Not all trips leading to an open-wheel racing career are smooth, and Hoosier State native Dustin Clark can certainly second that statement. There were a number of unexpected events that occurred.
One of those having a different last name for part of his career.
His career in racing started with motocross ATVs, where he suffered some painful falls, including a broken collar bone.
“My mom said it would be OK for me to do it when I was about 15, but said she was too nervous to come to the races,” Clark recalled.
“I was 21 before I realized what oval track racing was all about.”
But over time, Clark made the decision to move to auto racing, and began competing in a UMP modified. He raced near his Washington, Ind., home on tracks like Bloomington Speedway, Brownstown Speedway, Tri-State Speedway, and Lincoln Park Speedway.
After three years in the modifieds, he moved to 600 micro-sprints for a couple of years. Dustin made some impressive runs, like qualifying for the Tulsa Shootout in the Outlaw class while competing against some high-end talent.
“I really enjoyed competing against guys like Christopher Bell,” he shared.
He felt his racing career was building momentum, however, when he became a father he dropped out of racing for the 2016 season.
“I missed racing terribly and just died sitting and watching the micros run,” Clark said. “So, I went back to them in 2017 and did pretty well, with six wins along with making the features of a number of the big races.”
In 2018, he again started the season competing in micro-sprints.
“But with what I was spending with those cars, I figured I might as well get a non-winged sprint car and give it a shot,” noted Clark. “It was now or never, as I wasn’t getting any younger, so I put all the micro stuff up for sale and sold it all.
DOB: – Nov. 7, 1985
HOMETOWN: – Washington, Ind.
SERIES: – USAC/MSCS non-winged sprints.
SPONSORS: – Benic Enterprises,
– Briggeman Body Shop
“Car owner Scott Benic sold me one of his non-winged sprinters and became a mentor, and taught me a ton about driving it. Then I decided to go to Florida Speedweeks this past winter, just to watch. Since I had my car there, I got it out on the track but stayed out of the way of the USAC guys. Then I tried competing. Things got better, and I was just a couple places out of making a feature.”
Dustin did take the checkered flag at an MSCS race. And Benic is impressed with Clark’s progress.
“He wants to learn these cars and is really starting to get it,” Benic said.
This 33-year-old rookie came back home and decided to run the whole 2019 USAC National Sprint Car Series with many of the races on those familiar Indiana tracks. He ran 37 races.
While he didn’t take any feature wins, he earned four heat wins and ended the season with a point finish of 12th. He might have finished higher in the points had he not missed several races.
Meanwhile, as fans were beginning to know the name Dustin Christie, in 2019 he took the last name of his biological father, legally changing his name to Dustin Clark.
In 2020, he was planning to follow the USAC National Sprint Car Series schedule and ran the events in Florida prior to the coronavirus putting a temporary halt to the racing season.
But remember the name Dustin Clark. Chances are, it will be useful later on.