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Derrick McGrew Jr. 12 years old running BB weekly at Albany-Saratoga

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DIRT Modifieds are pretty safe, so I think the safety issue is less concerning. And from all accounts, it sounds like this young man has a good head on his shoulders. I do think tracks should implement a rule where children under 18 are not allowed to compete unless given a waiver by the track -- it allows you to keep the kids not ready out of things. (Of course, I can't imagine a track turning away a new car, but at least they should have the right to regulate).

But that doesn't mean that I think in general that people under 18 should be allowed to go racing -- big issue is with insurance. If he does get hurt, the track is on the hook because once he turns 18 he can sue the hell out of them regardless of what waivers he signed.

Most child athletes are competing against children their own age, not full fledged adults. Most sports that allow children to compete against adults are non-contact, like golf, etc. so there's very little risk of another competitor causing the injury.

One issue I haven't seen brought up is when the driver is under 18 and not mature enough to handle it. I remember a few years ago there was a driver at one of my local tracks who was pretty successful in his division ... but he was very immature. He would take out other cars, try to instigate fights with his chief rival in the class knowing that his rival, being over 18, couldn't touch him. He wrecked him several times and got away with it.

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Just my opinion ... It appears his father has the confidence in his son to step up to the Modified ranks. It also appears his father has enough experience in racing to make that decision. The kid can’t buy a pack of cigarettes until he’s 21 years old. Let him at least enjoy life behind the wheel of a race car. I think it’s a good move.

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Well after a little research its laughable that hes moving up. At Albany he appeared to be there every week with a finish of 18th in points with a grand total of 2 top 5's and zero wins. Not sure what people are basing all his 'talent' on. We call this more money than brains. No way in hell he should be moving up.

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1 hour ago, macho said:

I dont have a dog in this fight but in my opinion I'm totally against this. I'm not worried as much about anyone's safety but more that I see racers (adult racers) who dont belong in a certain class and just screw up the racing week after week. What's the rush to get him in a BB? Unless someone thinks hes going to Nascar someday. Out of curiosity how did he fare in sportsman? Was he dominant? Average? 

Average. The thing is he’s only 12. So even if it takes him 4 years to win he just won a modified race at 16 and would suddenly be the next big thing. So although he wasn’t great in sportsman it’s a smart move in that aspect 

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I'm having a hard time thinking of a major sport that has never had a child accidentally killed ... but never minding that ... Why is the focus on death and childhood? Is an adult's life worth less than a child's?

If you think the answer is 'yes", then maybe you can explain something to me.

A person turned 18 years old yesterday,  an eagle scout, a straight A student, involved in community activities, and so on .... ... ... He's with his friend who turns 18 tomorrow, was at the bottom of his class, molested a classmate, has been arrested 6 times, and will steal the teeth out of your head ... ... They get into an accident and both are killed. ... ...

How Is the 17 year old kid a greater loss than the 18 year old adult?

How exactly does that work?

It's definitely one of my peeves with American society and culture. we've let the news channels brainwash people to believe that a child's life is worth more than an adults. It's not just absurd ... it's sick.

.... Anyway ... ... little McGrew has proven that he can wheel a car and that he can carry himself in a more mature manner than many of the guys he'll be racing against. And his chances of getting hurt are the same as any other driver in any other class. 

... ... some of you need a more realistic reason for your opposition.

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1 hour ago, GasketCase said:

I'm having a hard time thinking of a major sport that has never had a child accidentally killed ... but never minding that ... Why is the focus on death and childhood? Is an adult's life worth less than a child's?

If you think the answer is 'yes", then maybe you can explain something to me.

A person turned 18 years old yesterday,  an eagle scout, a straight A student, involved in community activities, and so on .... ... ... He's with his friend who turns 18 tomorrow, was at the bottom of his class, molested a classmate, has been arrested 6 times, and will steal the teeth out of your head ... ... They get into an accident and both are killed. ... ...

How Is the 17 year old kid a greater loss than the 18 year old adult?

How exactly does that work?

It's definitely one of my peeves with American society and culture. we've let the news channels brainwash people to believe that a child's life is worth more than an adults. It's not just absurd ... it's sick.

.... Anyway ... ... little McGrew has proven that he can wheel a car and that he can carry himself in a more mature manner than many of the guys he'll be racing against. And his chances of getting hurt are the same as any other driver in any other class. 

... ... some of you need a more realistic reason for your opposition.

I dont think its about the importance of a child or adults death. I assume people think a death may be a little more likely and could be prevented if a 12 year old isnt racing in a class over his head.

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Safety and death are just dumbass excuses on why someone shouldn’t compete....the cars are safe and when tragedy does strike it’s under some crazy circumstance. Those can happen at any age. The bottom line is he has not gotten competitive in a sportsman, now he’s moving to a car that takes far more experience and skill to be competitive in. The big blocks are harder to drive, harder to steer, harder to stop And the competition is more talented. Racing is not much fun when your a backmarker and I think that’s where he will find himself for quite some time. For his sake hopefully he adapts quickly, and the move works out. 

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Setting the age debate aside...……. how many past and present bb mod drivers started racing in that division with no previous racing experience at all. I'm sure some on here can name a few. While they may have been 16 or 18 yrs old, they got into an injected big cube modified and learned how to do it. Brightbill and "Slideways" come to mind.

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The issue of a child racing is because they are a child and are not considered (legally) to be developed enough to know the risks they are taking and to understand and take responsibility for their actions. Now, I don't agree fully with that standard -- some teens are very mature and I've seen a lot of grown men around race tracks throw temper tantrums that would make my 4-year-old proud. But society as a whole has the belief that people under 18 have limited rights and their parents are in charge because they are not fully mature yet.

Now, I hope he goes in with the attitude of  "this year is about learning the ropes." First goal, don't get in the way, run clean, keep your nose clean, get seat time and learn how to handle the car. If he does that, he'll improve throughout the first season or two ... drivers with that level of maturity can do very well with a couple of years experience.

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1 hour ago, Bob Krummel said:

Setting the age debate aside...……. how many past and present bb mod drivers started racing in that division with no previous racing experience at all. I'm sure some on here can name a few. While they may have been 16 or 18 yrs old, they got into an injected big cube modified and learned how to do it. Brightbill and "Slideways" come to mind.

There is a gigantic difference between being 16 and being 12. A 16-year-old can legally drive on the street.

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9 minutes ago, FightForTheRail said:

There is a gigantic difference between being 16 and being 12. A 16-year-old can legally drive on the street.

I'm of the opinion that while a race car and a street car both have a steering wheel, brake pedal, and gas pedal...…… how you operate them on the street and on the race track are two different things. A person with no street driving experience could learn how to drive a race car. Happens all the time with kids in Karts or 1/4 Midgets and other small car racing.

The advent of power steering in race cars and much better safety equipment (seating being one), opened the door for younger and smaller kids to compete. Having parents that want to make their kids the next rising star does not help matters either.

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1 hour ago, FightForTheRail said:

There is a gigantic difference between being 16 and being 12. A 16-year-old can legally drive on the street.

Well see what everyone's opinion is when the "big one " happens. Mine will not change , he's too young /mature "mentally" to be in a big block. And I realize he's 14, but still. 

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11 hours ago, macho said:

Well after a little research its laughable that hes moving up. At Albany he appeared to be there every week with a finish of 18th in points with a grand total of 2 top 5's and zero wins. Not sure what people are basing all his 'talent' on. We call this more money than brains. No way in hell he should be moving up.

Forget the age thing for a second. How the heck does anyone regard this as a springboard to the next level of racing? Although, as noted, I don’t agree with a 12 year old racing at this level, I guess I could kinda understand it if they had some exceptional results in a lower class. But this is not the case. In any event I don’t think the BB class can afford to turn anyone away. And honestly, some parents are crazy so all this leads me to believe that it’s a 12 year old this year and sometime in the not too distant future it will be a 10 year old.

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9 hours ago, macho said:

I dont think its about the importance of a child or adults death. I assume people think a death may be a little more likely and could be prevented if a 12 year old isnt racing in a class over his head.

Which I don't disagree with. However ... his age has nothing to do with that. I've seen great full-fendered drivers  get in an open wheel and be a menace on the track. I've seen guys debut in a modified and run decently. (Drellos comes to mind from recent history). I've seen them fail and I've seen them succeed. I just don't recall age ever being a common denominator to either success or failure.

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I dont care what age anyone is with those results in sportsman......you have no business moving up to big block. Hes surely gonna create alot of havoc for guys this year and theres no need for it. Race sportsman ......where he belongs. Novice sportsman that is.

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7 hours ago, GasketCase said:

 I've seen great full-fendered drivers  get in an open wheel and be a menace on the track. 

Ricky Stenhouse  and Sam Hornish have proven the opposite can be true as well.

I was going to add Danica Patrick to this list, but then I remembered that she was never great in open wheel. She just got lucky ... once.

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Any time I read these stories about younger kids getting into full size cars, I can't seem to understand the rush to get them up a class. This same conversation went on a year or 2 ago with another driver. The explanation was that driver was tearing it up in the smaller cars so he wasn't going to learn anything new so it was time to move him up. I think that driver is still racing sportsman. I just don't understand what happened to patience, he's only 12. There is plenty of time for him to get "noticed" which is one of the reasons Derrick Sr gave for allowing Jr to move up this soon. He said that when he was racing he may have gotten overlooked because he stayed in sportsman. Yeah, you were 30+, your son is 12. There is time. 

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My initial response was that this is foolish. But you guys convinced me that it is actually a smart move in the long run. 

You have all said that the jump from sportsman to modified is a huge leap. They have to learn how to drive again with all that power. So if you have the financial resources to do it,  why not learn to drive the car  that you are going to be driving. 

I would think it would be more frustrating to spend years becoming a star in the sportsman class. To then become a back marker in a modified world cause you to overdrive and become a bigger menace. 

If they are running a track with a lot of sportsmen and may not get to make every feature,  you lose track time. 

And,  I have heard a rumor that being a back marker in a modified race pays better than being a back marker in a sportsman race. 

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On 1/18/2020 at 8:23 AM, JohnyC said:

And Bob, this isn’t tennis or golf. Operating a race car at 11 or 12 years of age is a not remotely comparable to ball sports. 

Correct, because kids die every year all across the country in high school stick and ball sports from brain and cardio issues. WAY more than what die in racing accidents. 

A huge back and forth argument on social media right now is whether or not iRacing improves driving skills in the real world of racing. Those that don't race on computers say the claim is absurd. Those who do participate say it sharpens driving skills, and there are some professional drivers who vehemently defend it. Someone even recorded Rico Abreu driving a video game Sprint Car and his concentration level was intense.

And that translates into today because a 12 year old probably is an iRacing addict.

All I am trying to point out here is that in the entire world of different breeds of race cars, a northeast style dirt modified might possibly be the safest form of racing on the planet. In fact, I can't even remember the last time someone was killed as a result of collision/impact. This isn't 410 Sprint Car racing where we lose our most seasoned veterans and super heroes just about every year.

And I get to witness some of this first hand with Alex Payne. I think Alex just turned 14, but he's been driving Sportsman for 2 years now. Dundee let him run at 12 and DIRTcar gave him a special license last year because he CAN drive. The kid is smooth, he's wicked fast and he's run his dad's big block a couple of times. He's still looking for his first big win and he will get it this year, I can feel it. I've told him that his level of aggression has been his nemesis. He runs for all he's worth to the front of the pack, but he's not always looking at every situation with both eyes open. Some times you have to check up a little to let a couple of mid packers sort themselves out. If not, you put yourself in the mess they are about to create and Alex has done this a few times when he was the fastest car on the track. 

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I'm not really for or against this situation, but having raced against young  kids I can guarantee you that it does create a certain level of "percieved" problem most of the time.  When I ran mini sprints we had kids as young as 12, and I'm fairly sure a couple of them were 11.9 years old if you get my drift.  Some of them raced in a way that you'd never guess their age, and some raced like they had no concept of the value of money - which they don't.  One kid crashed a ton of cars out one night and when his dad was confronted (because you can't really confront a 12 year old kid) the excuse was "he's just a kid".  No.  He's a racer on equal terms with everyone else if you're going to put him out there, and you have to accept what he gets.  As long as this kid's family is ready to hold him equally accountable for his actions as any other adult would be, let him at it.  

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53 minutes ago, luke81 said:

I'm not really for or against this situation, but having raced against young  kids I can guarantee you that it does create a certain level of "percieved" problem most of the time.  When I ran mini sprints we had kids as young as 12, and I'm fairly sure a couple of them were 11.9 years old if you get my drift.  Some of them raced in a way that you'd never guess their age, and some raced like they had no concept of the value of money - which they don't.  One kid crashed a ton of cars out one night and when his dad was confronted (because you can't really confront a 12 year old kid) the excuse was "he's just a kid".  No.  He's a racer on equal terms with everyone else if you're going to put him out there, and you have to accept what he gets.  As long as this kid's family is ready to hold him equally accountable for his actions as any other adult would be, let him at it.  

That’s a good point. If he’s old enough to race then he is old enough to be accountable for his actions. So long as everyone knows that going in it should be fine 

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I think iRacing can certainly improve your driving skills ... but it's a lot easier to hang it all out there when, if things go wrong, the biggest consequence is a flashing "game over." And it has always seemed to me that so much of racing is feeling in the seat what the car is doing, which iRacing does not replicate.

A huge part of what makes a great racer is feeling what the car is doing and the courage to push it when you know that if you screw up, it could really, really hurt.

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1 hour ago, JohnyC said:

That’s a good point. If he’s old enough to race then he is old enough to be accountable for his actions. So long as everyone knows that going in it should be fine 

That's all other racers can ask, an even standard.  And also the PARENTS need to understand that their little kid is now going to be held to a level standard with adults and they have to be able to mentally handle that.  Someone might flip your kid the bird, tell him he's a D#%khead, bang his bumper or feed him a wheel because those are all things that actually happen in racing.  If a parent is going to hand the kid the responsibility to drive a race car, the kid also needs to have the responsibility to handle his racing situations without mommy and daddy doing it for him.  Watching your child crash or get crashed is something you have to be able to handle without losing your mind.  I've seen parents run out on to a still-live racetrack and I've seen parents physically attack an adult driver who they feel just crashed their kid.

I started racing 358's when I was 16.  In my opinion now at 38 I was not mature enough to have done that.  I made moves that maybe weren't the smartest thing to do, because I had the typical teen brain where I thought everything would work out exactly as i planned.  Thankfully I typically tore up my own car and not everyone else's.  There's a maturity in knowing when to make a move and when it's not worth it.  One of my few negative interactions with kid drivers was one night I was tooling around the back after at early crash and on the last lap this kid throws a wild slider on me that had almost no chance and wiped out the entire front end of my car.  The kid wadded up a grand or so of parts trying to make a pass for 16th or something stupid like that.    

In the course of 4 years of racing with ages 12 (or less...) to 70 I have many examples of situations where the age of a young driver was some kind of issue.  But I also have many more examples of times where the drivers age made absolutely no difference and we all raced together like it didn't matter.      

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