October 31, 2013

Nurture over nature in the 21st Century


From the New York Times in 2009:
8 Years Old, Going on 60 Miles Per Hour

By BILL KONIGSBERG 
Published: May 3, 2009 
CONCORD, N.C. — Macy Causey tested Concord Speedway’s quarter-mile track for the first time, flooring the gas pedal in her black-and-pink 30-horsepower racecar and reaching 60 miles per hour on the straightaways.

Her instructor timed the laps and shouted into Macy’s headset: “You’re braking too soon. Stay on the gas longer.” 
Minutes later, 8-year-old Macy pulled off the track. Her parents, Rette and Dee Causey, opened the hatch, and Macy’s small, gloved hands grabbed the upper bars of the cage as if the car were a jungle gym. She pulled herself into her father’s arms. 
“Great job, honey,” he said. 
Macy’s racecar, a used Bandolero that cost $3,000, was a gift from her parents for her birthday last November, and her father taught her to drive it. The 550-pound Bandolero — 34 inches high and 47 inches wide with a 70-inch wheelbase — can reach 75 m.p.h. But speed is restricted on the short tracks where the 8- to 15-year-olds race them. 
Many children begin go-karting as early as age 3. Macy, a second grader in Seaford, Va., is starting with Bandolero racing, a series created in 1997 by the sanctioning body INEX (short for inexpensive) for entry-level cars. Drivers need only be 8; they do not have to pass any safety tests or meet any other requirements. 
... Because INEX prohibits modifications to the cars, owners need not spend a lot to keep up with other drivers....

But racing involves other expenses. Almost everyone has a hauler; the Causeys’ cost about $300,000. Their rig is like a studio apartment, with a leather couch, a recliner, a flat-screen satellite television, a kitchen, a dining table and a bathroom with an enclosed shower. 
Macy's team consists of her parents and her crew chief, Chris Conley, who works on the cars in their garage. 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

OT: Because diversity just isn't good enough anymore:

" Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) "

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/superdiversity-institute/index.aspx

"The Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) works to advance and promote the University's expertise in the emerging field of superdiversity. We are the first institute in the UK and one of the first globally, to focus on superdiversity."

Get a Master's in "New Diversity":

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/social-policy/new-migration-social-policy.aspx

" The MA New Migration and Social Policy will explore the social, economic and political effects of the new era of migration and consequent emerging superdiversity. It will analyse the multiple variables displayed by different migrants in terms of age and gender profiles, as well as immigration status, and associated rights and entitlements. "

OSS said...

I was involved on the fringes of cart racing and really entry level real racing for a few years. Mellow, laid back guys went into full Dragon Dad mode, and there was usually a Dragon Mom involved as well.

The kids made school a distant second priority, and many of the parents put very, very good jobs(a necessity) on the back burner as well to travel with the racing team. Yes, there are racing teams in karting.

Racing really is nature and nurture. You've got to have the smarts, athletic ability(esp. reflexes) and get in seat time before you get too old. It's probably close to Gladwell's 10,000 hours, and there's a lot of off track work to be done as well.

The article doesn't capture how expensive it is either. You're well into the tens of thousands for serious carting, and from there it goes into the hundreds.

Renault said...

What kind of parents allow their 8-year-old daughter to pilot a vehicle at speeds above 60 mph?

DCThrowback said...

Wired reports that Heat C Chris Bosh is, in fact, smarter than you:

http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/10/chris-bosh-why-everyone-should-learn-to-code/

"Luckily, having extremely geeky parents that were constantly testing gadgets and flashing mad AutoCAD skills helped push my hands towards a keyboard and learning to code when they weren’t palming a basketball or blocking an opponent.

For as far back as I can remember, my mom had a business called Computer Help. So I pretty much grew up around computers. Later on, she worked for Texas Instrument. We used to come back home after school and my mom would bring all these new TI gadgets for us to test and play around with; I still remember the first digital cameras! When people were still using AutoCAD, my dad did professional plumbing, engineering, and designing for a couple different companies."

Anonymous said...

Since the Steveosphere seems to regard Brazil as the present face of the future America, it might be instructive to look at the state of youth racing there. All of the great Formula One drivers of the past 20+ years started in karting, and most of them started in karting as early as 6 or 7. Brazil is the most racing-mad nation in the world, but it is interesting to see that even at the karting and next rungs up (Formula Ford, Formula 3000, etc.) the drivers progressing are almost all from the pure-Euro crust of that society. You would think that Brazil, a) having dominated the ranks of world-class drivers for decades, and b) having such a diverse racial mix, would have offered up some clearly "black" racers by now.

You'd be wrong. From Emerson Fittipaldi (70s) to Ayrton Senna (80s/90s) to Rubens Barrichello (00s) they've all looked like they belong hanging out in some chilly Piedmontese machine shop in a Turin suburb.

Anonymous said...

oh well, another daddy's girl in the making

The Anti-Gnostic said...

But racing involves other expenses. Almost everyone has a hauler; the Causeys’ cost about $300,000. Their rig is like a studio apartment...

Macy's team consists of her parents and her crew chief, Chris Conley, who works on the cars in their garage.


What recession?!

Seriously, America seems to have blown right past that whole austerity thing.

Scharlach said...

In case you missed this Steve:

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/30/5867780/california-state-sen-ron-calderon.html

Calderon funneled bribe money through his brother's non-profit, "Californians for Diversity".

Bribe money was also channeled from other sources, via the CA Latino Caucus, through this same non-profit.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about that $300,000 figure for the "hauler"?

NOTA said...

It's a big world, with interesting diversity (as opposed to the sort of dreary officially mandated diversity presided over by humorless diversity officers). But I have to admit, it would never even *occur* to me to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to help one of my kids be a racecar driver.

dsb steve said...

I think people 100 years from now are going to wish they had the fuel which was burned by countless race cars in countless nascar races.

Auntie Analogue said...


Motor racing's equivalent of the Jonbenet Ramsey set.

This sort of thing is always far more about the adults - the supposed adults - than it is about the children. In this instance it's NASCAR tiger parents' obsession.

pat said...

You were writing about robots just the other day. Drag racing seems to be a sport in which robots should do very well.

Just wire up the car to the starting lights and Bob's your Uncle.

Many high end cars now have launch control. That takes the mystery out of drag race starting. Since they don't make turns you don't need to steer. Why have a driver at all?

With those Nomex uniforms and head encircling helmets you can't see the driver anyway. Soon someone will substitute a dummy and no one will know.

Remember forty years ago Lance Reventlow secretly installed an automatic transmission in his Scarabs. No one knew for months. Months in which he won all the races.

Alberysaurus

Anonymous said...

But racing involves other expenses. Almost everyone has a hauler; the Causeys’ cost about $300,000. Their rig is like a studio apartment...

Macy's team consists of her parents and her crew chief, Chris Conley, who works on the cars in their garage.


This kind of background is the norm for pro racers. If you read about pro racers - NASCAR, Indy, dragging, whatever - they all start at a very young age with organized kart racing and the like.

Even though it's expensive, I imagine it's not a bad investment for the parents since it's a fairly niche thing and not mainstream like Little League. There are many minor racing leagues and organizations, from upper echelon, more mainstream racing like NASCAR and Indy and Formula 1, to pickup truck racing, demolition derby, monster truck racing, etc., so that a kid with a background in racing at an early age provided by his parents has a decent shot at being in professional racing in some capacity. Even if not as racers, as crew members, mechanics, managers, etc.

Anonymous said...

Women on motocross:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRB2QTP8DpU

Anonymous said...

The article doesn't capture how expensive it is either. You're well into the tens of thousands for serious carting, and from there it goes into the hundreds



You must have missed this part then - "Almost everyone has a hauler; the Causeys’ cost about $300,000. Their rig is like a studio apartment, with a leather couch, a recliner, a flat-screen satellite television, a kitchen, a dining table and a bathroom with an enclosed shower. Macy's team consists of her parents and her crew chief, Chris Conley, who works on the cars in their garage."

Where do Mom and Dad get this sort of dough to throw at their childs pastime?

Alex said...

"Even though it's expensive, I imagine it's not a bad investment for the parents since it's a fairly niche thing and not mainstream like Little League."

I'd think a better parental investment would be a sport that's not so expensive and offers a chance at college scholarships -- which racing most certainly does not. And making a good living in racing is like making a good living as a rock star -- only those at the upper echelon manage to do very well, and it's really tough to get to that level.

If racing's what they love to do and they have the means to do it, then by all means -- that's a much more exciting childhood than a kid will get in Little League or soccer. But it's not a very good investment from the financial side of things; it's just a very cool hobby.

Anonymous said...

Renault asks: "What kind of parents allow their 8-year-old daughter to pilot a vehicle at speeds above 60 mph?"
As much as I love motor racing, I would never allow my kid to race at less than double that age. Used to regularly attend short track motorcycle events at the Ross Downs dirt track in north Texas (since torn down and turned into a housing subdivision) where kids as young as 5 or 6 were allowed to race on tiny little motorcycles, as a sort of warm-up to the real racing. The absolute champ was a 6 year old girl, whose parents got her the best equipment, and hovered over her before the start of every race. Their devotion was genuine, but misguided, I think.One night the inevitable happened, and the child racers piled up on the curve. One little boy high-sided, was thrown onto the track, and his helmet popped off. The fact that this occurred at slow speed didn't make it any less horrifying (we were told that he was not hurt).
I do not think that children's bodies, particularly thier necks, are strong enough the handle the forces of a collision at 60 mph, even with helmets and restraining devices.

I am not Spartacus said...

I hope the parents were at least using medical marijuana because I can;t imagine a sober parent doing that

Anonymous said...

"I hope the parents were at least using medical marijuana because I can;t imagine a sober parent doing that"

Football and soccer are far more dangerous than racing because of the repeated head traumas involved. In racing, kids get scared and lift; you can't really "lift" in football, although in soccer you can definitely choose not to head the ball. People just see moving cars and think something is overtly dangerous which is only half true. People see stick and ball sports and think they are safe, which is only half true.

Racing appeals to about 15% of the population at most. I am not sure, but I would imagine there is some genetic combinations that involves horses and sensations for speed that is involved. Every top racing driver has a mega-death wish; though few will openly admit it. Lewis Hamilton admitted such last year. The riders on the Isle of Man are all insane and there is a great interview with rider Guy Martin where he flat out says that he likes riding because a mistake means your dead.

Of course racing is not the only sport like this. Free climbing, big wave surfing, base jumping, alpine mountaineering, downhill skiing, luge, etc. There are a ton of activities were success is reserved for those with the nerve.

NOTA said...

Anon 4:22:

And again, it's a big, diverse, interesting world. I'm glad there are people who thrill-seek--we need test pilots and astronauts and soldiers and explorers--but it sure isn't appealing to me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I do not disparage the Guy Martins of the world. There are plenty of occupations dominated by adrenaline junkies, including combat infantry, police SWAT, etc. My point was that I do not believe little children belong on the racetrack.

Tom Merle said...

This is the age that Danica Patrick was racing Go Karts. Her family was kung ho for the sport like the parents profiled in the sport. But there is also nature in the DP story.Hasn't anyone else noticed that she must be a lesbian no matter how many bikini shoots she does? She had the cover marriage which broke apart. Too much money is riding on her staying in the closet.

Melendwyr said...

Think of how many other children these people could have had if they had been willing to spend the resources they diverted into racecar driving.

Anonymous said...

What kind of parents allow their 8-year-old daughter to pilot a vehicle at speeds above 60 mph?

Right on!

Besides the obvious physical danger, such activity robs children of their childhood. An 8-year-old girl needs to be with other 8-year-old girls, playing house with Barbie dolls, playing hopscotch, playing marry-a-doctor, and beating up on 7-year-old girls.