This is the damage sprint car driven by Tyler Clem incurred last Thursday after hitting the wall nearly head-on. Fortunately, Clem walked away. The crash occurred coming off turn four during a heat race for the United Sprint Car Series (USCS) at Volusia Speedway Park in De Leon Springs, Florida.
“I had no injury at all-just a little bit of a sore neck,” said Clem, of Tampa, Florida, said. “I jumped into the backup car, the No. 6, and tried to qualify for the feature.”
Clem sat in a ButlerBuilt seat, with a Hooker Harness restraint system. He wore a Bell RS7 helmet paired with a HANS device.
“This wreck was the hardest hit I’ve experienced in my race career,” Clem said. “My car wheel-hopped the right rear of the guy in front of me, launched me up into the air, and when the car set down, I went straight into the wall.”
Clem credited the chassis that his car owner Robbie Smith used as to keeping him safe. It came from J&J Auto Racing.
“When we stripped the car down, there was not a single broken weld,” said Clem. “The chassis did what it was meant to do — it absorbed the impact and kept me safe.”
Bonnie Elam, of J&J Auto Racing, explained the company’s philosophy in constructing sprint cars.
“We do everything in our power to build a safe chassis,” Elam said. “The right material, proper welding are key. We only use domestic [4130 steel] tubing. We have one welder who has been here 37 years and the others have 20 years of experience.”
Thanks to his chassis, Tyler Clem will continue racing in Florida. He’ll look to return to 360 sprint car racing at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida, on February 14.
(For more on East Bay, read “East Bay Raceway Park: The Story Behind its Final Season.”)
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.