License to drive fast

Clevenger earns advanced E.T. license
By: Matt Long
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Makinna Clevenger took a step closer to achieving her goal of being a professional drag racer by earning her advanced elapsed time license on Sept. 12. The 17-year-old Oak Ridge High senior cheerleader earned her license at Sacramento Raceway Park. The license allows her to make passes on the quarter-mile track as fast as six seconds. To earn the license, Clevenger had to make three passes down the track faster than 7.5 seconds. Her fastest speed on the day was just over 200 miles-per-hour. So what’s it like to go 200 miles-per-hour? “Everything’s a blur,” Clevenger said. “I can only see the nose of the car and that’s it. Everything in my peripheral vision is a blur. It’s really cool to go that fast. I can’t really describe it other than saying that.” Clevenger has been racing dragster since she was 10, methodically making her way up the ranks. According to Clevenger’s mom, Melanie, she’s one of the youngest to earn her advanced E.T. license. The next step for Clevenger is to earn her top alcohol license, which Melanie estimates would take about a year. Between now and then, Melanie said, her daughter will continue to practice while gradually increasing her speed. After she earns her top alcohol license only one more license remains and that’s the professional top fuel license, which is what she’s working toward. “That’s definitely my goal,” Clevenger said. “Every time I get in the car it gets a little easier. The nerves are always in the back of my mind, because you never want to be too comfortable in a car going that fast because of what could happen.” Clevenger spent last weekend at Infineon Raceway, making practice runs during the filming of Pinks All-Out, a show that’s produced for the Speed Channel that will be broadcast on Nov. 18. Her next competition is at the end of the month, as she’ll represent Sacramento Raceway Park at the Division 7 High School Championships, which will be held at the park. She’ll be competing against the top high school drag racers, male and female, from California, Nevada and Arizona. Earlier this month Clevenger earned a spot in the event by winning the local high school championship at the track.