Hello! My name is Lauren. I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Illinois, but Indiana is my home now! I took a two year detour to Tampa, Florida on my route to Indy and I have been here for six years now. I have been involved in racing, in some way, since I was in my momma’s belly! My story is full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but…that’s racing.
The beginning…My parents own and operate their own company, Fast Lane Racing Apparel. They sell event merchandise at various racetracks and events across the country. When I was younger, my parents did a lot of NASCAR races, but they were always involved in sprint car racing, too. From the time I was old enough to say, “twenty dollars, please”I was in the merchandise trailer helping out. I didn’t have a “normal”upbringing by any means, but traveling and being at the races was normal for us! I was so lucky to be raised in a racing family.
Outside of working for my parents in the merchandise business, my first job in the industry was at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. I was Miss Eldora Speedway in 2010/2011. I was never a pageant girl and I had never done anything like that, but I ended up having the best experience! I got paid to represent one of the best dirt tracks in the country…how cool is that?! As Miss Eldora Speedway, my duties included engaging with fans, sharing my knowledge of the sport with those fans, and traveling to other tracks to continue to represent the brand. Yes, I was a “trophy girl,”but my position was so much more than that! I am so fortunate to be able to still represent Eldora from time to time…you’ll see more about that this weekend when I’m wearing my Miss Eldora hat at the All Star Circuit of Champions race on Saturday!
While I was Miss Eldora, I had the pleasure of meeting so many awesome people all over the country, but my favorite person I met along the way…Bryan Clauson. At the time, Bryan was driving for Tony Stewart Racing and I was working a TSR event in Knoxville, Iowa. We met in August 2010, went on our first date (Eldora Speeday banquet) in January 2011, and we were together ever since!
In 2012, I interned with the International Motorsports Industry Show under the marketing coordinator. My next internship was at Andretti Autosport with their client services team.
The one thing all of my experiences had in common up to this point: really awesome, really talented female boss/mentors! Starting from the beginning, I had my mom to look up to. As I get older, I have become more and more impressed and in awe of my parents and the success they have had with their business. My mom can hustle with the best of them and she’s worked long, hard hours my whole life. I definitely got my work ethic and my drive (OK, and my feistiness!) from my mother. She raised me to be tough and independent and I’m so glad that she did.
Misha Geisert at Eldora Speedway/Tony Stewart Racing, Jamie Harding at IMIS, Laura Cooper at Andretti - I learned so much about the industry, and life in general, from these women and I’m proud and thankful to have them all in my corner!
I have taken what I’ve learned and tried to apply it to my own dreams and plans in the racing world. I have a promotions company: Lauren Stewart Promotions. Right now, I promote one event annually. The “Shamrock Classic”is a USAC National Midget race in DuQuoin, Illinois and it is the only indoor race on the national schedule. The 3rd Annual event was this past March and it has been really cool to see how much momentum and excitement it has gained in three short years. I am a fan first and foremost, so as a promoter, I am constantly thinking to myself, “What would I want to see if I were sitting in the stands right now?”My goal with promoting a race is to make it an event. I want people to leave at the end of the night and feel like they really got their money’s worth. I want people to tell their friends and post about it on social media. I want my race to be the event you just have to go, so you mark it on your schedule months in advance. I have so much to learn and there is always room for improvement, but I enjoy wearing my promoter hat for a few months out of the year. My goal with Lauren Stewart Promotions would be to add another race or two…maybe as soon as 2019!
When people ask me how I got involved in racing, it’s an easy answer: I had no choice. (I totally did, but let’s be real - it’s all I ever knew, so I wasn’t going to end up anywhere else.) I grew up going to the track, it’s how my parents make their living. From as early as I can remember, I had friends all across the country because of racing. I have friends on the other side of the world now! So, like I said, it was a no brainer that I would be involved in the sport.
When I was dating Bryan, I was never content just being “Bryan’s girlfriend.”I always wanted to have my own identity and make my own path, too. I was lucky that Bryan supported that and wanted that for me as much as I wanted it for myself. We were teammates. He let me help him and he let me take on the things I knew I could do. With Bryan, I handled all of his merchandise (sales at the track, online orders), social media accounts, website, crazy ideas we came up with (like the Indiana Double), and travel plans. I loved being with Bryan and I loved the life we created together. It didn’t matter if we were at a dirt track in the middle of nowhere Missouri or on the biggest stage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we did it together and supported each other every step of the way. (Except for when he would rush me getting ready in the morning before leaving a hotel…I didn’t support that!)
When I lost Bryan, I never had any doubt about my future involvement in the sport. Sure, racing took Bryan away from me, but it also gave him to me in the first place! There are days and moments when I think it would be easier to walk away from all of it, but I know I wouldn’t be happy with that in the long run. So, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and keep on carving out my own path in this crazy world we love.
So, to sum it up: I’ve done a lot, but I want to do even more! Like I said earlier, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the advice and guidance from so many successful women along my path. I love surrounding myself with determined, hard working people - and when they’re determined, hard working females? Even better! I hope one day I can be for someone else what those ladies have been for me.