Attracting the attention and engagement of the younger generation is imperative for the future success of racing. With that in mind, IMCA is stepping up to the plate to do their part. The tenured sanction recently announced that their first junior national champion will be crowned in 2020.
Drivers between the ages of 13 and 18 in all eight IMCA divisions will compete for the title. The final point standings are scheduled to be based on the best 20 finishes in their first 40 starts.
The junior national champion will be given the same accolades as national champions in each of those divisions during the IMCA awards banquet in November. Additionally, the top point earner will receive a trophy, ring and jacket. Meanwhile, the Top-10 drivers in junior national champion point standings each receive $500 scholarships. These scholarships are applicable toward post-high school education in the first year of the program.
Scholarship funds will be paid when drivers register for their first year of higher education.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a while. This is a good time to get the junior national champion and scholarship fund established,” IMCA President Brett Root said. “It’s our way of helping build the sport and rewarding the participation of our youngest competitors.”
“They’ll be able to race for their own national championship and earn money to help pay for their post-secondary education,” he added. “Scholarships will not be based on a certain program or field of study. We see so many different occupations represented by our current membership that we don’t want to place any limits on scholarship recipients.”
To be eligible for the junior national championship, drivers must turn 14 by Aug. 31 and must not turn 19 before May 31.
“Selection of those dates allows 13-year-old drivers to compete for the majority of our weekly point season,” Root explained. “It also means drivers who turn 14 in September can still race four times and not lose rookie of the year status for the following season.”
It is important to note that no points will be awarded to non-IMCA members or to any driver who has not submitted a correct minor release form, nor will points be awarded retroactively.
The 2019 season saw 14 and 15-year-old drivers race to numerous IMCA national and regional rookie of the year titles, as well as track championships.
Individual scholarship funds will accumulate over multiple seasons and be paid out at one time.
“As other sanctions worry about changing divisional rules and simply start out-pricing the youngest racers the sport has to offer, we are going to focus on the things that matter, like engaging young racers in things they would actually benefit from,” Root said.
More information about the IMCA junior national champion and the accompanying scholarship fund will be announced.