Advice For New Racing Parents- Safety #1
Real World Advice From Parents
Advice from Nikki Marks mother of Makala Marks, www.MakalaMarksRacing.org:
My experience in the beginning. First thing that comes to my mind is not taking a cheap way out when it comes to safety. You can cut corners on other things but not protection for your child. Get a top of the line helmet that can handle a hit. MAKE SURE IT FITS PROPERLY. Have it professionally sized and then you, the parent double check to make sure you agree. After my daughter flipped & rolled in her Kart and her helmet came off in the process, I can't express this enough. I took someone's word, the so called professional, that it was the proper size but we found out the hard way it was not. I picked the helmet up off the ground and I found it was still strapped tightly but had somehow been pulled off her head. My daughter was luckily not injured as badly as we thought from the look of the blood she was losing but it could have been tragic. Luckily a few stitches, a couple black eyes, road rash, some scars on her face, and a pile of medical bills, is all the resulted from her helmet coming off. The Impact helmet did its job and took the initial hit that saved her from a head injury but if only it was the right fit it would have never come off and she would have got up and walked away instead of being rushed to the ER. Make sure you use all the safety devises properly and use them every time your child goes on the track, even if your just out practicing with the track to yourself. I have found not all neck collars, rib vest, helmets, ect.., work together well. You may have to try a couple different styles or brands before you find the proper fit. You don't want anything pushing up on the helmet and you want your child safe and comfortable.
Advice from Jim Howe, Owner of Jim Howe Motorsports:
One part of karting I liked is the safety aspect. To me, four wheels are safer than two and at least with a kart, you do have some driver protection due to bodywork, bars, etc. Plus, kart drivers wear real safety equipment including the helmet, neck brace, rib protector, and racing suit. I always tell parents to buy used stuff but never to scrimp on the helmet. Always buy a new helmet and get the most you can afford. Karting has a very good safety record and most clubs and tracks have insurance and must meet a fairly stringent set of safety requirements. You never eliminate the risk, however, and I always caution my drivers, their parents, and anybody else than there is danger involved. You have to accept that or racing in any form is just not for you!
Advice from Greg Erb father of Kendahl Erb, www.KendahlRacing.com:
I am a father of a 6 year old 2013 dirt kart racer. The first thing that comes to mind as most parents would is safety. The average parent can go on for a long time about safety gear but I will try to sum it up quickly. I use the gear that works best, not what I read about. Never use the cheap gear. Ask your fellow drivers where they got there gear and how do they like it.
Most crew chiefs and drivers are the "hands on .. need professional " type of person. If the set up works use it. Tweak it later if needed. What I think is most important about safety for my child and racing is her mental status. Kids have to be interested and not forced. It may be bad to say but I will find out (if she wants to continue)after she hits the hay bales if she brushes herself off and gets back behind the wheel. If she has the focus needed to race I feel more comfortable putting her behind the wheel. When I feel more comfortable I can focus on her kart performance and what is needed to address. I boldly push the fact the racing is supposed to be fun.. NOT a buisness. I personally feel if you kid(s) are pushed too hard. The same thing will happen to your kid as anything you race, slips out of control and nothing good comes out of it, praying nobody gets hurt. Yes racing is a luxury and a sport but school is priority.. Honor roll is a must for my girl if she wants to race. If she cant focus on school performance.. She can't focus on the track performance. My daughter is my world. I dont want her to get hurt. I grew up with bruises and cuts just like everyone else in this world. I understand the seriousness of racing.. I also understand my daughter can break a leg riding her bike or falling out of a tree. It's life.. Enjoy it. Play it safe but don't wrap your kid in bubble wrap and stick them in a glass box.
Advice from Gary Truemner father of Victorya Truemner:
I always reccomend a good helmet and a karting suit. Not a fire suit but something that is skid proof. Most important item other than helmet for young karts is a good chest protector. Victorya wears an armadillo which is not cheap but provides great protection to chest and sides. Neck braces should be wedge style or some of the newer 360 devise. Good safety stuff is not cheap but it's the most important thing you'll ever buy to protect your most important person in the world your child! All of these items we buy from Turk bros racing and American power sports. Our gloves we wear motocross gloves they seem to offer more protection than karting gloves.
Image above from: http://www.go-kart-source.com