Tyler Clem kicked off 2023 by putting his name on the map with a statement win at the Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout at Volusia Speedway Park in January.
Six months later, the St. Petersburg, FL native received the opportunity of a lifetime driving the Ocala, FL #58 Big Frog Motorsports Super Late Model in the 38th DIRTcar Summer Nationals.
Already experienced in Sprint Cars and Modifieds, Clem now gets to try his hand at piloting a Super Late Model in the famed Hell Tour for the first time.
“Well… we’ve decided it would be best to get as much seat time as possible,” Clem said. “I’ve only had 10 or 15 (Super Late Model) races under my belt, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to go out every night and get some laps in, trying to get as much experience as I can.”
The 2023 version of the Hell Tour consists of 28 races in 33 days. Week one of the five-week journey started Wednesday at Peoria Speedway and continues Thursday (June 15) at Kankakee County Speedway, Friday (June 16) at Tri-City Speedway, Saturday (June 17) at Fairbury Speedway and Sunday (June 18) at Sycamore Speedway.
Full Summer Nationals Schedule: CLICK HERE
Most of the tracks on the tour will bare no resemblance to the Florida tracks Clem cut his teeth on, adding another element to his new adventure he’ll have to adapt to.
“It’s definitely way different than what we have down in Florida,” Clem said. “A lot of the bullrings I’m gonna have to adjust to that because I’ve never been on tracks like (the ones I’m racing at), so I’ll be elbows up on the cushion and the wall. So, I gotta get used to that part of it. I think we’ve shown speed (at Eldora), so I think we gotta keep it going and hopefully we do well on that.”
Clem made his debut at the DIRTcar’s Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway this month in the Big Frog #58. He showed signs of progress, making the preliminary Feature races on Thursday and Friday, and finishing 19th in both races. His night was cut short on Saturday due to being involved in an accident.
Despite that, Clem said he felt Eldora was a big help in figuring out how to drive the Super Late Model prior to the Summer Nationals kickoff.
“More just driving style (will be a help),” Clem said. “Technique and learning how to handle the car because you have to be on it all the time. You gotta drive it in so hard and stuff like that to keep in the back of my mind because I don’t have a lot of experience with these Supers just yet. Driving style, stuff like that to keep in mind (for Summer Nationals).”
With the Summer Nationals being a grueling schedule of races for five straight weeks, Clem is planning to take each week one race at a time, hoping to score a win along the way and possibly one of the weekly championships.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Clem said. “The longest (consistent series of races) I’ve done is four or five nights of Florida Speedweeks. I’ve got a good team behind me that is confident in our cars, and we’ll have to take it one lap at a time. Qualifying, Heat Races, Features, just doing what we can and we’re out here trying to learn so that’s the biggest thing.”
You can see Clem compete in every event on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour and return to 360 Sprint Car racing at Volusia Speedway Park during the Battle in Barberville, Dec. 1-2, and the Southern Sprint Car Shootout, Jan. 25-27, 2024.
If you can’t make it to the tracks, you can watch every race on the Hell Tour and weekly racing from Volusia Speedway Park live on DIRTVision.