May 14, 2015 at 6:36 am #48185
Came across an article, featuring a 12-year-old to Race Outlaw Late Model.
For the most part, the local track Outlaw Late Model category is for club racers, guys who spend all week in the garage working on their car at night after a full day of work to race each Saturday night. For oval racing, there are a number of options for younger drivers to compete in until they reach 16-years-old. We have seen this become a normal thing in Open Wheel racing, with the many of the junior open wheel categories featuring younger and younger drivers.
What are your opinions on kids under the age of 16-years racing against adults in cars?
Do you think karting should ever lower the age limits in the Senior categories?
David Cole - EKN Managing Editor
May 14, 2015 at 6:58 am #48187
Having a kid under 16 racing adults in cars, I have seen that the kids are better then most adults.
Once they figure out the loading of a sprung suspension and gearbox their years of karting show through.
They should be heavily scrutinized when applying for their comp license but after that their age should not be a factor.
May 14, 2015 at 7:06 am #48188
I recently experienced something like this in a club race, where 3 Leopard classes – Junior, Senior and Shifter were mixed in one run group.
I don’t think there is any problem with younger kids running w older drivers, as long as you can figure out how to equalize performance. And they should be racing as one class. But, I suspect the kids will be faster in many cases, raising objections from the adults!
On the other hand, within the senior class, I’ve seen very different driving and objectives from the younger group of seniors (say 17-25yr olds – out to prove something; very rough; lots of banging and pushing; no sense of mortality) versus the older seniors (out to have fun), which might put the pre-16 drivers (who don’t bang as much as the 17-25 year olds) in a dangerous spot.
At my previous club, we ended up splitting the seniors into 2 groups for this reason – a ‘Mediums’ for everyone, and a ‘Senior’ class for those of us that did not want the banging.
The issue I had with my most recent experience was that they had 3 classes mixed, with 3 different results tables, and the slower drivers were blocking faster racers from another class from passing, making for a dangerous situation, for example when the shifter missed a shift forcing my son to decide to either hit him or go off track (which he did), costing my son the win in his class.
Once people move into ‘cars’ or ‘open wheel’, the consequences of touching are much greater, and the intentional banging that exists in karting goes away – then you can mix young and old, as touching is not acceptable.
May 14, 2015 at 7:25 am #48190
Having raced since the age of 4 (karts until I was 16, cars for the last 30 years, karts and cars now), my view has changed. The biggest issue is not being competitive, as some of the kids are very talented; a bigger problem is when things go wrong. I have witnessed an ‘adult’ smack another competitor on the helmet for a wreck he caused-only to find out it was a 14 year old kid. Personally, I wanted to race with the adults when I grew up and did not understand why I couldn’t- I now see that the playing field is not level. A ‘slide job’ gone bad from a kid to an adult is acceptable, but turn the tables (heaven forbid someone is hurt), we are all in trouble. The adults should not have to worry about the age of a competitor, keep them racing in their own age groups!
May 14, 2015 at 7:46 am #48195
David Cole wrote:
Do you think karting should ever lower the age limits in the Senior categories?
They should be higher….
That may seem befuddling to some. But the age brackets in various karting classes are screwed-up, and do not reflect the different needs and motives of all of the different types of karters, and the reality of the sport today.
Ideally it would be:
Cadet/Mini/Sportsman (or whatever you call it): Age 8/9-12
Junior: Age 13-18, (possibly even 13-21 or something around there)
Senior : Age 18/19+ (or 21+)
Masters: Age 40+
But with one notable change, and before a bunch of Junior-level parents start jumping up and down about the notion of having their kid having to race a junior kart until they’re 18: Have the Junior Classes run Senior-level karts/engines.
13 too young for a senior class kart? We already have 14 year-olds racing full-blown 125 shifters now. Would the difference between 13 and 14 be that much? There are Road Racing Motorcycle classes for racers that age now, and how much HP does an Outlaw Late Model put out as referenced in the story above?
This class-system would be for Sprint karting only, and wouldn’t apply to Road Racing/Enduro; which is an entirely different situation.
May 14, 2015 at 7:46 am #48196
Nothing magic happens at age 16. The age limit is more a statistical rule-of-thumb in that by that time the person is more likely to have a certain degree of discretion, strength, etc. required to race. The margin of error is wide as the proverbial barn door: We’ve all raced against “adults” who behave like children and we’ve all seen 14-year-olds who are better in every way than most of the adults on the track.
If a younger person is exceptional and the race director is satisfied, I have no objections, but it should be on a person-by-person basis.
May 14, 2015 at 9:00 am #48201
Lower the age for Senior categories? NO!!!!
Rapid Racing Inc.
Vintage B-Stock Pilot
"When in doubt Gas it, It won't help but it ends the suspense."
May 14, 2015 at 9:16 am #48205
I will echo the thoughts of Greg and Charles and say NO do not lower the senior age limits and that if anything it should be higher.
I think there should be a mandatory year of 100cc senior racing before you can run TaG Sr. too.
The big issues we’ve had over the past couple years in the TaG class stems mostly from young kids moving up and having the speed to run up front, but none of the common sense or racecraft. Which results in them running everyone over.
Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
May 14, 2015 at 1:09 pm #48226
“The big issues we’ve had over the past couple years in the TaG class stems mostly from young kids moving up and having the speed to run up front, but none of the common sense or racecraft. Which results in them running everyone over.”
I agree with this, but suggest that the age factor is a red herring, as a 40-year-old with speed but no common sense or race craft is just as much an accident waiting to happen as a 14-year-old with the same issues. I’ve raced with 15-year-olds whom I learned to trust implicitly to make the right decisions (and always do so), and 40-year-olds who frankly shouldn’t have been allowed on the track.
The 16-year-old limit is a time honored cutoff and should not be lowered. However, it should not be an absolute bar to younger drivers with clearly-demonstrated skills. Likewise, I tend to agree with TJ that regardless of age, a driver should have to spend at least one year in a lower class (or have some other sort of proven racing background, such as MX, SCCA, Skip Barber school, etc.) before being allowed to race TaG. Most of the craziness I’ve seen has involved newbies jumping into TaG’s or (worse) shifters without any real idea of how to drive (“it’s just a go kart, how hard can this be?”).
May 14, 2015 at 10:26 am #48208
Lower them NO raise them YES
I have a 15 year old that races seniors this year not because I want her to race adults but because of the weight. Yamaha Jr. is 320 Yamaha Sr. is 360lbs were we race and 350lbs in WKA. At 15 she can run junior or senior but We are 330lbs on the scale with no weight and a little fuel. Therefore we can not be competitive in the jr. class and had to move to Seniors in order to stay competitive. I would love to stay in the juniors until 18, at 18 your out of high school and more likely to be considered a adult. If my kid takes out a adult we say sorry we are learning and move on but that adult has to work on Monday and probably races different because of that.
I also agree with Dan’s comment I’ve seen tempers flair and this becomes very touchy when it is a adult interacting with a child. Lets let children be children and add weight to the classes so they can stay in juniors longer and have more people be competitive for a longer period of time. My daughter now races against grown men that are 20lbs over the 360 weight so its not fair to them either.
I also believe that children are more aggressive and take more risks on the track because they can, and they don’t know better yet. An adult who breaks his arm he could be out of work for a while costing money to a child that breaks his/her arm this is a trophy at school were they get to tell the story over and over while all there friends sign there arm.
May 14, 2015 at 10:27 am #48209
My two cents is I think we should get rid of the age limits and focus on the weights. Still have the cadets for 12 and under but for 12 and older it’s full size karts.
For example for 12 and older shifters:
Light Shifter = 325 lbs with engine restriction
Medium Shifter = 385 lbs with no engine restriction
Heavy Shifter = 415 lbs with no engine restriction
In many cases this will lead to the same classes we have today but it lets weight be the determining factor and hopefully encourages those that are frustrated with the sport because of the age/weight issue to come back. I would rather race those at the same weight and I don’t care if I’m getting beat by a kid, girl, senior citizen, or someone who’s name only has two letters, etc. I’m sure this idea has been brought up before but I truly think it has merit as poor “racecraft” has no age limit.
May 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm #48227
I agree Jim, 40 year-olds can be poor drivers too. But being in top-level TaG racing for the past 6 years, I can tell you that in my experience, the majority of brainless moves and dirty driving has been kids who are in over their heads after having just moved up. It isn’t necessarily a case of a kid being a jerk on-track, more so it’s them not having the experience or skill yet to drive all that power you just gave them.
If you’re 40 years old, have been racing a while to know better than to crash people, and have bad racecraft, then you’re just not a good driver. Or you’re a d*ck.
Some kids are d*cks too, but I give them the benefit of the doubt on occasion. If they still are making the same mistakes and running people over after a year, then they truly are just bad drivers or d*cks.
I’m not saying I’m immune to mistakes or aggressive moves, but I know better and when I do make a stupid mistake I try to own up to it or take full credit for it. Or if I wreck you, you probably had it coming and I did you a favor by not letting some bigger a-hole crash you harder than I would have.
Driver/Coach/Wrench : Innovative Performance/Exprit
Owner : Oktane Visual - www.oktanevisual.com
May 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm #48228
Lowering the age limit for senior kart classes would be great, as long as that child has a certain time of race karting experace. Karting it shrinking not growing I think there is a Safeway to include experance under age drivers in senior classes specially at a club level.
But what we should be talking about how can we start kids at a earlier age
I think if the industry would start kids at 5 with special size karts and engines with electronic radio kill switches help get more involved.
May 15, 2015 at 4:22 am #48241
We were at the WKA race at GoPro Motorplex last month racing Yamaha Sr. The front 3 guys were battling it out all weekend cutting each other off and taking each other out. When they came of the track and got to the scale they would start yelling at each other “you took me out” “Wait until next round I will show you” Obviously I cleaned up the language for the sake of this article but this was every single time they came off the track and then they would yell at each other until the officials finally would separate them, and in the middle of all these so called adults is my 15 year old daughter who I told to just stay away from these guys or they will end up taking you out. Point is tempers flair kids yell at kids-ok, adults yell at adults-ok, taking it out on track happens between kids and adults and if one of those grown men ever came after my 15 year old daughter after the race you better believe I will jump in to protect her that’s my job as a father and there we have the problem with adults racing kids. I see it all the time and I shouldn’t have tell my daughter stay away from them I should be telling her go get them and do your best.
May 15, 2015 at 5:34 am #48244
I’m going to have to agree with Greg and TJ on this one…
Why are 16 year old’s racing with “adults”? I definitely think the entire age structure needs to be re-thought in karting. Look at Sportsman for example; 8-12 years old. If you turn 13 at the right time of the year, January 1st, for example, you could be a Freshman in high school, racing against 8 year old 4th or 5th graders?? From a maturity perspective, that simply doesn’t make sense? You wouldn’t see a 5th grader playing football on the freshman high school team.
Cadets: 8-10 (3 years eligibility)
Sportsman: 11-13 (3 years)
Juniors: 14-17 (4 years)
Seniors: 18+ (adults)
And drop the date of birth requirement allowing older kids to stay down a year!! When you turn 11, you move UP! When you turn 14, you move UP!
May 15, 2015 at 5:58 am #48251
Karting isn’t a sport that the size of the person gives them a significant advantage or poses a safety risk like in football.
It seems like TaG Masters always has some sort of drama associated with it at the big races. TaG Senior and S2 shifter also seem to have their fair share of issues. Heck, I’m starting to think that I would rather race kids even if they aren’t as “mature” as the older classes…
I maintain that size should be the differentiator and not the age.
May 15, 2015 at 6:04 am #48254
Love your football analogy I think your absolutely right but I don’t agree with the move them up part. What if there in the running for the points battle? There in 1st place for the season and with 2 races to go in the season bang you have to move up? Now they cant win either the sportsman or junior class for that year.
May 15, 2015 at 8:10 am #48281
“Karting isn’t a sport that the size of the person gives them a significant advantage”
“I maintain that size should be the differentiator and not the age.”
May 15, 2015 at 9:29 am #48286
In reading my comments again I can see the confusion (probably should’ve been more careful using the word “size”). I meant to imply that the size advantage for someone in football is not necessarily an advantage in karting. A 6′ 0″ 150 lb kid playing football against a 5′ 0″ 100 lb kid is likely going to have an advantage or at the very least create a safety concern which should be addressed.
In karting, a 150 lb person will be on the same level as a 100 lb person, provided the weight advantage is evened out so the the 50 lb difference becomes a 0 lb difference. The primary component of winning at that point becomes the skill of the driver. If a person is less skilled they will be at the back of the pack (out of harms way) until they become more skilled. I believe “skill” is not necessarily something I would associate with age and that “weight” should be the differentiator. :)
May 15, 2015 at 1:02 pm #48293
I disagree with the majority of people on this post. Being a 16 year old that races both karts and cars I feel that the senior age is about right, but maybe should have more leniency for younger drivers to move up. If you look at the top drivers in the past few years in TaG and Rotax, very few are older than 18. The two team USA members so far this year are 16, the USPKS champs have been young and even stock moto is much of the same, bar the Factory drivers.
Karting is the stepping stone into the rest of motorsports so it is ridiculous to prevent the drivers who have aspirations to reach top forms of car racing from driving at the senior level. The ages of drivers making it to NASCAR, F1 and Indycar are being lowered significantly, so by keeping a kid in junior you are holding him back from learning more in tougher fields that will prepare him for higher level racing. It would also be a confidence killer for the kids who move up to junior at 12/13 who have to race against guys like Askew and Craig (assuming the age is say 17/18), they would stand no chance. I see the class ladder as a progression where you can find success all through your time karting. The difference between a 13 and 18 is a lot bigger than 18 and 25 maturity wise IMO.
May 15, 2015 at 1:16 pm #48295
Like I said earlier, age limits are a statistical generalization based on the most common situation. There always will be exceptional people that don’t fall within the normal population. Luke is addressing the situation faced by young drivers who are exceptional at a national or even international level. The rules need to have a clause allowing for such exceptions.
On the other hand, once the clause exists, it will only be a matter of time before some overly-ambitous parent yells, cajoles and lobbies enough that his future Lewis Hamilton (not) is allowed to race and trouble ensues. Nothing’s perfect.
May 15, 2015 at 7:33 pm #48304
We run younger kids at the same time as adults in our racing. The deciding factor is their ability on track, dealing with faster karts passing them, and doing the right thing when things go wrong (breakdowns, spins, etc). In fifteen years we’ve been doing this we have had one kid that we asked not to come back until he had more experience. The kids we’ve had start with us at 11-12 years old are usually at least 100 pounds. The weight make a big difference in their ability to handle the kart while driving. It also give them the endurance to last for a race that is at least 15 minutes and a couple of times a year a full hour long.
IMO one of the problems with Rookie, Cadet, and Junior classes is that they are based on age when they should be based on driver size/weight for the younger set. You get a huge variation in the weights of kids between the ages of 5 to 12. They may have the skill needed but if they can’t turn the wheel they are not ready yet.
May 18, 2015 at 9:48 am #48407
I agree a lot with what Patrick is saying here, he knows my son, who is 12, and has raced with him in shifters. Typically at our club the Jr, Sen & Master classes are all running together. In a short time he has developed a lot of respect from many of the senior and master drivers.
HOWEVER, Frankly I recognize and I feel most of you would agree that he is still a novice. The ability to wheel a kart and race it are two entirely different things, both are developed through experience. This is true regardless of age.
Developing driving skills, at any age is about seat time and my son certainly gets a pile of it, this weekend alone, he did 267 laps at our track in three different karts, S5, Tag Jr & and LO 206. In 9 months he has probably made more laps than some of our older drivers make in many, many years.
Developing race craft skills however is a lot harder. Frankly the boy is able to qualify the kart way ahead of where he is able to race it and he and I, and I hope our more mature club members, recognize that. Developing race craft comes from racing and it has to be meaningful racing. Again that holds true for the 12 year old novice AND the 30 year old novice!
The problem gets further compounded when running the different classes together, The juniors may be fast in the in-field and the seniors will be able to drive by them down the straight. Yes we have had a few issues with the boy running up the back of a senior mid corner, “Dad he parked the car on the Apex! ” Apologies then ensue. However when he passes the same senior 2 or 3 times on the infield and the senior then drives by him down the straight each lap, he and I both take that as a declaration that that senior is quite happy to go race him, two corners later he will right back on him trying to get past.
Race craft comes from racing, no where else, and my boy will run multiple classes at local events and will also run regional and National events this year to continue developing those skills. I will as I have always done coach him to avoid contact and would certainly never condone deliberate contact. This should be the goal for all classes and all ages. I frankly believe that if you are racing, regardless of how old you are, or how long you have been doing it, your race craft should be continually developing and improving, isn’t that part of the point in doing it?
From the above discussion I feel that what most people are concerned about is that they feel most junior drivers do not have the experience or maturity to have developed good race craft or good judgement and will cause foolish and unnecessary contact. I disagree that this is an age dependent issue, there are many youngsters that have better judgement than some people twice their age!
In my opinion the issue of poor race craft and unnecessary contact is a race experience and race directing, issue that can bee seen across all age groups in our sport. Where I feel we are falling down is we frequently have contact that we do nothing about, where there is no discussion following the incident with the race director and certainly no explanation to the driver of what he did wrong.
Until we start doing this and perhaps assessing a points or position penalty for causing unnecessary contact then we will continue to have this issue!
I know it takes time during the event but frankly I believe every incident should be discussed between the race director and the drivers involved!
May 18, 2015 at 11:48 am #48419
Ironically, Dave’s son is one of the youths I thought of and asked myself “Would I prefer to not race him because of his age?” and the answer without a doubt is I would rather race him than a number of people with 1000’s of more laps or several times his age. Blair has certainly shown that he has the speed to race with the pack and while he is a novice, I am confident racing him knowing that he’s not going to dramatically change his line, drift down the straight, or try a high-risk passing manuever.
Fortunately I am spoiled by being part of a club where the junior level karters have been extradordinary to be on the track with.
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