Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jeremy Clements: Overcoming the odds


Jeremy Clements is one of many drivers born to race in NASCAR. Grandfather Crawford Clements was a renowned engine builder and was a part of Rex White's 1960 Grand National Championship team. Uncle Louis Clements was a crew chief for White's team during that same time span. Like his grandfather and many of his other family members, racing was Jeremy's only career choice.

"He (grandfather) got me racing go-karts when I was seven and is pretty much the reason I have gotten into this profession," Clements said of his start into racing.

"Racing was always my mindset," said Clements when asked if he thought of other options as a child. "I used to ride go-karts around everywhere, clean the shop and and at 10 I was working on carburetors because my dad and uncle raced. I have always been around it and it has always been where I have wanted to be."

"I remember in elementary school, they would say what do you want to be when you grow up? I would say I wanna be a NASCAR driver, but it is not what I want to be, it is what I am going to be."

Set in his mind at a young age, Clements sought to put a plan into action. Driving late-models and ARCA races (Clements won an ARCA race at Nashville in 2007, while at the same time running a part-time NASCAR schedule) Jeremy has not had an easy path to the present day.

A career threatening injury

Clement's career was almost lost in a horrific accident in July of 2004. Underneath his car, unbeknownst to him, his torque arm broke and sent the steel driveshaft through the cockpit and into his hand.

“It was like a nightmare. But, I’ve got unfinished business. I got knocked off this horse. Now, it’s time to get back on, " Clements said in a 2005 interview with the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

"I had to endure ten surgeries in the span of a year, I had plans to drive fives races in the Busch Series that year, it was definitely a set back for sure."

Astonished by the fact of ten surgeries, Clements explained further. "The doctor said it was like a bomb went off in my hand. It destroyed a lot of bones, tendons, there is a lot of stuff in your hands that makes your fingers work and they had to repair all that, so it took some time."

Overcoming the odds Clements says "every time I strap into the car I thank the good Lord for saving my hand." (At first thought the doctors almost amputated his hand because of the severity of the injury) "It was a tough time, I remember the doctor saying that if they did save my hand, I would never drive competitively again. I thought, 'you guys are wrong and I am going to prove it somehow,' and luckily I did. I do not know how I will ever forget that, the struggles we are going through now being able to race, it is still a blessing just to be able to race."

Overcoming the odds on track as well 

Overcoming the odds could actually be a theme for Clements on the track as well. Driving the No. 51 in a family owned car has not been as easy path for the 26-year old driver.

"It wears you down," Clements said as we talked about the financial aspects to racing. "We just do not have the money from sponsors to make our stuff better, I run a lot of the same stuff and that bites you, you just can't improve your stuff because you do not have the funding to. We'll keep fighting and hopefully get a sponsor to make our program better," Clements said with a note of hope in his voice.

With that in mind, the most intense track for a driver/team, etc. is this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway and Clements shared his thoughts on how his team with deal with the high banks of 'Dega.

"Talladega is a crap shoot, these teams work so hard and when you go down there and only 10 or more finish on the lead lap...Kyle Busch won and his car was pretty messed up. You count on seeing a lot of wrecks and I just hope we can steer clear of them," Clements said. "We are planning on bringing this same car to Daytona in July."

Winner for most interesting nickname: Jeremy "Jug" Clements 

NASCAR nicknames are intriguing, examples range from "Smoke" for Tony Stewart, "Rowdy" as in Kyle Busch and simply 5-time for Jimmie Johnson. Then you have the humorous ones such as "Herminator" for Kenny Wallace, "Cousin Carl," "Flipper" or many choices for Carl Edwards; but Jeremy Clements nickname stands out as the most unique.

Clements explained, "When I was a kid I used to run around the shop and they would cut out milk jugs and put them on my head, call me jug head." The name has stuck through his career as Clements fans affectionately refer to him as Jug. "It is kind of different, funny," Clements said as he chuckled with the Jug references.

Honoring the military with a fan car concept for Memorial Day

The fan car concept is nothing new, fans pledge money to have their name riding shotgun on their favorite drivers car, but Jeremy and the Jeremy Clements Racing team are putting the most unique spin on the cause.

Instead of signing your name on the car the team is asking to put a name of a military member on the car. The names will be displayed on the car in the stripes of an American flag on the decklid and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Marine Air Station at Cherry Point, NC. Four of the Marines from Cherry Point will be joining the team at the race to enjoy the festivities of the Memorial Day weekend race.

How can you help? Head over to the Jeremy Clements store for details and a limited time special. And if you are a fan of the hit TV show Pawn Stars, Rick Harrison is sponsoring Clements that weekend as is also the grand marshal for the race. 

5 comments :

  1. I remember your 2004 accident... a lot of prayers were said for you and we knew you would overcome!! Just look at you now.

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  2. Great article! Explains how hard Jeremy is racing to acheive his dreams despite all odds! Love it!

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  3. As, Amanda knows a bunch of us Carl fans decided to help Jug in anyway we can.We don't have the money to back him but trying to get his name and car # 51 out there so everyone will get to know him.Some of us have joined his fan club.have put names on his Memorial Day
    car etc. Hoping to get him some attention on TV.I might mention,even tho we are avid Carl Edwards fans and strong supporters of Roush drivers .,especially Ricky Stenhouse in NNS. We feel Jeremy is a very worthwhile young man that really needs some help with his family owned Race team. These are my own thoughts and I'm not speaking foR anyone else, Bette Geraud


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  4. One of the best familys around! Great young man! He will get his break one day.

    Bart Greene

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  5. Hes such a sweetheart he deserves the best!

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