Is your child the next Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher? Or perhaps your child has a future similar to that of Richard Petty or David Pearson? There is no way to find out unless you expose your child to motorsports. If you can see that your child has an interest in motorsport and you want to open up the career possibility or even hobby option, there are several things you can do to get your child into it.
Getting your child into motorsports shouldn’t become a main aim of yours. By presenting the opportunity, you are doing as much as you can. The rest is up to your child to decide. If you want to learn more about getting your children interested in and participating in motorsports, read on.
12 ways to get your kids into motorsports:
1. Talk about it!
The psychology behind talking about your passions to your children is an interesting one. Young children want to follow in their parent’s footsteps, which means liking what they like and doing what they do.
If you start telling your child about your favorite motorsport stars from an early age, they too will start to follow them and become interested in them. Of course, it is important not to push the idea of liking motorsports onto your child. Merely make it a conversation piece.
Regardless of your child’s age, show him/her that you want to share your passion/enjoyment of the sport; and that you value their thoughts and opinions on the topic of motorsports. It is an excellent and psychologically sound way to help develop a healthy interest in a sport/activity/hobby.
2. Get your children motorsport themed toys.
When your children are still young, you can prime their minds towards motorsports by buying them motorsport-themed toys. There are many to choose from on the market from ride on Formula One toys to mini dirt bikes that can be used in the backyard. Take an interest in showing your child how these toys work, and each year, as they get older, spend time and effort expanding on these toys and providing more up-to-date, age-appropriate options.
3. Watch NASCAR and Formula One with your children.
For me, Formula One has always been a big thing in my life, and I owe that to my dad. Every time there was a F1 race planned, we would make a date, set up our snacks and comfy chairs, take possession of the television remote and spend a few hours watching the qualifying races, the lead up to the race, and then the actual race.
We would support our favorite drivers and spend the entire time commenting and learning. If I did not have this kind of experience, I probably would not have become so interested in motorsports myself. This type of excitement that’s provided by race days can spark an interest in a child. They too might want to zoom around the track at high speed one day – and of course, win the title.
4. Take your children on fun go-karting days.
Go-Karting is often thought of as the gateway to motorsports for children. In fact, many drivers on the F1 grid started out go-karting as young children. If you have not been go-karting with your children yet, now is the time to do so. Spend a few hours making it an exciting experience, and then chat with your child about the level of enjoyment he/she got out of it. Is it something that he/she would like to do as a hobby, perhaps regularly?
5. Introduce your children to Autograss.
As a parent, you probably already know how expensive it can be when a child decides a hobby or sport is no longer for them. By this stage, you have usually already bought the kit and equipment, and spend quite a bit of money on lessons. Ouch!
Autograss provides a cost-effective way for parents to ascertain just how keen and skilled their kids are in this particular sport/activity. In fact, it is known as the cheap motorsport.
Autograss is a form of racing that is done on an oval grass track/circuit. The grass is all but worn away and there are tons of different vehicle classes that race from hatchbacks to motorcycles. The good news is that your child can race a Class One vehicle (hatchbacks that are smaller than 1 liter) from the age of 12.
So, if you are happy to pop your 12-year-old in a Citroen or Nissan Micra to see how they do, this is a great first motorsport option (or even second after go-karting). Another great perk is that these events are usually fun for the whole family.
6. Expose your children to motorsport fantasy leagues.
If your child is of a decent age to be introduced to fantasy leagues, then consider introducing him/her to motorsport fantasy leagues. You might be surprised to find that there are many fantasy F1 leagues to choose from.
Teach your children how to do research into each driver’s performance history and how to pick cars and teams accordingly. Teach them how to read the stats. Most kids love to “bet” against their parents, so use this opportunity to drive interest, intrigue, and excitement around motorsports.
7. Take your children to the motocross or dirt bike track.
Sometimes you do not have to inspire children much to do something. I remember being taken to the race track one Sunday afternoon just to watch other kids (and adults) learn the ropes and put in some practice. Sitting on the sidelines was interesting and fun, but more than that, I felt left out and wanted to be involved. This is often the case with racecar drivers. Watching others enjoy it can spark an interest.
8. Buy your child a NASCAR racing experience gift.
If you shop around online, you will find various experience gifts that offer the opportunity for a NASCAR experience or high-speed F1 experience. These gifts typically involve the recipient attending a day at the track, getting a full introduction to the vehicle, seeing what happens behind the scenes in the pit, being zoomed around the track, and possibly even the opportunity to drive the vehicle themselves. This is often all it takes to get a child actively interested in becoming a motorsport driver.
9. Save money – you are going to need it for the equipment!
Once the bug has bitten, your child is going to start asking for helmets, gloves, protective pads, jackets, shirts, shoes, socks – the list goes on. There is a general misconception that motorsports are expensive and better suited to children from wealthy families. That’s not entirely true. However, saving a bit of money along the way is a good idea as you are going to need it for a kit throughout the years.
10. Join a motorsport club or league.
The next step is to take a look at the various motorsport clubs (or leagues) that are aimed at children. Consult with your child about each club and type of motorsport. Perhaps take your child to visit each club to see what it is like and get a bit more exposure to the type of racing they do.
Some options to look into are Go-Kart, Motor Cross, Dirt Biking, Autocross, AutoSOLOs, Circuit racing, and Rallycross. Not only will this expose your child to training opportunities, but it will also put your child in a great position to meet other children with similar interests.
This is a far better way for your child to be making friends and spending time than in front of a gaming console or being exposed to potential trouble at malls, friend’s houses, and other hangouts.
11. Bite the bullet – buy the kit!
One of the pesky things about children is that they grow out of everything too quickly!
Just because you need to buy the kit, does not mean that you have to spend a fortune. Spend a bit of time comparing the prices of new gear to second-hand gear. Look into hiring certain items on a “per use” basis when at the track. There is a lot of good quality second-hand kits out there, and if you shop wisely, neither your child nor others will know it is not new. The protection and safety of your child are vitally important, so do not skimp on quality.
12. Enter competitions.
Once your child is about 10 years old, you will find that a variety of competition opportunities present themselves. The best thing to do is to expose your child to competitive motorsports as soon as they are ready. The more comfortable your child becomes competing with others, the more confident he/she will be, and that leads to future career prospects.
Expose Your Child to Motorsports the Right Way
In my opinion, there is a right and a wrong way to get your child into motorsports. If it seems like you are pushing your child or trying to live out your dreams through them, they will soon start to push back and shy away from it. It is better to create a fun introduction to the sport and let them make up their minds for themselves.
The next time there is a motorsport event in your area, take your children to watch. You never know what might come of it.