Elisa Coon
April 24, 2014
Photos By: Evan J. Smith

Drag racing is a male-dominated sport, but more females have made their mark doing the quarter-mile dance than in any other form of motorsports.

It’s no shock when a young all-American girl comes along and shows the guys how it’s done, but it’s always exciting to see a lady mix it up in NMRA or any other action.

Since her entrance into the NMRA scene in 2012, Valerie Clements, a South Carolina native, has been a force since she landed herself behind the wheel of a Renegade Mustang. Not only does she race (and win) in her SCT-sponsored ride—this 2012 NMRA Rookie of the Year is a full-time Clemson University engineering student to boot. That’s right; she’s more than just a pretty face with 116 octane running through her veins.

Valerie began her 10-year career racing Junior Dragsters at the young age of eight with her crew chief and dad, Alton Clements, by her side. This little lady was bred to love the rush of ripping down the quarter-mile, but high 7s in the eighth-mile in a junior dragster is a far cry from the serious power and pressure of the Renegade class.

The years of racing as a child sparked a deep passion that would turn into something that neither Valerie, nor her family, could have anticipated. When an opportunity arose to purchase a race-ready Team Z-built rolling 2005 Mustang chassis from a veteran racer, the Clements family jumped on it—only then did the wrenches started turning on what is now one of the sharpest-looking and fastest Mustangs to grace the Renegade circuit.

After acquiring the perfect chassis, it came down to putting together a winning combination with a built engine and transmission that are up for the task of 8-second e.t.’s. With the help of her brother, Alton Clements Jr., her dad, and the crew, they conjured up a unique engine combo that would prove itself a success all the way to the winner’s circle.

The crew summoned respected modular engine builder Tim Matherly of MV Performance in Winder, Georgia, for the best Four-Valve Terminator engine build available.

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Previously a small 281 cubes, they stroked it to 310 cubic inches with 9.5:1 compression and loaded it with the best power-loving components available. Custom headers built by Fast Forward Race Cars breathe life into this champ of an S197 Stang, and provide the undeniable jaw-chattering growl that can only come from a modular engine of this magnitude. Inside you’ll find Comp Cams custom roller cams, Manley rods—and aren’t diamonds a girl’s best friend? Why naturally, Diamond pistons, that is! It takes more than a shiny rock to get the attention of this racer chick.

The power adder of choice is boost—and lots of it—from a massive Vortech YSi air-to-air intercooled supercharger yielding a stout 26 psi. Valerie chose a Turbo 400 transmission for longevity and consistency, and it’s clear that the combination is working like a well-oiled machine. Keeping it all in the family, Valerie’s brother tuned the standalone Big Stuff 3 fuel system, which is fed by Weldon pumps. In addition to tuning his sister’s Pony, Alton, Jr. races his own super-quick Fox-body at some NMRA and NMCA events. No sibling rivalry there! Valerie will be the first to say that she couldn’t do it without the help and knowledge of her brother.

In the Renegade class, suspension can make or break you and the Clements crew didn’t skimp on anything. Underneath this Stallion is a Ford 9-inch rear end, Strange axles, Afco rear shocks, AJE and Team Z control arms, and Koni shocks and struts up front. Wilwood brakes give Valerie the stopping power needed when wheeling a freight train like this down from speed.

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For traction, Mickey Thompson tires sit where the rubber meets the road. And are you ready for this? Her best elapsed time is a strong 8.36 at 163 mph with an astounding 1.21 60-foot. That takes major gusto and it’s no wonder she’s running with the big dogs.

She still maintains a humble spirit and reverence for her pavement-scorching Renegade powerplant, especially after her losing control resulted in a brush with the wall last season. Valerie told us, “Honestly, I’m still a little nervous after all this time. I have respect for the car for sure and you don’t want to be too confident.” When asked what she was most proud of when considering the whole Renegade racing experience as a whole, she was most proud of her team and gave them the credit for the work put in while she is busy with her school obligations.

“I would like to thank my dad and my brother for all of the time and hard work they put into the car as well as my mom, Janet, for her support and work. They are the ‘power house’ that keeps the car running awesome every race. Other crew guys include Brent Weston, Bill Gillen and Devin DeAngelis,” Valerie explained.

In 2013, she took her first Renegade win against some fierce competitors (technically at the Atlanta event). Though the event was rained delayed, it was continued at the next event in Maryland. The sweetest part of the story is that she was actually racing on 7 cylinders, and still ended up in the winner’s circle.

The 2014 season brings some exciting changes Valerie’s way, as she takes on a new sponsor—Watson Racing near Detroit, Michigan, better known for its part in building the Cobra Jet and other race Mustangs. Watson is providing the Clements’ team with a new ’14 Mustang chassis ready for a new look and winning season with Valerie in the driver’s seat. Girls can race and win, and Valerie has the recipe of a winner—we can’t wait to see what the 2014 season brings her way.