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Racing a way of life for Norway’s Clifford

Norway Speedway

Norway Speedway

Racing a way of life for Norway’s Clifford

Norway Speedway

By: Matt “Sweets” McCarthy /Oval Track News

Racing is a sport that can be a hobby for some people and a job for others.

For 18-year-old Cameron Clifford of Norway, racing has been a part of his life since he could walk.

“From day one, I have been around and interested in racing,” said Clifford, the son of Michelle and Eric Forstrom and Mike Clifford, all of Norway.

Last season, Cameron, stepdad Eric and their dedicated crew members competed in a series called the Wisconsin TUNDRA Super Late Model Series. He finished 17th in points out of approximately 35 full-time drivers, with their best finish being 12th at Wausau on Aug. 3.

The series took place at various tracks across Wisconsin, including Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Marshfield Motor Speedway, Wisconsin Dells Raceway Park, State Park Speedway in Wausau and Golden Sands Speedway in Plover.

“Last year (2019) was a learning experience for us,” said car owner and crew chief Forstrom. “It helped us find out what we were both good and bad at. We made all the shows and finished all of them except one.”

The team also raced Hall of Fame induction night at Norway Speedway, and one additional regular night of racing at both Plover and Wisconsin Dells.

Cameron, a Norway High School senior, was one of a handful of drivers who were in their teens or very early 20s racing in the TUNDRA series last season. With the experience behind the steering wheel that Cameron has had dating back to go-kart racing, the jump to late model racing was made a few seasons ago.

A full time go-kart racer from the age of 7, Cameron at 10 years old won a track championship locally at the Aurora, Wis., track. Two years later, he had a very successful afternoon at the Badger Kart Club in Dousman, Wis., which is near Madison.

On that afternoon, he “clean swept” an event in the Midwest Sprint Series.

A clean sweep is when a driver sets the fast time in qualifying, and wins both the heat(s) and main feature.

Kart racing took Cameron, Michelle and Eric to places like New Castle and South Bend, Indiana, Camden, Ohio, and to a World Karting Association event in Jacksonville, Florida.

It was in Florida as a 10-year-old where Cameron won a WKA race, a place he recalls being told, “You guys don’t belong down here, you’ve never raced anywhere like it is here.” He also recalls being scoffed at Dousman the day prior to completing his aforementioned clean sweep.

“There’s been lots of ups and downs over the years,” Michelle said. “Butting of heads between all three of us. But it’s all part of it I guess.”

Among the people who’ve inspired his love for the sport are his grandfathers, his dad and stepdad, uncles Doug Clifford and Mike Kelly, and cousins Toby and Kris Kelly.

Tim Schultz Jr. a first cousin of Cameron’s stepdad Eric, put a 13-year-old Cameron in his sportsman car late in the season at Norway, giving the young racer his first taste of circle track racing in a stock car.

In 2016, Cameron’s late model career began, earning the Dickinson County Racing Association’s Late Model division Rookie of the Year award at Norway Speedway. In 2017 and 2018 he was named the DCRA Most Improved Driver of the Late Model division.

Family members and good friends continue with the crew, not only on race day weekends, but in the shop working on the car and getting things ready to go.

Mike and Toby Kelly give valued advice at nearly every track. Kris Kelly, Cameron’s godfather, offers pointers from years of racing experience.

“They’ve raced at almost all of the tracks we did last season,” said Cameron. “They just know what to do and what we need to do. With them and everyone else on the crew it’s a total team effort.” The team’s garage turned race shop is, just inside the city limits, on the south end of Norway.

The team’s crew members are Tom Kelly, youngest brother of Mike, and his son Bryce. Mike Falk and his son Michael. Cameron’s slightly older cousin Adam Faull helps out as much as he can when he’s not racing himself, competing at Norway.

Another cousin, Rob Faull, is the race team’s social media guru, updating the Cameron Clifford No. 18 Facebook page. Rob’s sidekick Dane DeRidder has also helped the team. Cameron points to Nathan Normand who is also a valuable asset, with technical knowledge.

Sponsors include BKP Logging of Hermansville, Superior Specialized Carriers, Club 54, Keith Burcar Trucking, Thirsty Whale and Stop Light Fish Fry, all of Norway; Pit Stop Bar and Pit Stop Gas of Niagara, Wis.; and Chris Weber Excavation of Niagara; Patti’s Platter of Beecher, Wis.; and J&J Insulation and PM Surveying, both of Vulcan.

For 2020, the team hopes to run some of or all of the Tundra Series and potentially other tracks.

The No. 18 car is currently below the Mason Dixon line in North Carolina getting fixed, after a bad wreck at Dells Raceway Park in October. Stay tuned for what’s to come for this team. It could be exciting things.