At 14, Tyler Clem isn’t yet ready to hit the track with NASCAR in trucks or even the XFINITY series. However, in two or three years some lucky team in one of those series is going to scoop him up faster than a dropped handful of Golds Krugerrands. We sat down and talked with Tyler about his career to date and what his hopes and dreams are for his future.
Clem Competes in Multiple Series
You can see Clem competing around the Southeast on any given weekend in either his Late Model, his Sprint Car or his Modified. Late Model is where he is currently putting most of his focus, and this focus is borne out by the fact that even though he’s competing against drivers five and ten years his senior, he finished second in the Late Model points this year. As an example, he started at the back of the field at a recent race over the Thanksgiving weekend at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida and moved up through the field to finish in second place.
RacingJunk: How long have you been racing?
Tyler Clem: I started racing when I was four years old. My dad put me into go-karts and I loved it. I had my first start on a dirt track when I was nine.
RJ: That first dirt start, what was it in?
TC: That was Quarter Midgets. Now I drive Modified, Late Model and Sprint Cars. Most of my focus is on Late Models, though.
RJ: I notice that you appear to have some pretty good sponsorships. When did that start?
TC: We’ve had some sponsors for years now. However, the “big time” sponsors that really help me compete every weekend started when I got into Late Models.
RJ: Tell us about the cars you drive.
TC: The Late Model and Modified cars are built on Rocket Chassis, while the sprint car frame comes from J&J Sprint Cars. My crew chief Travis does all of the work on them. I do simple stuff like hanging tires and shocks, though.
RJ: How exciting was this year for you? Which class was the most exciting and why?
TC: Oh man, this year was really exciting! I mean, I’m only 14 and I finished second in the points in Late Models. I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting that is for me.
RJ: What are you looking forward to next year?
TC: I can’t wait for Speed Week. Everybody in practically all of motorsports is going to be there. It’s going to be great. I’m also looking forward to improving on my second place points finish from this year.
RJ: Do you have plans to drive in the NASCAR National Series – Trucks, XFINITY, Cup?
TC: Yes. Most definitely. That would be absolutely awesome.
RJ: Where do you see yourself in the next five and ten years?
TC: I hope to be in the NASCAR Cup Series in five years. In ten years I want to be giving Jimmie Johnson a run to match his seven Cup titles.
RJ: If you had you pick, what NASCAR team would you like to drive for?
TC: Any would be great. It really doesn’t matter to me; I just want to compete at that level. But if I had my pick, it would be Stewart Haas Racing. I really like and respect Tony and Mr. Haas.
RJ: What kind of advice do you have for drivers with less experience and who don’t have the credentials you already have?
TC: Focus. If you’re serious about being a professional driver, go for it. Don’t be hesitant or do it halfway. In order to be successful you have to put in the time and effort. You have to be tough both mentally and physically. You’ve got to stay strong when things aren’t going exactly your way.