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Clevenger earns drag license

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Following in the footprints of his dad and older sister, Josh Clevenger is on the fast track to becoming a drag racer. Clevenger?s been racing junior dragsters for years, but late last month the 17-year-old junior-to-be at Oak Ridge High earned his E.T. license (elapse time) in the family?s blown-alcohol dragster, which means he can drive the dragster no faster than 7.5 seconds in the quarter mile. ?It?s the fastest license under the age of 18 that you can get,? said Clevenger?s dad, Curtis, himself a longtime drag racer. ?It allows him to go 7.50 in the quarter mile, which depending on your E.T., is around 180 miles per hour.? Clevenger, naturally, was thrilled to get his license. ?It?s something I?ve wanted to do since I was 8,? Clevenger said. ?I?ve always wanted to race with my dad and go pro maybe. I was excited. I couldn?t believe that I achieved one of my life-long goals.? To earn his license, Clevenger had to make six passes down the track in the car, each a bit faster than the previous pass. ?The first two are real easy passes and the next two are moderate and the last two are full passes,? Curtis explains. ?Josh did an amazing job. It was very smooth and natural to him, I would say even more so than for Makinna.? ?I was a little bit nervous, but overall I was calm,? Clevenger said of his testing day, May 18. ?I was excited more than anything else.? While most of Clevenger?s teammates on the Oak Ridge football and lacrosse teams are doing other things, Clevenger spends a lot of time with his family at the track. His older sister, Makinna, earned her E.T. license three years ago and still races. It?s easy to realize what Clevenger likes about drag racing and that?s the speed. ?I can?t really describe what it?s like to go 180 miles per hour,? Clevenger said. ?The difference between going highway speed and going 180 miles per hour ? it?s a big jump and I can?t fill in the gap.? After holding this license for a year, Clevenger can get his advanced E.T. license, which is his next goal. That license would allow him to drive faster, upwards of 250 miles per hour and finish the quarter-mile run in six seconds. ?He?ll run some events this year and once he gets the advanced license we put the full power back in the car and he can race with Makinna,? Curtis said.