The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced today it was implementing a Learner’s Permit License for its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks beginning in 2010.
The license will lower the age-limit for NASCAR-sanctioned tracks’ entry-level division from 16-years-old to 14. The change provides an intermediate step for young drivers looking to make the move from non-NASCAR beginner-level racing series to running at their NASCAR home track.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for its more than 55 sanctioned short tracks across North America. More than 10,000 drivers compete in the series annually.
“The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series includes most of the best organized, professionally run, family-friendly racetracks in North America,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “There are no better venues for the next generation of racing talent to gain real-world experience. NASCAR is approaching this in a responsible manner, providing young drivers an opportunity to learn their craft in suitable equipment.”
In 2007, NASCAR took a similar step with its touring series, lowering the minimum age from 18 to 16. Benefits for the series, teams and drivers were immediate. Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano, then 17, won the NASCAR Camping World Series East championship in 2007.
Ryan Truex, 17, is currently leading the NASCAR Camping World Series East points standings. Ryan Preece was 17 when he set the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour record for youngest winner at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last year, and Erick Rudolph, 17, eclipsed that mark this year. Also, 16-year-old Brett Moffitt broke Logano’s record for youngest race winner and pole winner in the NASCAR Camping World Series East this season.
The Learner’s Permit License will be limited to the track’s Charger Divisions – which are the track’s NASCAR-sanctioned support divisions.
The goal of the new initiative is to provide an opportunity for up-and-coming drivers to participate in a track’s NASCAR program and gain experience in lesser-powered race cars. All rights and benefits of a Charger license, including the NASCAR Participant Accident Insurance Coverage, will be extended to the Learner’s Permit License.
In addition, because many racing teams are made up of friends and family, the age adjustment will also extend to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series crew members.