SportsIndy 500


'We think about Bryan every day': Tragedy sparks organization between longtime friends

Screenshot 2024-05-01 141600.png
web 1.jpg
web 4 (1).jpg
web 2.jpg
web 3.jpg
Posted at 2:28 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 10:01:37-04

NOBLESVILLE — From tragedy an organization was built to help others.

Noblesville's racing legend Bryan Clauson made his Indy 500 debut in 2012 and led three laps in the Indianapolis 500 in 2016.

In August 2016, Clauson was tragically killed in a racing crash while leading at the 39th Annual Belleville Nationals in Kansas.

“We think about Bryan every day,” Ben William Hodgin said.

Bryan Clauson and Ben William Hodgin were the best of friends. Every race, Hodgin was was there and so was Ben’s family.

Ben William Hodgin is on the Autism Spectrum.

“Bryan took it upon himself to introduce autism to the racing community,” Beth Hodgin, Ben's mother said.

Since that tragic day in 2016, Ben and his family have been working to honor Bryan and provide for those who are on the spectrum.

“We just hope that we honor him, it’s a gift that that he gave to us,” Ben Hodgin said.

Together they created an organization called Todays Champions.

“Today’s champions evolved from Bryan's efforts around Ben and creating awareness and acceptance for those with autism,” Beth Hodgin said.

The organization provides sensory backpacks that include objects like headphones, sunglasses, stress foam cylinder and a fidget tangler that help provide relaxation and stress relief for those with autism.

As Ben and his family puts the backpacks together – they will be handed out to people at the Indianapolis 500.

“300 went out just in the month of May,” Beth Hodgin said. "Ben carries Bryan wherever he goes, his thumb print on this necklace – that he has never taken off, knowing that his best friend will always be by his side."

“It keeps me going every day,” Ben Hodgin said.

To this day, Ben says he never misses a race, whether it’s at the track or on TV.

Last year was the family’s first year the backpacks were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Hodgins says when you come out to the track you can ask a yellow shirt where to get a backpack.