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March 07, 2014 News
Morning Tims v1.2 – March 7, 2014
 

Scott and his son Keidon Fletcher enjoy their Saturday's at the Waterloo Regional Kart Club. Daughter Martie now races as well, and awesome mom Kimm regularly makes it a full Fletcher family outing (Photo: Dave Franks)
Scott and his son Keidon Fletcher enjoy their Saturday's at the Waterloo Regional Kart Club. Daughter Martie now races as well, and awesome mom Kimm regularly makes it a full Fletcher family outing
(Photo: Dave Franks)

Back in February, I had a great conversation with a karting father, talking about the sport, the rising costs of engines, the premium prices being asked for ‘special motors’, and the concept of paid ‘tuners’. As I’m sure you can guess, our talk didn’t have an overly positive tone. I’ve had multiple discussions of this nature, spending time listening to the pains that regular families are enduring when trying to manage running against the ‘haves’ in regional racing. If you’ve been in the sport for any length of time, it would be hard to argue against the fact that regional and national racing has gotten pretty out of hand in this country. Stacker trailers, full-time driver coaches, a line-up of paid mechanics, back-up equipment for your back-up equipment, home schooling and never-ending track time – this is not what karting is intended to be, at least in my opinion. But, this is motorsports, and you can’t stop people from spending money. That’s a fact.

During our chat, the father lamented the lack of a level playing field, and then went straight to questioning the sport. And it was at this time that I brought up the counterpoint that I’ve used on so many occasions. It has to do with what I believe should be the true benefit of taking your son or daughter karting. Here it is, plain and simple, beginning with a harsh reality. If you think that by participating and succeeding in karting that you’re putting your child on the road to a professional career in F1, NASCAR or IndyCar, think again – you are not. If you don’t have at least four million in the bank to play with, you don’t have what it takes to fund the full run up the ladder. That’s the reality, so don’t beat on the messenger. That’s the level of investment that it will likely take to even reach the upper level, because you’ll need to throw a ton of luck and opportunity in there as well. We’re in ride buyer’s world these days, folks, even in F1.

But this isn’t a negative column, far from it actually, because karting has so much to offer to those who can actually see one of its most positive benefits. What you do get from karting, and this should be your primary focus as a parent, is quality time with your child. And this is what I offered to the father who I spoke with last month. In a world where parents fight to get even a little of their kid’s daily attention, negotiating for time away from their cell phones, Facebook account, texting, messaging and video games etc, karting provides a one-on-one connection like no other. There’s not another sport that combines the demand for direct connection of parent-and-child with intense performance-driven pressure and excitement. It’s truly an incredible opportunity. Grassroots motorsports offers so much.
 

The Campbells are a perfect example of quality family time in karting. Scott Campbell (top left) and his father Dave (top right) are also a formidable father-son duo in Rotax competition, having won the Worlds in DD2 Masters in 2010
The Campbells are a perfect example of quality family time in karting. Scott Campbell (top left) and his father Dave (top right) are also a formidable father-son duo in Rotax competition, having won the Worlds in DD2 Masters in 2010

I have a comeback that I love to use at the track when a father’s response to my question “how’s your day going” is something along the lines of “it sucks, we’re struggling”. I often reply with…”that’s awesome, what an opportunity”. I’m obviously presented with a confused face, as the dad most certainly wonders why I’d wish any bad luck on his child. But I continue, giving them my point of view. I maintain that where else in the relationship that you have with your child, are you FORCED to sit down to solve a problem TOGETHER as a team? It rarely happens at home, right? In karting, you must sit down with your child and have them describe to you how the kart feels, and what it’s doing. There are parents out there who only dream of such an opportunity, such a magical connection, to have their child talking TO them, not AT them. So as your son or daughter actually talks to you, and you interact, you end up coming to a decision, a mutual ‘call to action’ to address the problem.

This is great stuff. Then, once adjustments have been made to the kart or the driver’s mental approach, you’ll be given the results of your combined efforts and it starts all over again. Your kids aren’t staring at a phone, or a TV show, or a video game. They’re looking YOU in the eyes as your work together. You’re teaching them problem solving, which is a valuable life asset. And more than that, you’re building memories. If you have a paid coach or tune, for your child, THEY’RE building memories with your kid, not you.

I’m not a father myself, nor was I afforded this opportunity with my Dad, but I still know that this is an incredibly valuable time in a relationship. Yes, it’s great to be fast and be the leader, winning trophy after trophy, but I believe that there’s more value in the struggle and the chase. Your kids are going to grow up and be out of the house before you know it, so enjoying the connection you have in karting is key. If you’re lucky, it’s a relationship that you can have for a lifetime, as has been demonstrated by many families in our sport.

So when the snow melts and we finally emerge from our igloos back into the warm sun of spring, please head to the track with a true understanding of how blessed you are to be out there with your kids, fighting together to find the set-up, working all day, and then talking about it all on the ride home. The time with your child is truly the gift that karting provides, as long as you take the time to see it.

Race safe,

Rob Howden
Editor / Publisher
eKartingNews.ca
United States Quebec Ontario Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia New Brunswick Nova Scotia



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