprint car racing in Indiana. A move into the more demanding
and powerful USAC national sprint car ranks shouldn't be too far off, but with Clauson's guidance, they're
taking it all one step at a time.
Bayston had his first sprint car test at Paragon Speedway in southern Indiana the Sunday after winning his
first POWRi feature at Belleville.
"He looked natural in it," Clauson said. "As good as he ever has."
Contact Bruce Yentes at email@example.com