By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana (December 21, 2021)………Mario Clouser has spent extensive behind the wheel of Sprint Cars and Midgets throughout his career, but in 2022, he’ll take on a new venture as a Rookie with the USAC Silver Crown National Championship aboard the Joliet, Ill.-based Kazmark Motorsports No. 92.
Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) has made a grand total of 101 career USAC National feature starts – 56 Midget & 45 Sprint – but never before has he competed in a USAC Silver Crown event outside of a brief test with RW Motorsports around a decade ago.
Now, the 32-year-old driver has been provided the opportunity to take the wheel of a champ car, something that he’s been eagerly awaiting his initial shot at. Now, that time arrives in 2022.
“I’ve wanted to run some Silver Crown stuff for a long time,” Clouser admitted. “We used to run the pavement Midget and got to watch them often when we ran alongside the Silver Crown cars, so this is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
Clouser knows there’ll be a learning curve as he gets accustomed to the longer distance races, the bigger tracks, the extensive fuel load, etc., etc. However, he hopes the learning curve is shortened just a bit due to the crew he’ll be working with on the all-Illinois team.
Crew chief Bill Guess has worked with Clouser on the midget side of the equation for much of the past decade and the two have teamed up for a sprint car run in recent years at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Kazmark’s history of USAC Silver Crown success includes a victory with driver Chris Windom during the 2017 Sumar Classic at Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track. The group’s success dates back to the Bob Hoerner No. 92 which won twice during the decade of the 1990s, first with Jimmy Kite at Phoenix International Raceway in 1997 and with Dave Steele at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1999.
The high majority of driver duties for Kazmark’s team in recent years belong to Jim Anderson on the pavement. The team, which hasn’t fielded a dirt entry with the series since Dave Darland in 2018, anticipates a full slate for the team’s program by season’s end as Clouser progresses throughout the coming year.
“We look forward to running all the pavement races in 2022 with Mario and hope to possibly add some dirt races to the mix later in the season,” team owner Gene Kazmark said.
Clouser has seen the success; he’s seen the equipment; and he’s prepared for his opportunity with an experienced crew who’ll be there to guide him as he learns the ropes of Silver Crown racing, so to speak.
“They’ve been doing it for a while, so they know what they need to do and what needs to happen to put together a good evening,” Clouser said of the Kazmark team. “That will hopefully take a lot of the load off me. I’ll be able to drive, and they’ll be able to teach me a lot in a short amount of time so I won’t have as steep of a learning curve as I would with someone else. Bill’s been great to work with over the past few years and he’s got a pretty good handle on what the car needs to go around the track really well, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Outside of IRP and Toledo, on the pavement side, Clouser is set to compete on a whole new slate of tracks, including Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway, Indiana’s Winchester Speedway and Madison, Illinois’ World Wide Technology Raceway. As a regular on USAC’s Midget trail early in his career, Clouser raced a fair share of pavement. In recent years, his sprint car racing has mostly been confined to dirt where he captured the 2021 POWRi WAR Sprint Car title.
However, Clouser is treating the new year as a completely new experience, from scratch, in a new type of a car with a whole set of new experiences to come in the new year.
“It’s essentially going to be all-new in my mind,” Clouser estimated. “I don’t have anything I can really lean on experience-wise besides the midget, which we’ve ran the last couple years here and there. Otherwise, it’s going to be kind of like starting over.”
Clouser plans to start his 2022 campaign with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship on February 17-18-19 at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park in the Eberhardt-Zirzow Racing No. 6. His first foray in the USAC Silver Crown car will arrive on May 27 during the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park