Obituary of Clayton Petersen Jr.
Clayton Petersen, Jr., 74, of Scottsdale, AZ, passed away peacefully on June 4, 2023.
Clayton was born the youngest of four children to Clayton Sr. and Hildur Petersen on May 30, 1949, in St. Paul, Nebraska. Clayton found his love for speed and began his racing career at the young age of 14, by competing in motorcycle racing events while attending high school in St. Paul. In the spring before his senior year, Clayton met Kathleen May while at his family’s vacation house on Johnson Lake. The two were united in marriage on November 5, 1966. He was the owner of "Clayton Petersen Incorporated" which was part of the family business distributing bulk fuel and oils across the State of Nebraska. Clayton and Kathleen owned and operated several other businesses throughout the Grand Island area while raising their two children, Clayton III and Lori.
In 1971, at age 21, Clayton returned to his love of racing by converting his streetcar, an Austin-Healy Sprite, into a Class F Production Sports Car and began racing with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). Clayton transitioned into stock car racing when he joined a race team as the driver of the car. This team was very successful while racing at Red Cloud, Lexington, Mid-Continent Raceway, and many other dirt tracks across the country, but the pinnacle of Clayton’s racing career came in February of 1977. Petersen Racing Enterprises entered the NASCAR National Modified Championship, a 200-mile event at Daytona International Speedway. After qualifying 14th, with a speed of 168.90 miles per hour, Clayton ended up finishing third in the race event, a moment he spoke proudly of for many years.
Not only was Clayton a successful race car driver, his company, Petersen Racing Enterprises, was one of the most successful dirt track chassis builders during the late 1970s, producing and selling over 200 Late Model chassis during a five-year period. Clayton retired from the sport following the 1980 season and moved to Arizona where he married Gracie Milligan. The two built a successful insurance business they shared for approximately 15 years before parting ways.
In 2008, Clayton met Marisa Crame in Scottsdale. They enjoyed traveling, watching sports (football, basketball, and of course, NASCAR), and spending time with family, friends, and their beloved chow-chow, Sammi. Clayton’s legacy and love for racing has been memorialized through his induction into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Class of 2015. This was a proud night as he shared this moment with Marisa, his children, and members of his racing team.
Clayton’s sense of humor and spirit will be greatly missed by those who loved and admired him.
Clayton is survived by his significant other, Marisa Crame; his children and their spouses, Clayton and Isabel Petersen III of Mesa, AZ, Lori and Bill Baasch of Doniphan, NE; his grandchildren, Julie Abundis, Lupita Hernandez, Johnny Abundis, Jerome Abundis, Lyndon Petersen, Hannah Baasch-Bates, Brad Baasch; a great grandchild, Emma Petersen; his blended family, Lisa and Jay Bramwell, Christopher Crame, and Melanie Crame; his sister, Marsha Keller of St. Paul, NE; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Clayton is preceded in death by his parents, Clayton Sr. and Hildur Petersen, his sister and brother-in-law, Dorla and Ed Kremlacek; his sister, Janice Graf; and a brother-in-law, Norm Keller.
A Mass will be held for Clayton on Tuesday, June 13th at 10:30 am at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 11300 N. 64th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Interment will follow at Holy Redeemer Catholic Cemetery at 23015 N Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ 85024.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his memory to the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame, an organization Clayton was very proud to be a part of. Please write checks payable to Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame and mail to c/o Lori Baasch, 1 Sonja Drive, Doniphan, NE 68832. They will be consolidated, and hand delivered to Tony Glen, the President of the organization.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Clayton Petersen Jr., please visit Tribute Store