Racers for Autism raise $165k at Chili Bowl
Four years ago, 2014 Chili Bowl champion Bryan Clauson wanted to do something special to benefit his teenage friend, Ben William Hodgin, and others like him who have autism. So, Racers for Autism was formed and Clauson held his first benefit auction at the Cain's Ballroom.
It was an instant success.
"Bryan's goal was to start Chili Bowl week off with something with a
bang and have a lot of fun, raise money and do some good," said Ben Hodgin, father of Ben William Hodgin.
"We raised just over $37,000 and it doubled the next year. Bryan was real proud of that. From there it has just continued to grow every year."
Clauson died in a 2016 racing accident, but Racers for Autism has continued. In its fourth season, this year's event raised a record $165,375.
"It is a record," Hodgin said. "We have had a ton of folks who joined in this year. There are a lot of things that have happened and we certainly miss having Bryan with us to be a part of the event.
"This year raised more then $15,000 from last year and we are looking to next year now."
Hodgin is thankful for what Clauson has done for his son and those with autism.
"We are happy we can continue his (Bryan's) legacy and work," Hodgin said. "This helps a lot of people.
"The Autism Society has been the beneficiary from the beginning. Every bit of it goes back to them. It helps lots of children and adults like our son Ben, going through the transition into adulthood. Bryan was a big part of his life."
In addition to the auction, a new event, the Breakfast of Champions, was held on Friday. Many past Chili Bowl champions and former Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford were on hand to speak and sign autographs with fans who paid $100 a plate to attend. The money raised also went to Racers for Autism.
"The Breakfast of Champions by Mark Stevens and his group was fantastic," Hodgin said. "He worked with the Emmett Hahn and Lanny Edwards family and they made it an official Chili Bowl event. They chose Racers for Autism in Bryan's honor and we received $6,000 from that and there may be more to come.
"We are hoping we can continue to grow."
Hodgin says he is amazed at the outpouring of the racing community.
"So many folks that bid, sponsors, fans and friends have been a part of this," he said. "The racing community is incredible.
"They have rallied around our son. There is no better place on earth then being at a race track for him."