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DOWN WILL COME BABY, CYCLE AND ALL
Ernest Havemann
August 13, 1973
Among the lessons learned at mother's knee these days are drink your milk, watch your revs and come home with that trophy
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August 13, 1973

Down Will Come Baby, Cycle And All

Among the lessons learned at mother's knee these days are drink your milk, watch your revs and come home with that trophy

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The parents, indeed, are a mixed blessing. Without their willingness to invest thousands of dollars, there would be no racing. And they also help, as in the Little League, by serving as assistant officials, keeping track of the entries and getting the races started. But some do cause trouble. The term for it around the tracks is "pit racing." Says one official, "If we were just dealing with the kids, everything would be fine. Lots of times we feel like saying to a youngster, "Boy, we sure wish you had left your father at home today.' " Which is hardly unfamiliar in all kinds of children's sport.

One has to wonder whether the kids would show up at all unless father loved the game so much. But no parent seems ready to admit he has pushed his youngsters into racing. All the parents swear, "We leave it up to the kids"; or "They're the ones that love racing"; or "The one thing we never do is force them." There have been some unhappy incidents. After one race, a father who thought his son had lost through a stupid mistake—after all those long hours dad put in getting the bike in shape—was seen to vent his frustration by hitting the boy with a wrench.

What probably happens in miniracing is a lot of attrition. A family gets into it because dad always dreamed of winning a Grand Prix himself or because a youngster is consumed by envy for a friend who has a bike. Once the bike is in the garage, a lot of things can go wrong. Dad may find the bills too steep or the mechanical work too difficult. Mother may get the shakes the first time she sees her youngster on the track. ("There have been some couples," says one track promoter, "who really got in trouble because the wife didn't like it.") The youngster may get bored or scared. The game may bring the family not togetherness but a lot of arguments between an eager father and a kid without much talent. These families drop out. They show up at the track for a while, win no trophies and disappear. Those left are the chosen few who really share a liking for the game. A California airline pilot with two racing sons says, "All my colleagues think I'm weird—but I want to tell you, our family really loves this sport."

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