Racing is one of those activities that, once you’re infected, you carry it with you for life. This is certainly true with Athena Racing board adviser Gary Clasen.
Gary got his start in both racing and business at the tender age of 11 when he convinced his parents to finance his first quarter midget car over three years based on the earnings from his paper route.
From there it was half midgets, TQ midgets, and a number of other classes.
Gary moved on from the driver’s seat but he states, racing stays with you forever. He continues to sponsor local racers to this day.
His other fundraising and philanthropic endeavors include local high schools, community colleges, and hospitals. Gary is a firm believer in the value turning a wrench can have, and it is why he has tirelessly advocated for shop programs in local schools.
Most recently he led the capital program to bring a Boys and Girls Club facility to Helix High School. Gary is an indefatigable champion of extracurricular activities that cement character in our young people.
And Athena Racing is just such a program.
Gary brings years of successful fundraising prowess and non-profit advocacy to Athena’s board.
teachings of a Mentor
“Initially, I was asked to consult regarding fundraising. After meeting several times with Loxley Browne, I became engaged in the goals and concepts. I shared a deep understanding of the road ahead for people in this modern world who wish to choose a path that includes the concepts of STEM. To me, it sounds courageous. After meeting Loxley’s team of young women, I knew I could help.
The future: here we are, let’s make this work! Let’s win this race! ARE YOU IN?”
– Gary Clasen
As a high school student in the LA Inner City schools, many of us learned mathematics through shop classes. I was one of those kids. Cutting threads required basic skills in trigonometry and calculus level math. At that point I was racing my midget and fell in love with the work I was doing in shop class. I won an award from the Rotary Club in Los Angeles – “Top Shop Kid of the Year.” I still have that award on my office wall.
Many, many….from trophies to awards to proclamations. They just represent that journey.
But the journey goes on even after the checkered flag drops.
I worked jobs since age 11 starting with my paper route. However, my career truly began with AAA. I started in the stock room and ended up in charge of Member Insurance Services & Government Affairs in San Diego. Without the benefit of a college degree, I believe my racing history was what kept me in the winner’s circle. As a AAA manager, we won many corporate awards and more proclamations than I count.
Over the past couple of decades, my wife Denise and I worked together to create one of the most successful catering and event businesses in San Diego. Again, learning from teamwork and believing in a purpose.
In racing everyone had the same rules, the same size track, and the same number of laps in order to win or lose. It taught me to have a plan and goals; and, most importantly a desire to always give it your very best.
I also learned that it takes a team to win. We had great teams and won hundreds of trophies and track records. Most importantly racing is won or lost in the reactions on the track. Same with the team. Life lessons. Our team won hundreds of trophies and set many records because we ALL had the same mission.