A Drive for Life
Pippa Mann Partners With Donate Life Indiana, Honors Late Bryan Clauson On & Off the Racetrack
Writer: Josh Brown
Photos Provided by Donate Life Indiana
IndyCar driver Pippa Mann wants you to become a donor.
Recently, Mann held a press conference on March 20 at the Indiana State Museum to announce a new partnership with Donate Life Indiana and unveiled the renderings for her racecar in this year’s 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Donate life Indiana will be the primary sponsor on Mann’s No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing car.
The conference kicked off Mann’s initiative to educate new drivers about donor registration — a topic that is near and dear to her. Mann was teammates and friends with the late Bryan Clauson, who died in 2016 after a wreck that flipped his car in the Belleville Nationals midget race. Clauson, a Noblesville High School alum, was a registered organ donor and his contribution helped save five lives. Clauson’s story left a profound impact on the racing world and sparked the Driven2SaveLives campaign as well.
“I am incredibly proud to be partnering with Donate Life both on and off the racetrack,” Mann says. “I get to drive a car that has special meaning to me. I was teammates with Bryan Clauson, and we became good friends. To learn that Bryan was an organ donor, that was very meaningful and left an impact on me. This is bigger than any one person, though. This is about everyone who is on the donor waiting list. It is about being able to give hope and life to someone else.”
Ever since Bryan’s passing, Mann has been supporting the Clauson family in many ways, including being a part of the Driven2SaveLives campaign. When the family found out that Mann was partnering with Donate Life Indiana this season to put this cause at the forefront, both on and off the racetrack, they were humbled.
“We are really excited,” says Taylor McLean, Bryan’s little sister. “Pippa has always been a wonderful friend to Bryan. From the very start, she was so gracious and wonderful to our family and to him. For her to honor Bryan in this way and continue his legacy, we’re humbled and proud and excited that Bryan gets to ride along with her in May.”
Prior to Bryan’s passing, McLean says that organ donation really wasn’t something the family talked about or discussed much. Because of how many lives he was able to save after his death though, the Clausons realized first-hand the importance and impact of checking yes and becoming an organ donor.
“I am extremely proud of that decision Bryan made to become a donor, and he did it in such a way that was really who he is — he never told anybody that was what he wanted to do if something were to happen to him, he just did it,” McLean says. “To know that there were five other families on the other end of it that were able to celebrate life the day we said goodbye to Bryan, that is something that gives us peace and helps us through those tough days when we are missing him.”
McLean believes so strongly in the donor cause that she actually now works for the Indiana Donor Network serving as its Community Relations Coordinator. A major goal for the organization is to educate teenagers on the importance of becoming an organ donor and why they should check yes for that status as they get their drivers license.
“If we can at least start the conversation with these young teens, or anybody really, about the positive things that can come from being a donor, that is all we really want to do,” she says. “We want them to make an educated decision and talk about it with their families.
“Working for the Indiana Donor Network has given me a way to honor my brother every single day,” McLean adds. “It never feels like work because this is something that I am passionate about. I get to do something that makes a difference, and it is something that I am connected to.”
As part of the initiative, Mann will be representing Donate Life Indiana as a spokesperson off the track as well. She will be visiting schools and driver’s education classes to educate students and teachers on the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation.
“This is a cause that is very close to my heart,” Mann says. “I am honored to have been asked to drive the Donate Life car this May. Off the racetrack is where this partnership gets really important. I want to be sure Hoosier high school students are able to make an educated decision about donation when they go to the BMV to sign up for their first driver’s license.”
“Our education team is committed to partnering with Pippa and students and teachers across the state to bring the message of organ donation and transplantation to as many students as possible,” adds Steve Johnson, Board Chairman for Donate Life Indiana.
McLean says this year’s Indy 500 will certainly be an emotional one for her and the Clauson family.
“To have somebody like Pippa who, on the biggest moment of her life on race day, is thinking of Bryan and racing for him, it is an honor and really hard to put into words honestly,” McLean says. “We get emotional every time we talk to her about it. We are just so glad that Bryan had a friendship with someone like her. This year we are excited to spread the message and honor Bryan again with Pippa alongside us. It is humbling to see her join this cause, a cause that she truly, 100 percent supports and is connected to. As a family, we are going to stand by her side and fight for those families who need a second chance and a little hope on their worst day.”
For more information on the campaign visit DonateLifeIndiana.org/pippa.