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 Columns & Editorials

July 16, 2001

What's Wrong With Young Racers?

By Jack Smith

A few times recently I have seen items posted on the message boards on KARNAC.com about youthful drivers that set me off a bit. Not that it takes much to do that, but I get so confused with all this talk about family this and family that and then kids don't belong in the pits, kids don't belong on the track, and to borrow a phrase from the Putnam Web site blah, blah, blah.

People have been ripping young Jason Boyd apart for his actually being young. I got so incited by that garbage I called my buddy Scott Hawkins (announcer for the SARA series and contributor to KARNAC.com in many ways) up on the phone and we talked about it and this is some of what he had to say:

"I have gotten to know Jason and his father very well over the past 3 years with the SARA series and I have to say Jason is as nice, humble and polite young man that I know. He is VERY soft spoken and I have NEVER heard him say anything that would be considered to be arrogant or abusive. (ok...maybe abusive after the race, but I have heard ALL of them do that!) I have never heard him talk about "going all the way to Winston Cup", just trying to go as far as he can, and who can fault him for that? I can only go by my experience....but Jason is a nice, respectable young man with his own problems to deal with like EVERYONE else. He is GREAT for the [SARA]Series and he ALWAYS makes the races exciting. What I don't understand is how mature adults get on here and bash an 18 yr old young man. I like Jason and everyone on his team, and take them for what they are....a group of fun and crazy young men racing on Saturday nights."

It seems Jason Boyd does what all young people do. They do things that irritate adults. After raising two of my own and dealing with all my friends kids, I can certainly vouch for that. Scott Hawkins made the point: the young man is a good guy.

Now I must point out that B.J. McLeod, approaching 18, started an ASA race at 13 years and eleven months of age and finished the race in 18th place. He won two late model championships at different tracks in one year at age 14. The ASA is a far cry from local pure stocks or street stocks. At 15 he came in second in points in the Southern All Star Series, of which many say is the fastest late model series in the country. Though in my mind (and I may be a bit biased) he is a stellar example of youthful success in the stock car game, there are literally hundreds of examples of this sort of success. I get press releases and news items and PR material quite often detailing some amazing performances. Enough that if I so chose I could easily have a fairly large web site dedicated to youngsters who are out dueling their much older and more experienced on track adversaries. There are just some things that our youth can adapt to quicker than adults. Golf, swimming, computers, and yes in my opinion, going fast and turning left.

We just have to give them a chance to succeed.

And after all, this thing called stock car racing supposed to be about family?

I think that includes youth.

-Jack Smith

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