Concerns about the District Race

Debates and discussions on the various race scheduling methods that can be used and their fairness and accuracy in determining the winners.
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dfscott
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Concerns about the District Race

Post by dfscott » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:28 am

I'm helping out our District Program Chair with this year's district derby. He's never done one before so with two whole years under my belt, I'm the "veteran". :nervous:

My big concern is that the race is this Saturday and we just figured out that the track we were provided doesn't have a timer. We finally found one with an electronic finish, but it's only order of finish and not time. Normally this would not be a problem, but he's already published the schedule, which has everyone showing up at the same time, and then doing 3 45-minute rounds. At the end of that time, he plans to award trophies by Cub Year. When I asked him how he planned to do that, he said he'll "figure it out somehow."

Anyone have any thoughts on any alternatives I could suggest? He's a pretty reasonable guy so I think if I can propose something, he would be okay with it. The trick is figuring out what to propose... :scratching:



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Darin McGrew
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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by Darin McGrew » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:31 am

How many cars do you expect in each round? How many places are you presenting for each round?

Are you familiar with Stan's quintuple elimination system?



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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by rpcarpe » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:56 am

So how did it turn out? Sounded like a serious problem


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Stan Pope
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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:18 pm

Your exteemed program chair has alotted barely enough time to run a timed race with the Cub Scouts as spectators, and has done so without knowing what his equipment will be. If it weren't for the Cub Scouts who would be disappointed, I'd walk away from his fiasco-in-the-making... quickly!

Surely in Atlanta there is at least one worthy track + electronics + computer + software that can be borrowed or rented for the day. Maybe the source would even bring along their expertise in running their software.

Sounds like your chairman has a few nights of "phone begging" ahead of him. Your DE can give him names and phone numbers for CubMasters in your district. If those fail, he adds more $ to his offer and gets names and phone numbers for Cub Masters in nearby districts.

QE won't run all the cars in one group and produce ranking by grade. And not in the time allocated for that event. Points probably won't do the job, either, if all run together, since the lesser skilled age groups will be mired in tied scores.


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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by dfscott » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:02 am

Thanks, all, for the replies.
Darin McGrew wrote:How many cars do you expect in each round? How many places are you presenting for each round?

Are you familiar with Stan's quintuple elimination system?
In talking with our District Commissioner, he says he's seen as few as 20 show up and as many as 100. We tried to pre-register, but that never works and we end up with a lot of boys just showing up with cars and we don't want to turn them away.

I am familiar with the quint-elim and I like it, but we've already published the rules (and the race is this Saturday) and as Stan mentioned, it won't allow free-for-all racing. If we had access to multiple tracks, we might be able to do a variation of the bubble sort method, but even that would require each heat to be the same age.

In case you're wondering, here's what we're planning: http://eastatlantabsa.org/pinewood/" target="_blank As you can see, there are a lot of open questions (what does "wins a race" mean on a multi-lane track. Is coming in 2nd considered a "loss"?)
Stan Pope wrote:Surely in Atlanta there is at least one worthy track + electronics + computer + software that can be borrowed or rented for the day. Maybe the source would even bring along their expertise in running their software.
Our Pack doesn't have one, but we have a nice one that we borrow every year. I had hoped to use it, but it turns out that they are running their Pack derby the same day as the district! (Yes, our district has some issues.)

Our DE thought he had a timer located, but it fell through at the last minute. One of the problems we're running into is that the CC, the DE, and the Program Chair are all new to their roles, so there's a lot of the "blind leading the blind".

We're having a District Committee Meeting this tomorrow night and my wife is the District Committee Chair. I've told her my concerns, so hopefully she can light a fire under some folks and get this straightened out (I'd attend myself but I have SALT training that night -- too many irons in the fire!).



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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:26 pm

Sounds like your derby chairman has a few nights of "phone begging" ahead of him. Your DE can provide names and phone numbers for CubMasters in your district. If those fail, the derby chair adds more $ to his offer and gets names and phone numbers for Cub Masters in nearby districts.


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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by rpcarpe » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:24 am

Good Luck! You're going to need it.

We have a new derby chair here in Huntsville, we'll see how it goes this Saturday.


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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by Stan Pope » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:42 pm

Well, it is Thursday afternoon. There are less than 48 hours before the event begins. Still no track with timer and software, apparently, and no prospects.

It is time for some hard choices.

It appears that you have these alternatives.
1. Cancel the event, because it can not be held as advertised. Refund all the registration fees.
2. Alter the event in a way that it can be held but not exactly as advertised.
I don't see any others short of a miracle!

#1 is, in my mind, a non-starter. Your DE takes a big hit from his bosses if the council has to refund $ it has collected! Your leadership takes a big hit for the total failure. The event takes a big hit in its ability to be successful next year.

#2 requires a quick survey of a) the equipment available and b) the space available. How many tracks with "finish order" electronics can you gather NOW, and how many can you fit into the space available?

Assuming more than one track available, divide the groups of racers onto the tracks in some sane fashion, e.g. if you can put up 2 tracks, a total of 100 racers registered, and the breakdown of registrants is: Tiger 25, Wolf 22, Bear 31, Webelos 23, assign the Tiger and Wolf groups to one track with one set of awards without regard to whether Tiger or Wolf were the winners, and the Bear and Webelos to the other track with a separate set of awards. Probably not a good idea to put Tiger and Webelos groups together, though.

Run the competition with whatever system you can deliver. I would do a Triple or Quadruple Elimination on each track, but I and people available to me already know how to do that. Otherwise, consider a final standings heat points race. In either case, give 1st through 3rd or 4th place trophies on each track without regard to the rank of the recipients. More trophies would salve the hurt from not having individual rank trophies.


Stan
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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by gpraceman » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:53 pm

David,

I know that you used GPRM for your pack race. Is GPRM being used for this race as well?


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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by dfscott » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:19 am

Randy-

You're right, and I offered to let him use my laptop that I used for our race which has GPRM (hope that's not a licensing issue, but I felt this was extenuating circumstances). However, he said he already had something "worked out." (And I mentioned it in the other thread, but I've gotten tons of kudos from parents and den leaders on how smoothly GPRM worked for our Pack event -- thanks again!).

So here's the status currently as of Friday morning:

I ran into our DE when I was at the Service Center yesterday and he told me that he was able to secure a 4-lane track with an electronic timer that records actual times. My wife (the District CC) met with the Program Chair last night. He now feels that with the track and elapsed time finish, he can make a timed race work. We currently only have 7(!) total boys registered, but apparently there are often lots of walk-ins. I hope so, otherwise we're going to have a lot of extra trophies.

At this point, I've been asked to just step back and let him run with it, only stepping in if he get's stuck. I'll be at the event to offer assistance in case it starts to go down in flames.

Thanks again, everyone, for your help and I'll let you know how it goes!

-David



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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by gpraceman » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:58 am

dfscott wrote:You're right, and I offered to let him use my laptop that I used for our race which has GPRM (hope that's not a licensing issue, but I felt this was extenuating circumstances).
If the software is registered to your pack, a representative of your pack would need to run the software to be in compliance with the license. The software cannot be lent/rented out in any form.
dfscott wrote:I ran into our DE when I was at the Service Center yesterday and he told me that he was able to secure a 4-lane track with an electronic timer that records actual times. My wife (the District CC) met with the Program Chair last night. He now feels that with the track and elapsed time finish, he can make a timed race work.
Hopefully, they test out the timer communications ASAP. There are several things that can go wrong with timer communications and there is precious little time to get things resolved.


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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by dfscott » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:42 am

gpraceman wrote: If the software is registered to your pack, a representative of your pack would need to run the software to be in compliance with the license. The software cannot be lent/rented out in any form.
I understand -- if they'd used it, I would've been the one running it, so it sounds like we would be in compliance with the EULA.

But it turns out that someone from the unit they are borrowing the track from is coming as well with their own software (not sure what brand) so they're covered there as well.



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Concerns about the District Race - Outcome

Post by dfscott » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:13 am

Post-race update

Well, it all came together at the end. We had someone from another district show up with a 4-lane super track w/ a SuperTimer II with all the bells and whistles. Racing was done by lane-rotation and ranking was some variant of elapsed time. One of our Scoutreach Packs had some cars that needed a lot of work to be competitive (i.e., cars at registration weighing 2-3 oz and no graphite at all), but since a lot of adults from my Pack were there, people jumped in and helped them out. All the boys seemed to have a good time.

It was hard to tell exactly what form of racing was used, but everyone was thrown into one pool (include some siblings and adults) and I think each racer got one run down each lane in the preliminary round. He then took the top 8 Cubs (which happened to be all Wolves and Webelos) for the trophy round and had them race again (not sure why).

General Thoughts:

- Running by elapsed time seemed to confuse some of the boys. They couldn't understand why they weren't doing well in the standings when they won most of their heats (against slower cars).
- The younger boys really liked being able to start the race with the start gate solenoid.
- While the SuperTimer software worked, it was hard for the boys to see, even being projected on the screen. Not sure if that was user error or just that it doesn't support the giant fonts.
- The synthesized voice was cool at first, but quickly got annoying. The announcements of first, second, etc., didn't mean much when it was by lane. I preferred having an MC actually announce the winner of each race by name.
- The height of the track made it impossible for the boys to stage their own cars. Our adult starter did his best, but standing at the finish line, a couple of times I noticed cars being slightly askew. (The aluminum Best Track we used for our Pack race was very easy for the boys to reach without assistance.)

But overall, it was very fun. Of course, I'm slightly biased since my son took home the Grand Champion trophy and best Webelos Design. ;)



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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:10 am

So, next phase is, "What has your district's leadership learned from this experience that will make next year better?"


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Re: Concerns about the District Race

Post by rpcarpe » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:53 am

Glad to hear it all came together.

- When kids stage their cars, we put steps up/down, so they can stage their cars (starter supervises).
- I think SuperTimer does a 'dynamic scheduling' so the racing appears closer, but EMCEE still needs to continuously announce the importance of elapsed times. We had a Cub win all four of his heats, took 5th overall from 144 cars.


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