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.
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."