The USLMRA is faced with several issues every year, but there is one issue that is always prevalent: participation. We have taken a long hard look at this issue and while the economy is largely to blame for lower numbers across the board, there are a few things we can do to help bolster participation now, and when the economy recovers our sport will be better for it.
Currently, our youth are limited to 2 restricted classes JP and GP. While starting out in one of these classes may “feed the need” at first, today’s youth has proven to tire quickly of restricted class racing and the desire to compete at higher levels soon develops.
All over this great nation of ours, there are teenagers (13-19) racing at high levels of motorsports competition on both the local and national levels. Many of these younger racers have been competing since a young age the and by the time they reach their early teens, they already have several years of experience under their belt. The USLMRA needs to embrace this critical demographic in order to grow our sport. These racers will turn elsewhere to find what they need.
Individuals turning to Lawn Mower Racing from other motorsports disciplines are intrigued by the flashiest, fastest, loudest machines we have, but when they look into what it takes to get involved they find they can’t race in those classes because they need to race in a slower class first. These experienced racers don’t want to hear that they can’t handle the speed and horsepower of a racing lawn mower, especially when they have been racing high horsepower machines all of their lives. These racers will also turn elsewhere to find what they need.
The USLMRA Testing and Licensing program can alleviate both issues outlined above.
Driver(s) should contact the Race Day Chief Steward, prior to an LC/AC or National event, and notify them if his/her intent to “test” for the desired class during their upcoming event.
Based on resources for that event, the Chief Steward would either allow or deny the request. Chief Stewards have a lot on their plate on race day, if they can get time and resources scheduled to do a test for a racer they will be urged to do so, but not required.
Once a request to test is granted, the driver will present him/herself (and the machine on which to be tested) to the Race Day Chief Steward before registration, this serves a reminder to the Chief Steward to corral at least 3 other drivers in that class to help with the test, and gives the Chief Steward an opportunity to size up the driver.
Testing will take place at a time selected by the Race Day Chief Steward contingent upon factors including Race Day schedule, track conditions, weather, etc. Note, Testing may take place before Tech and Registration opens on Race Day morning or may be necessary the evening before Race Day. The racer may take hot laps alone, with other drivers or in a racing configuration at the discretion of the Race Day Chief Steward.
- Part #1 – The driver will be observed for no less than 3 laps under green flag alone.
Observers may be the Chief Steward and at least 3 other drivers from the class being tested into. This step in the process is to ensure that the racer has a firm grasp of the basics of lawn mower racing and that driver and machine are safe to be on the track at no risk to anyone else.
- Part #2 – If the observation staff (majority) vote to allow, the testing racer will make no less than 3 more laps on track with the 3 drivers mentioned above.
This step of the process is to ensure that the racer has the ability to control his demeanor and machine under simulated race conditions.
- Part #3 – If the observation staff (majority) vote to allow, the testing racer can compete in that class immediately.
- Part #4 – Notification of test results will be sent to USLMRA office following the event.
If the testing racer passes all parts of testing he/she will immediately possess a class license for the first year (or a predetermined number of races). If there are no incidents during the first or if a Probationary Period is instituted, the license may become permanent after that first year.
- Racers may only test once per event.
- Racers must provide mower for testing (of appropriate class).
- Racers may only test for a class they have a class legal machine for (i.e. you cannot test for FX on a BP)
- All racers having competed in the 2011 Season will be issued licenses based on those classes said racer competed in during the 2011 season.
USLMRA believes that if we use the Licensing Program in this way, we can give those racers that want it, an opportunity to race at higher levels, in a safe and controlled manor.
We also believe that the vast majority of racers in this situation will abide by the decision of the Testing Board.
Jr. Pro. License Qualifying:
The purpose of the Jr. Pro License is to allow experienced Jr. Races a method to move up in class to faster classes. Only Classes allowed to move up to are IMOW, GP, AP, SP, CP and FX/Single, not BP, FX or FX/T.
Testing procedures as outlined in Section 1 above will be followed. Additional requirements:
- Parents Signature of Release and Approval.
- 16 years of age by December 31st of the race year and have or obtain a Valid Drivers License from the State of Residence.
- If 15 years of age, Racer must have a Valid Drivers Learners Permit from the State of Residence and obtain Drivers License when s/he turns 16 years of age of that race year.
- 15 yr old drivers can test for IMOW, GP, AP, SP, CP and FX/Single only, not BP, FX or FX/T.
- A minimum of one (1) year racing experience in the Jr.’s class, J/P or G/PK and have raced more than 12 Competitive Events races the year. Definition of a Competitive Event: On any given Race Day you have at least one (1) heat and one (1) main. That equals two (2) Competitive Events. Two (2) heats and one (1) main = three (3) Competitive Events. 12 will add up quick. In other words heats and mains count toward the 12 required Competitive Events. The goal is seat time.
- Allowed to be tested on Rules of Racing, such as Flags and passing.
- To be tested in the class desired to class into, by at least 2 staff members picked by USLMRA Executive Staff
It is recommended that this procedure be followed across all levels of USLMRA Lawn Mower Racing, A/C’s L/C’s US Open Series and the STA-BIL Nationals and that all racers age 15 years and under stay in classes that have governed engine controls until they meet these criteria. All Guidelines and Approvals must come from our either USLMRA Southern Office (Wilmer, Alabama, Kerry Evans) or Central Office (Northbrook, Illinois, Bruce Kaufman) for Final Approval.
*Note: If Racer has special reasons why they cannot obtain a valid State Issued Drivers License, and it is a non-criminal matter, they can contact either USLMRA Office and discuss.
Example: The State requires a driving course before a driving test can be given and the waiting list Is 6 months. We can talk about it on your intentions. A birth certificate will be needed to verify age.
Future Considerations & Possibilities
In the future, the terms Rookie, Veteran and Pro may be removed from the Licensing Scheme as we realize they are somewhat confusing and, with the above changes may no longer be valid. This will be evaluated during the 2012 season.
A Probationary Period may be instituted in the future. Once testing has been completed and a racer has been approved to race in a given class that racer will receive a 1-year probationary permit to race in that class. If that driver completes that first year (or set number of races) without incident the racer will receive a class specific license. If the driver cannot complete a probationary year (or set number of races) without incident, the driver will need to be re-evaluated and may be required to serve a second probationary year (or set number of races) to receive a class license. Drivers holding a class license may be placed on probation. Written consideration could be placed in writing, electronic or otherwise, by a Race Day Chief Steward and submitted to the USLMRA for review and approval.
- Attraction of new racers that may not have considered racing with the USLMRA because of participation restrictions will now have an opportunity to test into their desired class without having to race in a less desired class first.
- Youth driver retention: Racers that have become complacent with current class offerings will be afforded an opportunity to move into faster classes and remain challenged at a controlled and safe rate.
Possible class structure consolidation/management – The issuance of a license with endorsements per desired class, eliminates the need for class divisions based on age, ie GP-K vs GP, with the exception of JP. The age requirements for JP could remain intact to provide an opportunity for our youngest drivers to cut their teeth among like age/ability type racers.