16 to 17.999 year olds


"The Okie"
I have read many things pro and con about allowing ICSCC to allow drivers aged 16 to 18 years old to compete. I have also read how ICSCC is getting grey haired and looking for new members. So I am going to throw this back out for discussion. We need more volunteers and drivers. Period. Many things may be a contributor, fuel vista, race costs, etc etc. To bring this to a simple focus let's just consider an untapped area that ICSCC has not tried but SCCA has. The younger drivers. What has been successful at SCCA and what has not? How can we mine that info and create a program that would be better?

Can we create an "underage" group where these aspiring folks have a venue to race in, be coached, mentored, restricted etc which can lead to a full license upon their teaching if legal age?

Lets think outside the box. Please dont be cynical but creative. For goodness sakes please dont say can't!
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I appreciate that you are trying to look at areas that could bring us new young members, but this has been thrashed to death. I personally have no problem with trying to include anyone who can prove that they are not a danger to other drivers and fit within the goal of the continuation of the fine racing tradition ICSCC has worked hard for here in the Northwest. This is primarily a legal/insurance issue for Conference and until someone under the age of 18 can sign away their rights via waiver, I'm pretty sure the rule isn't going to change. I am more comfortable with that decision for a few simple reasons.

1) The total number of potential 16-18 year olds that are affected by this decision is VERY small. It's not like we are costing ourselves 100 entries, and probably not even 10. More like 1-3 at most.
2) We do have a strong program to prepare them for racing as soon as they turn 18. Not many kids are coming from the great unknown into Conference. They have some tie to us and are often a current driver's son, daughter, nephew, niece, neighbor, or close friend. Those 16 year olds have the opportunity to come out and crew, volunteer, and participate in Conference races so they know a lot about the organization and structure of our group before they start. A couple of years helping somebody get to pre-grid, checking tire pressures, thrashing to fix damage before the next race group, and building enthusiasm is not such a bad thing. Yes, I know patience is not in abundant supply at that age, but it is a valuable trait to develop for someone who wants to start racing.
3) There are lots of appropriate racing activities for them to participate in and hone their skills while they wait for the big one eight. Karting has been proven time and time again to teach many valuable lessons that translate to sports car racing. It can also be done *relatively* inexpensively so the determination can be made that the young person in question is even really interested in racing once they get a better idea of what it is really about.

Heck - if it was up to me I would suggest that we say that any 16-18 year old who is serious about racing can only run ONE class until they reach 18: Formula Vee. It would get mothballed FV's out of people's garages and gets young drivers into a car that is inexpensive and teaches a lot of valuable lessons at moderate speeds. That would solve the 16 year old problem and help with the open wheel counts all at the same time.

Unfortunately, the underlying problem remains. It is an insurance/legal problem until we see a shift back towards personal responsibility, period.
But isn't the problem actually specific to WA? It's not an issue in Canada, of course, which is why SCCBC can do some things related to sub-18 year-olds that other clubs can't, but does anyone know what the legal situation is vis a vis minors and waivers in OR?
The fact that the corner workers ranks are getting thin and the numbers if racers is reason enough to me to keep discussing it. I am not advocating approaching this like the government does: keep trying a doomed plan each time it fails with the hopes it will work simply due to repetition. I am talking about looking to tap into a group of people, develop a sound plan, cover insurance and liability subjects thoroughly in order to have a program that will attract the younger groups and increase our numbers. Otherwise ICSCC could become an exclusive club for the aging.
As someone who has raced, on occasion, over the past two years with SCCA Spec Miata, I don't have any problem with the age. These "kids" are talented, well prepped and well supported. I know one who would love to race Conference at times, but can't due to age. I do agree with Rick that the potential numbers are very small, but that should have little to do with the merits of the discussion. No reason why Conference could not mirror SCCA or NASA...racing is racing.
Many reasons why ICSCC doesn't mirror the SCCA and almost all of them excellent.

I love the spirit that makes people keep trying over and over again to move something forward that they feel strongly about even after it has been explained why it won;t work. In a lot of ways this is the spirit that has made America great; finding ways to overcome obstacles and move forward regardless of those who say it can't be done. I applaud your determination to try to make this happen.

Here is the downside. It always seems like this discussion suggests that the ICSCC is just too stubborn to give you what you want and that continued pleas might make them change their minds. Let's start with a few basic assumptions:

1) The ICSCC exists as an organizational body to coordinate the efforts of the member and affiliate clubs. Their entire purpose is to facilitate and sanction motorsports related events in the Northwest. Anything that encourages higher and more successful participation without endangering the sport and the drivers, volunteers, and spectators is something that they not only don't oppose but work very hard to accomplish.

2) There is no logical reason for ICSCC to have a baseless bias against anyone on the basis of age or, for that matter, most other determining factors. Add to that my personal knowledge of the members of the E-board who as a group categorically fall among some of the more thoughtful and accepting members of society that I have had the pleasure to meet, and certainly would take no pleasure in groundless discrimination.

3) The E-board is tasked with making fair decisions that represent the will of the membership in a relatively open process that is driven, scrutinized, and discussed by the membership. Any decision will be dissected, debated, and evaluated by everyone who cares to comment. We send people to make these decisions who's judgement we have come to respect and trust so we must believe they are being made for some logical reason, not just whim.

If you believe ANY of the preceding statements even just a little, you have to conclude that the decision to exclude 16 year olds from race license elgibility was made by people who thought it over carefully, weighed the logical advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately protected the future of the organization and it's members regardless of their personal feelings on the matter.

Anyone under the age of 18 cannot legally sign away their rights. It has lso been ruled and upheld that parents cannot legally sign away the rights of their minor children. This means that if minors are allowed to race everyone who is a member of the club and especially those who are there on a race weekend are accepting liability to watch out for that minor because he legally is under no obligation to look out for himself. It is my understanding that it is the carefully considered opinion of Conference that allowing 16 year olds to race unduly endangers out continued operation and existence from a liability and insurability standpoint.

I appreciate your passion on this issue but the change you need doesn't come from ICSCC. An insurance company that would agree to hold us harmless in the event of an injured minor and/or a successful court challenge to the assumption that neither minors nor their parents can be held responsible for the potential outcome of racing decisions IS what you would need to throw your effort behind changing. If you personally believe that a 16 year old has the judgement required to be responsible for critical decisions then by all means campaign for those rights - not just for RACING but fighting, drinking, driving, stealing, and voting.

Don't take this as a statement for or against - just an explanation that a very real thought process was applied to it. I know 16 year olds who are mature enough to race and 50 year olds who aren't. We aren't arguing about ability, we are simply arguing about who pays the price when things go wrong.
Yeah but but but.... Thanks Rick. I appreciate the back ground and history.

Not saying it would be an easy undertaking, or if there are enough 16 to 18 year olds to even justify the thought. What I am not saying is they run with the masses. In fact I feel it would be best to create another group just for them and coach- tutor them until they reach legal age. The intent here is to help grow Conference driver numbers.

Now I have to go look up some words that are too big for me ;)

I am not sure how long ago decisions were made to exclude minors from competing within Conference. It may have been just recently, so please excuse my lack of knowledge in this regard. Exploring whether or not Conference should begin to license minors to compete with the rest of us is one thing. But, excluding say a National SCCA competitor who just happens to be 16 or so, is quite another matter. As I understand it, a National SCCA champion could not race with us if he is under 18. I personally disagree with that and find the restriction a bit archaic. If that is incorrect, please set me straight. I would gladly race side by side with every under 18 competitor I know. I can not say that about every other racer. Personally, if an under 18 driver holds a SCCA
competition license, they should be able to pay their money and take a green flag. I am not sure why this is an insurance/legal issue as it does not appear to present a problem within either SCCA or NASA.

I race both SCCA and Conference. I prefer Conference for a number of reasons, but I do think there is a bit of bias against SCCA within some Conference racers. Just an opinion after almost two years. But hey, I love racing Conference and try to get as many of my SCCA buds to cross over into the light.

Bill ...

We absolutely have no bias against just about any racer other than those awarded to individual racers earned through individual behavior. SCCA is a competing organization for the ICSCC and we all know that there are only so many "race entries" to go around so it is certainly fair to say we don't go out of our way to urge racers to use their "race entry" with SCCA instead of Conference. That only makes good sense.

On the other hand, we share a certain number of competitors and volunteers and we try to be civilized in our competition rather than bloodthirsty. Both SCCA and ICSCC honor each others licenses although from anecdotal info it sounds like we try to welcome SCCA drivers a bit more than SCCA welcomes ours. I don't say that from a competitor to competitor basis because I think most racers are pretty friendly and respectful to each other but the SCCA and their plethora of stewards can be a bit off-putting for those who are used to the more friendly Conference experience. If anything, it is my experience that the SCCA has a slight tendancy to look at Conference as their more successful but less sophisticated cousins from "the sticks" and maybe look down their noses at us just a little. I'm guessing that these irritations are probably pretty minor in either direction and personally, I have met LOTS of great people who race or have raced with SCCA. We actively reach out to their drivers and volunteers to join our little Conference family whenever we can.

I will make the point that I think our novice program is outstanding and many other organizations feel the same as their novices come to us for their initial training.

I was a member of the SCCA at one point, but it has been a while ago. Years ago they were synonymous with club racing in the U.S and a very proud organization that was the portal to more serious levels of racing. I've felt for a while now that they have lost their way a bit and are having trouble deciding whether they are a club or a business. Frankly they lose too much money to be a business and ignore the wishes of their members too much to be a club! Still, I hope they can return to their roots and I wish them success just so long as it never comes at the expense of the ICSCC.

Now, as to your point. As I mentioned earlier NONE of this comes down to the abilities of the drivers in question regardless of age. It doesn't matter whether you would gladly race next to them or not, that has absolutely nothing to do with the decision. 16 year olds are not excluded becasue we are afraid of them. ICSCC must have insurance coverage to hold races. Insurance providers don't want to cover 16 year olds because there is no limit to their potential liability. 16 year old race licenses = no insurance. No insurance = no races. My understanding is that some other sanctioning bodies are able to present larger insurance pools that dilute risk because they are national organizations with much larger memberships. We are a regional organization with a pretty small membership. Insurance companies must have reached some actuarial calculation that makes them believe the amount they collect in premiums is enough to allow the increased risk of 16 year olds. If you can present a solid contract with a reputable insurance provider that protects the current members of Conference and adds coverage for 16 year olds without increasing everyones rates then I'm sure Conference would be glad of the extra entries.

I'm sorry if you feel there is some degree of negative bias towards SCCA members, because that is not what we have been striving to project. I welcome them whenever possible and urge anyone in the Conference family to do the same. We have many who have come over from SCCA and they always say that they stay because we have been such a welcoming and friendly organization. If you have some specific instances, I would love to hear them so I can make sure they are handled better in the future.

Is there in fact a denial of coverage of under 18 year olds by the insurance company? Will they cover them but the cost to do so is unobtainium? I have heard this and lots of other things that the insurance company won't cover but have also heard it is a matter of being economically feesable. I for one would like to see the what they said and the cost if there is one. Then I would understand better and not question as much. I think we still need to come up with some way of getting more drivers and volunteers. Ideas?
Kyle, from my viewpoint the younger drivers who are coming up through karting and heading to SCCA do so because they find more exposure there on a national level. They are looking to move up and find more opportunity with an organization like SCCA as opposed to our little NW based group.
We have had a number of young 'hot shoes' in the NW over the years, but hardly any of them raced Conference, with the exception of Andrew Caddell. They would rather be on the big stage where the potential sponsors prefer them to be, so even if we were to change this rule by finding an insurance carrier who would accept them, I doubt we'd see many show up on our doorstep.
Bill ...

ICSCC must have insurance coverage to hold races. Insurance providers don't want to cover 16 year olds because there is no limit to their potential liability. 16 year old race licenses = no insurance. No insurance = no races. My understanding is that some other sanctioning bodies are able to present larger insurance pools that dilute risk because they are national organizations with much larger memberships. We are a regional organization with a pretty small membership. Insurance companies must have reached some actuarial calculation that makes them believe the amount they collect in premiums is enough to allow the increased risk of 16 year olds. If you can present a solid contract with a reputable insurance provider that protects the current members of Conference and adds coverage for 16 year olds without increasing everyones rates then I'm sure Conference would be glad of the extra entries.


I'll start by saying that I truly appreciate the work all of you guys/ladies do as volunteers. We wouldn't be racing without it.

Having said this, the insurance reason for disallowing younger drivers seems nonsensical. Every kart track we go to has minor waivers that the parents have to sign, allowing their kids to kart. Same with hockey, baseball, football, karate, and every other sport where there is some chance of injury (or worse). Even some of the commercial performance schools allow minors in their schools with a permit (15 1/2 in WA), not even a license.

As a question, and certainly not accusatory in any way, but has our insurance advisory looked at this recently (like Scott needs something else to do) ;-) ? There may not be a bunch of 16-18 year old bodies out there waiting to give money to conference, but there may be, as well.

Thanks again for your time and effort to make Conference, and IRDC, a great place to be.

Guys, it has to do with a minor in the State of Washington not being able to legally sign away their rights, nor can their parents. As Rick said ( and sometimes gets lost in his lengthy though eloquent posts) go lobby the courts. Any group that is using a minor release form in Washington State either does not know about this, or is looking the other way.
Dan - while I appreciate your comparisons it has nothing to do with OUR decision. The incidence of serious injury or death, or even more possibley the PERCEPTION of such, must be less with hockey, baseball, football, karate, and every other sport where there is some chance of injury (or worse).

I don't make the rules in this instance, I just have to live by them. The people who make all of this happen are volunteers who also hold down full-time (or more than full-time!) jobs. We are tasked with putting on safe and entertaining events for our members, which we gladly do to support the sport and friends that we enjoy so much. To do so means we need insurance. I have to believe that there are extensive actuarial calculations done to justify the business model of companies insuring ANYONE involved in sports with lightly increased personal risk. Suffice to say there is also an increased pool of customers to defray the potential liability as there MUST be 1000 time more people involved in high school football just in the state of Ohio in one year than the total number of people who have raced a car in North America in the last ten years.

I reiterate - put your efforts where your mouth is. I hear lots of calls for us to just make this happen - if you have a reputable insurance broker in mind that will cover minors without impacting our ability to insure legal adults then by all means forward their name to us and we will be happy to investigate.
Don't be frustrated, Rick. I truly do appreciate all the effort you and the other volunteers do. It was an honest question, not a "shot". I wouldn't do that, after all, you drive a bigger car than I do! ;-) Your comment is understood, though - put your time where your mouth is ...

Given that, I did make some calls last night, both to my business' commercial insurance broker in Seattle, and to our Conference Insurance Adviser (Scott Adare) . I understand the situation better, and although my understanding may be slightly different than your's or Lance's, I think I ended up at the same conclusion. My take:

The problem (as I now understand it) is that in Washington, some jurisdictions have ruled in cases where Minor Waivers have been used (and not in motorsports BTW - so the problem is not actuarial associated with the small number of car racers out there relative to football players) allowing potential liability for the insurer (again, in spite of the waiver). In general, if the parents/guardians have signed a valid waiver, and the kid is hurt, and if the parents cannot pay for his medical care, it falls back to the state of WA to pick up the tab. In WA, the courts have allowed the state to go after the insurer, even if a waiver is in place. THAT, I believe, is the salient point. In many jurisdictions, the waivers have been upheld, but WA has some case law that goes the other direction. It is a risk tolerance thing. There is a better chance, in WA, if you sign a minor waiver, your kid is hurt, and you can't pay the medical bills, when the state incurs cost, they may go after the event's insurer. If they go after your insurer, you may be looking for another insurer next year, or not be able to have an event, due to a lack of insurance.

BTW - I'm with you on the personal responsibility comment.

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To throw a curve ball; there are two states and another country. Is it all Washington based or can CSCC, SCCBC and TC offer something and be ok?