With determination and Clauson’s memory fresh in his mind, Noah Key entered the 32nd annual Tulsa Shootout with both a mission and a goal: drive like BC would and try to park the No. 7BC in victory lane at the end of the week.
While he came slightly short of the goal, finishing 10th in the eighth B-Feature of the week, the mission was visible by all as Key’s clean driving and poise under pressure impressed both onlookers and the driver himself.
“It was really awesome to drive the car,” said Noah Key. “I was trying to be careful with it because I didn’t want to tear it up … that was the last thing I wanted! But it was really an honor. I was a little nervous before I went out on the track each time, because I knew a lot of people were watching me, but once I got on the track the butterflies went away and I drove the hardest I could trying to make it to the A Main.”
“It was easily my best Shootout to date. I’m really proud of the way we performed, and I don’t think I’d change a thing I did.”
As the Shootout closed and the Keys began preparations for the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, where they were fielding a midget for Chris Cochran, Noah Key realized that not only did he want to keep his tribute to BC as something that had only run in the Expo Center … the car itself had a bigger mission.
“When coming back home from the Shootout, I told my dad I didn’t want to race the 7BC all year and he didn’t really want to change the lettering on the car.”
Hence a decision was made by the Keys to bring the No. 7BC back to the Expo Center one more time, giving back to the family that helped push their racing journey to the next level.
Noah gave a speech on Friday night in presenting the car back to Tim Clauson and the Clauson-Marshall Racing team, circling a comment that Tim had made to them at the Chili Bowl three years prior.
“A few years ago in this building, a father told me to cherish the moments racing with my dad … the drives home from the track, the stories and the laughs, the long hours in the race shop together … in the end all of that is more valuable than what happens on the track.”
“I’ve always remembered that. I can’t thank Tim enough for all the contributions he and his family have always given and continue to open wheel racing.”
The hug that followed held tears … of thanks, of healing and of respect for a driver that tied two families together in a way that only racing can.”
“Seeing Tim so happy about (receiving the car), I felt really good afterwards.”
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