By Crystal Leto
On Thursday, October 26, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum’s Bryan Clauson Suite Tower in Knoxville, IA, was officially topped out during an emotional ceremony to celebrate the construction milestone and remember the life of racer Bryan Clauson, the suite tower’s namesake.
Topping out is a time honored tradition in the construction industry. Topping out this structure was especially moving because of how it came to be. The new facility will, of course, generate additional revenue to support the museum – but there’s also a lot of heart in the Bryan Clauson Suite Tower.
From donating funds, services and supplies to simply showing up or having known, loved and admired Bryan Clauson – the enthusiasm, passion and support from the Sprint Car community made this topping out ceremony truly special.
Richard Marshall and his wife Jennifer, who donated a large portion of the funds needed for the project, named the facility in memory of Bryan Clauson. He said the building is “not only a wonderful dedication to Bryan Clauson, I think it’s a really cool symbol of how great the community has come together.”
Prior to the ceremony, the final beam was the center of activity. The beam was painted white and covered in signatures of those who’d contributed to the project’s success so far.
The Ironworkers then welded the stem of a an artificial evergreen tree to the center and flag poles – one for an American flag and one for an Iron Workers Local 67 flag – to each end. With these steps complete, the beam was moved into place and ready to go.
Before the beam was lifted, National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum Executive Director Bob Baker thanked everyone involved in the project and recalled the project’s goals, saying they “wanted to honor Bryan Clauson and his legacy, all of the things he’s done in racing – on and off the racetrack – and we also wanted to do something to help the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum sustain its financial growth throughout the year.”
Construction of the addition could not interfere with the 2017 Knoxville Raceway season or obstruct the race teams’ access to the infield. Bob complimented the project crews – led by Project Superintendent Scott Parker – on their progress and, with the safety of streams of fans in mind, the safety measures put in place to maintain a secure jobsite. Bob went on to praise Scott’s ability to recognize and meet the unique needs of the project saying “Scott is the crew chief on Austin McCarl’s race car, so he knows how important it is to keep this alleyway here open so the race team can go in and out after the races and how important it is for everybody to be safe around the racetrack.”
“I’ve been involved in sprint car racing pretty much all my life and I’m honored to be a part of this. It’s really something,” Scott said.
When asked by Jennifer Marshall if she’d share what she was thinking, Lauren Stewart, Bryan’s fiancé, said, “I was actually kind of just standing there in awe, looking up at the building thinking ‘man this is a heck of an impact to have on the track.’ Totally changed the landscape, totally changed Knoxville – such a historical place with so much tradition. Bryan loved it. I’ve loved it.”
A mix of emotions and chatter filled the air as the crew prepared the beam and the crane lifted it into position. Ironworkers skillfully communicated with the crane operator via hand signals to bring the final beam home then bolted it into place, officially topping out the Bryan Clauson Suite Tower.
Construction of the addition, designed by DesignBuild Solutions, Neumann’s in-house design-build subsidiary, began in June of this year. The five-story, 12,365 SF, facility will provide spectator seating in 12 enclosed suites with exterior observation decks. The project is on schedule for completion next spring. The grand opening of the Bryan Clauson Suite Tower is tentatively planned for April 18, 2018 – mark your calendars now, watch for updates and plan to attend!
Topping out is a special milestone in the construction industry. It signifies that the structure has reached maximum height, or “topped out”. The final beam is painted white, then those involved in the project sign it, an American flag and an evergreen tree are added, a crane lifts it into position and finally ironworkers guide, set and connect the final roof beam. Read more about the history of topping out in the Polk County Criminal Courts project post by Ashley Albaugh.