i believe age doesnt matter when it comes to handling a racecar if the kid can prove that he has the ability. i do think that if a young kid were to get hurt, there would be a chitstorm from the insurance companies and media and that could be real bad for the sport. when gordon started racing sprints and came to eldora at 14, they were not gonna let him race till jack hewitt stepped up and said the kid could drive....and we all know the outcome of that senario.
but what if a kid shows up at the local track after daddy spent big money to get the best stuff and the kid cant drive a drunk to the liquor store? or wrecks someone else and gets them hurt? does daddy get told that his kid sux and bring him back in a few years?
my thoughts are that if someone shows up with a very young driver, the team would have to come out, rent the track and show that he can get around with only him on the track. if he is accepted by management and a few drivers, he can come race but be on probation for 4 weeks and have to start in the back.
if he gets thru that, he can race and be handicapped like everyone else for his starting position.
if he cant handle any of it and screws up, dad either parks the car for a while, gets another driver or sells out and buys a car the kid can handle.
I agree that there is some point where either maturity or simple physical ability (strength, reactions, dexterity) should be a concern for a young driver. The problem is that kids grow up at different rates. The bright side is that with a young kid, everybody knows to be aware, and the kid will be watched closely.
I think that if I were a racer, I'd be less worried about Daddy's dollars buying a ride for the kid, and the kid proving to not be up to it, than I would be if Daddy's bucks bought the ride for Daddy himself, and him not proving to be ready. The kid you know to watch, and if the worst happens, nobody will object to telling the kid "come back when you're older." It's much harder to tell an adult "come back when you're ready", I would think, because nobody wants to be the one to decide who is "ready" among adult newbies, and who isn't.