NASCAR – How Young is Too Young?

Harrison Burton – son of NASCAR vet Jeff Burton – will be helming the No. 51 Toyota for six races in 2017, and he isn’t the only teen racing in a premier Motorsport.

Sit down. We need to talk about something. We need to talk about these goddamn teens who won’t get the fuck off our lawn. All right, so there’s no lawn, but the point stays: there is an influx of young racers in several Motorsports, and it’s anyone’s guess as to if it becomes damaging at some point.

nascar-crash

Verstappen in F1, Marquez in MotoGP, and Burton in NASCAR. All three of these fine gentlemen have had the luck to step onto the track in their teens. Sure, Verstappen and Marquez are both amazing competitors; and some would argue that if they’ve got the grit and the drive to back up their claim to a position on the grid, leave them be. This is a fair assessment and I’ve no gripes with it. What I do have gripes with is the image that an oversaturation of young riders can give a sport.

Imagine watching the Superbowl or the World Cup with a bunch of 16-19-year-old players. It would feel a bit off, wouldn’t it? When we watch professional sports, we expect exactly that. Professional. Sports. “Professional” isn’t just relegated to someone’s conduct, experience plays a massive factor. Whether its nepotism or a confluence of other sources that are bringing so many young racers into the mix is irrelevant. Care needs to be placed on the age distribution of any given sport to ensure that there is a dynamic mix of various experiences levels and backgrounds. Homogony is only a death knell.

Oldies NASCAR.
Oldies NASCAR.

If I sound just a tad salty, maybe it’s just this following excerpt from Kyle Busch regarding Harrison’s exceptional debut performance – in which he started 17th and finished 22nd.

“In the end, he was able to bring the truck back in one piece – which isn’t an easy task for a young driver at that track…. Harrison did a really nice job in his Truck Series debut at Martinsville this year and we are excited to be able to bring him back for a six-race schedule in 2017” – Kyle Busch

He brought the car back in one piece? Is that the criteria for excellence in NASCAR? Come on.