The "Thrill" of the Race

Discussions on race planning, preparations and how to run a "fair" and fun race.
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The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by gpraceman » Sat Jul 05, 2003 6:49 pm

Here's a question that may be a bit controversial.

Does using times to determine the final standings take away from the "thrill" of the race? Does it take away from the fun of a race to worry about ten-thousandths of a second or does it make a race more fair? What are the pros and cons?
Last edited by gpraceman on Tue Jul 29, 2003 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Thrill

Post by Scoremaker » Mon Jul 14, 2003 2:29 pm

I think when running a pinewood derby race with a time system works out fair. Because it depends on how many lanes are on the track.If it has four lanes each scout can race one time one each lane.Total there time for the first heat.After every car has run take a lunch break,and run the second heat and total heat one and two togther.So each scout has race's eight times.When doing time system you don't have split each group up like Tigers,Bears,Wolfs,Weblos 1&2.What I mean about that is a Tiger can be racing Wolf or a Weblos.When doing a double elimination you lose two your out.I would rather race eight times then racing two times.A whole two months working on a car and be out in two heats. :cry: [/i]



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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:09 pm

Timers (clocks) are great for tuning up the cars. When the racing starts, turn them off!

Racing the clock requires that the participants trust the clocks and the knowledge ond thoroughness of the clock's operator. There are too many ways for the clocks to be compromised. Scouts and parents can be satisfied by their own observations that heat winners and even heat finish order are being called correctly. They have no chance to observe the correctness of clock timings.

If one can satisfy oneself of the clock's integrity, there are still issues. How are the times combined? Average or total of all runs? Exclude slowest and fastest runs? etc. As many do it, racing the clock puts a premium on consistency. One bad heat can put you "out of the money."


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by Scoremaker » Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:10 pm

Here's how times are combine.If you have a 3 or 4 lane track.
Each car runs on each lane you add all the times up.Even if you have a low time or a fast time.Just because you have one bad heat you still are not out of the money.Then run a second heat total add those time togther.
Now you just run a total of six times on a track that has three lanes and a total of eight times on a track that has four lanes.Add heat one and heat two times togther and you'll have combine times.Here is and Example for a three lane track.
Lane 1 Lane 2 Lane 3 Total time Avg Time Best Time Heat

2311 2288 2299 6898 2299 2288 1
2297 2292 2296 6885 2295 2292 2
13783
John R



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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by Stan Pope » Sat Jul 19, 2003 10:46 pm

Scoremaker wrote:Just because you have one bad heat you still are not out of the money.
Top cars' times tend to group close to the low time within a few thousandths of a second. A bad run costs hundredths of a second or more, and easily wipe out accumulated thousandths of a second advantages.

Early this year I commiserated with the dad of one such racer. His son had posted the low times of the day during early runs. A track fault loosened his front axle, but that was not detected by the adults who were racing the cars. The loosened front axle caused a run that was substantially slower than its average run. (A similar situation can happen if the car is poorly staged. I've seen this, too, when "impartial adults" stage the cars.) The car's owner caught the problem and repaired the car, restoring it to its earlier performance level, but the bad time was already logged and official. His 4th place finish (based on total times of all runs) was much lower than the 1st place that he and his car deserved.

By contrast, a Quadruple Elimination race or a PPN (Young and Pope charts) race would probably have placed this car 1st or 2nd, even with the bad run in the mix.

There's more than just timing issues in my sad story. They violated several of my ideals in conducting the races. But, the question remains, "What are the important aspects of picking the first place car? How important is consistency?"


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by gpraceman » Sat Jul 19, 2003 11:34 pm

Stan Pope wrote: There's more than just timing issues in my sad story. They violated several of my ideals in conducting the races. But, the question remains, "What are the important aspects of picking the first place car? How important is consistency?"
That is true. It depends on how you define the "fastest" car. It can be defined in many ways, like I believe you had mentioned in an earlier post. Of course, we can see many real world examples in sporting competitions where the "fastest" or "best" is determined in different ways.

To me, it is the consistency over the course of a race that determines the fastest car. It is more of a challenge to perform at a top level heat after heat, since there are many variables that can affect a car's performance over the course of a race. It shows a well designed car and the skill of the racer in racing it (assuming it is the racer handling the car and not the race staff).

With any definition that an organization choses to employ, the organization has the responsibility to put procedures in place to make sure that racing conditions are kept consistent throughout the race so they do not end up determining who won the race. With our pack race this last year, the start gate operator did not consistently drop the gate (partly the fault of a poor design of the Piantedosi start gate), which I believe cost my son first place and a chance to go to the district race.


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Jul 20, 2003 7:25 am

gpraceman wrote:To me, it is the consistency over the course of a race that determines the fastest car. It is more of a challenge to perform at a top level heat after heat, since there are many variables that can affect a car's performance over the course of a race. It shows a well designed car and the skill of the racer in racing it (assuming it is the racer handling the car and not the race staff).

With our pack race this last year, the start gate operator did not consistently drop the gate (partly the fault of a poor design of the Piantedosi start gate), which I believe cost my son first place and a chance to go to the district race.
Consider the 2-car race:
Car 1 Car2
2.500 2.503
2.501 2.504
2.510 2.500
2.499 2.502

Car 1 won 3 of the 4 heats. Total elapsed times (ET) comparison placed Car 1 in second place by 0.001 seconds.

The 3rd heat is an anomaly, i.e. there is a high probability that something unusual happened to car 1 in the 3rd heat, very possibly not the fault of the skill of Racer 1 or the quality of Car 1.

Whatever happened escaped the notice of the racers and the officials.

As an organizer, I can't, after the fact, decide to rerun the 3rd heat. I could, before the races, decide to omit some fraction of the heats, e.g. drop the high and low 1/4 if each racer's times. Or, I could decide, before the races, that "consistency" is winning the majority of the heats.

On the last quoted paragraph (continuing the slightly off-topic thought) ... I ran a survey a few years ago that showed that district/council race participation peaked when about 4 racers represented each pack in each racing category. I would like to repeat that survey with more formality and better statistical control, but I wouldn't expect the results to differ greatly.

As an organizer for district or council races my #1 goal is not to find and reward the fastest cars. My goal is to provide a program that serves as many members as possible.

A "somewhat selective" participation criterion appears to energize the participation in the district / council races and energize participation in the unit races.

The boys of your district could be better served.


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by gpraceman » Sun Jul 20, 2003 10:39 am

Stan Pope wrote:On the last quoted paragraph (continuing the slightly off-topic thought) ... I ran a survey a few years ago that showed that district/council race participation peaked when about 4 racers represented each pack in each racing category. I would like to repeat that survey with more formality and better statistical control, but I wouldn't expect the results to differ greatly.

As an organizer for district or council races my #1 goal is not to find and reward the fastest cars. My goal is to provide a program that serves as many members as possible.

A "somewhat selective" participation criterion appears to energize the participation in the district / council races and energize participation in the unit races.

The boys of your district could be better served.
The point I was trying to make was that regardless of how you define the fastest, if other factors, beyond the control of the racers, are not controlled (like start gate operation) by the race procedures and staff, they may end up determining who is fastest, not the cars and the racers.

This was the first year in scouts for my two boys (a Tiger and a Wolf) and we got a late start on the year, so I didn't want to jump in and try to run the pack race. Next year I'll volunteer to coordinate it and address the procedures and communication issues, so hopefully things like start gate operation will not determine the winners.

P.S.
It would be great if our council race (it is a combined district/council race) would allow the packs to send more than one representative. They only use one 8 lane track, so I believe that is why they limit it to one participant. It is the Desert Pacific Council race, run by Larry Bosworth (Pinewood Derby SuperSite), so I had the pleasure of meeting him at the race.


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:55 am

Hmmm... How many scouts compete in the racing event at your council races?


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by gpraceman » Mon Jul 21, 2003 9:30 am

Stan Pope wrote:Hmmm... How many scouts compete in the racing event at your council races?
I'm not sure off hand. I believe that it is 11 districts and it takes the good portion of the day. Fortunately they coincide it with our Scout Fair, so there are other things to do and see inbetween the racing.

I do believe that the pack that actually owns the track does rent it out quite often during racing season, so the track is availble, but then you have to deal with the cost of renting and trying to schedule it.

But we digress...


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by glaforge » Fri Aug 29, 2003 10:07 pm

Let's assume for a moment that a racer is going to have a bad race. Maybe because the car was placed on the start gate improperly, or as you said ealier, there was a fault in the track. The impact of that bad race could be felt either way. The timer needs no explaination. However, with using the place finishing method, we cannot assume that racer would have finished in the same place. That bad race could have moved him down a position in his own heat. Creating just the negative impact we don't want.

Of the 60 kids in my last PW, I had but 1 parent that disagreed with using the total times. After the race was over, he was singing a different tune. His son got to race 8 times and see a place finish each of those 8 times. The overall finish was (and will be as long as I am around) was icing on the cake.

To furhter my point about things off the track (sportmanship) being every bit as important, we gave away trophies the same size as the first place finishers to who our den leaders voted as the sportmanship winners.

There were very few dry eye's as each of the den leaders told stories of why the selected racer won the sportmanship trophy (One because he consoled a friend that wasn't doing very well, another becuase he loaned a buddy his shirt so he could get his picture taken in uniform, and so on). I'll even bet that every one of those boy's parents were more proud of their son for winning that than they would have been for having the fastest car.

Finally, there is no subsitute for defining "the fastest car", before the race has started. If you use a timer, let the kids know that their car is must last the entire race. You will never get everybody to agree on how it should be measured (even you two don't agree), so, pick a method an go with it. For all it's faults, its only a race!


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by KLenort » Sun Jan 25, 2004 11:47 pm

I'm a NASCAR fan, and in NASCAR it's always been (until 2004) that the "Most Consistent" driver wins the championship. A driver can have an engine blow up or a tire blow at any time ..... and thats all part of racing. It can happen to any driver at any given day. I think the same should apply in PW derbies. We are trying a timed system for the first time this year and plan to award the fastest average drivers the top awards. The other reason timers are great is that it allows equal participation for all the scouts, and not just added fun or excitement for scouts who had their dad build them a winning racer. :mrgreen:



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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Jan 25, 2004 11:54 pm

KLenort wrote:I'm a NASCAR fan, and in NASCAR it's always been (until 2004) that the "Most Consistent" driver wins the championship. A driver can have an engine blow up or a tire blow at any time ..... and thats all part of racing. It can happen to any driver at any given day. I think the same should apply in PW derbies. We are trying a timed system for the first time this year and plan to award the fastest average drivers the top awards. The other reason timers are great is that it allows equal participation for all the scouts, and not just added fun or excitement for scouts who had their dad build them a winning racer. :mrgreen:
Lets examine the analogy: Is the NASCAR "chapionship" determined in one day of racing? I thought that it was based on a consistent season of racing, including dozens of events. A blown engine may cost him a race, but not cost him the championship.

How many days of racing does a Cub Scout have during his typical racing season?

Look more deeply! Your analogy argues more for points system than for timed races.


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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by KLenort » Mon Jan 26, 2004 12:03 am

gpraceman wrote: To me, it is the consistency over the course of a race that determines the fastest car. It is more of a challenge to perform at a top level heat after heat, since there are many variables that can affect a car's performance over the course of a race. It shows a well designed car and the skill of the racer in racing it (assuming it is the racer handling the car and not the race staff).
My point was in response to gpraceman. Things can happen in each individual heat. My anology compares a heat to a NASCAR race. We purchased a 4-lane track for a Pack of 45 so we can get more racing for each scout.



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Re: The "Thrill" of the Race

Post by Cory » Mon Jan 26, 2004 9:16 am

Stan Pope wrote: Consider the 2-car race:
Car 1 Car2
2.500 2.503
2.501 2.504
2.510 2.500
2.499 2.502
Hmmm...these are very consistent results, even with the one anomaly. Much more consistent than what you'll find at the WIRL races posted here:

http://www.concentricks.com/wirl/BC-news-2.htm

Stan, your anomalous result is actually a "very tight" time by WIRL standards. Look closely at the WIRL results and you'll see that many of the times for the same car/lane combinations vary by hundreds of a second, sometimes even tenths of a second. This is equivalent to inches and feet of distance at the finish line, respectively.

And this is with no kids around to jostle the track -- only adults who are, presumably, being very careful. This is on a BestTrack track with a spring-loaded starting gate. Is all of this variation due to the cars?

I guess my real question is this: Has anyone out there actually validated that they can, in repeatable fashion, maintain a consistent racing environment for timing across 20 or 40 races?

The WIRL results are the only complete time trial race results I've seen so far. It would be nice if more people could post some complete results and we could examine the merits of this method more closely.



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