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Tyler Clem Leaves Racers Twice His Age in the Dust in 2016 Dirtcar Nationals

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Tyler Clem races in the 2016 Dirtcar Nationals

Tyler Clem races in the 2016 Dirtcar Nationals, at Voulisa Speedway Park, in Deleon Springs, Florida.

You could say that 13-year-old Tyler Clem, of St. Petersburg, Florida, comes by his racing skills naturally. He’s grown up at race tracks watching his dad, Bubba Clem, race dirt cars, sprint cars, and late models. “It was really cool. That’s why I got into racing,” he said.

The damage to Tyler Clem’s car is a testimonial to the fact that racing sprint cars is for the big boys.

The damage to Tyler Clem’s car is a testimonial to the fact that racing sprint cars is for the big boys.

Racing since he was 4 years old, Tyler competes in five divisions –- Late Model, Limited Late Model, 410 and 360 Winged Sprint Car, and Midget Sprint Cars.

He has been racing dirt cars for four years and racing in general for eight. His first experience in the sport was racing a quarter midget sprint car that his father bought him.

“It was a miniature sprint car with no wings. I ran on asphalt and won two races my first year,” he said.

The most powerful class he has raced is dirt late models. “They’re like a stock car with engines that produce 600-horsepower. They’re real fun cars to race,” he said.

Here’s a great example of how aggressive 13-year-old Tyler Clem is. He races against pros who are two to three times older than he is.

Here’s a great example of how aggressive 13-year-old Tyler Clem is. He races against pros who are two to three times older than he is.

He turned pro when he started racing dirt cars about four years ago.

The first few years of competing were spent getting comfortable at local tracks in Florida.  He still races Florida tracks including Bubba Raceway Park, in Ocala, Florida, and also competes in events in Alabama and Georgia.

Tyler Clem making the wide turn in his #14 Late Model racecar.

Tyler Clem making the wide turn in his #14 Late Model racecar.

He says that his greatest victory to date was his first dirt track win at Bubba Raceway Park when he was 11 years old.  “The competition was mostly in their 30s and 40s,” he said.

He has also raced at the Talladega short track, in Eastaboga, Alabama, during NASCAR weekend in May of last year. That race was billed as a Race for the Ages. The oldest driver in the contest was 82-year-old legend Red Farmer and the youngest was Tyler, who was 12. A total of 58 drivers participated. He challenged for the lead for most of the race, but ultimately finished fourth.

So far in 2016 he has participated in three NeSmith Winter events, three Sunshine State Modified Tour contests, two 410 Winged Sprints, six Dirtcar events, one Limited Late Model, two World of Outlaws, and five unsanctioned events.  His best finishes were fourth in NeSmith, fourth in SSMT, fifth in Dirtcar, and eighth in WoO. He’s come on strong in the Unsanctioned division that started in March with a first place finish on April 30, a second place on May 21, a third place on May 14 and a fifth place finish on April 9. The season ends in November.

Tyler races for Clem Racing, Inc, which his father started. The team also includes his father and Travis Nicholls, who maintains his engines.

The K&N logo is prominent with logos of other Tyler Clem sponsors on his #14 car.

The K&N logo is prominent with logos of other Tyler Clem sponsors on his #14 car.

An eighth grader in middle school, Tyler races on the weekend and works on his car during the week.  His week begins with a return from a race on Sunday, washing the car on Monday, and checking out the car during the week. That includes making certain that the nuts and bolts are tight, that there are no fuel leaks, and that the car is running right. By Thursday he is cleaning up and loading the trailer. He heads off to his next race on Friday or Saturday.

K&N Engineering has been sponsoring Tyler since he was 5 years old. “They’ve been awesome,” he said.

Tyler Clem’s midget sprint appears to be moving sideways as it takes on the dirt track.

Tyler Clem’s midget sprint appears to be moving sideways as it takes on the dirt track.

Racing for only eight years, he has a total of 41 sponsors including Vahlco Wheels, Hedman Hedders, Rocket Chassis, Sunoco, Keyser Manufacturing, Whelen, Ferrea Racing Components, Elder Ford of Tampa, Leaf Race Wear, Zero Error Racing, Winters Performance Products, Bell, Impact, Dan Olson Racing Products, Racing Optics, Redline, dB Plugs, Toyo Tires, Durst Motorsports, NGK Spark Plugs, and Braille Batteries.

His total career to date includes 12 wins in dirt, 6 track championships in Florida in the Midget Division, and two wins in Late Models.

He expects to continue racing midget cars in 2017. His goal is to race NASCAR within four to five years or continuing to compete in dirt races “for the rest of my life,” he concluded.


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