Wood tracks, uneven lanes and tie-breakers

Discussions on race planning, preparations and how to run a "fair" and fun race.
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Wood tracks, uneven lanes and tie-breakers

Post by Hurly64 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 5:32 pm

My Webelo Avery's car did extremely well last night. He went undefeated all the way to the finals, where he raced head-to head w/ a Wolf. After switching back & forth between lanes 2 & 3 for four races, they were still even at 2-2. It was a 3-lane wooden track, and it was apparent that lane 2 was the choice lane to be in after watching their cars switch victories over a margin of a 1/2 inch 4 times. Early on in the races, lane 1 had problems with some cars flying off of the track at the joints. Avery's car was not affected by this in his earlier heats. For the tie-breaking heat, they drew straws for 1st choice of lanes, and the Wolf prevailed. Avery had the choice of choosing lane 3, where he lost to Wolf twice already, or lane 1, the potential missile launcher. He chose lane 1 at first(a smart move, I thought), and then moved his car back to lane 3 after hearing some kids in the background tell him not to do it. Of course, the Wolf prevailed in lane 2.
Out of curiosity, I had the boys race again after the awards, this time w/ Avery's car in lane 1. The electronic finish line declared a tie!
(It was a Microwizard lightbulb finish line, no timer. On-first, blinking-second, third, off.)

Either way it would have gone, I hope he's learned a valuable life lesson-to go with your gut instinct rather than what others tell you :|
I could tell he was a little frustrated at the outcome, but after getting the medal he got over it, kept a good attitude and realized he still had fun.

I read with some interest the thread on tie breakers, and it seems the general consensus is that the car's results should determine the tie-breaker, rather than any luck of the draw or last-minute choices by the cub. If anyone has any more thoughts on this, and how this particular situation was handled, I'd be interested. It seems to me that we would have been there all night had we kept going.

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Re: Wood tracks, uneven lanes and tie-breakers

Post by RMoose » Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:16 pm


Glad to hear you and your son had fun, but sorry about the way things were handled.

I know of a local group which had a similar situation come up a few years ago - two cars very evenly matched, each winning when alternating lanes. In their case, they did keep going until one car eventually won two races back-to-back. I think the race coordinator told me they ran a total of 20 races before that happened! Yikes! What do you say to the boy who lost that contest? Just wait til next year just doesn't seem adequate!

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Re: Wood tracks, uneven lanes and tie-breakers

Post by pwdarchitect » Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:31 pm

My son last year had this happen to him for the finals to see who would win second place. The race was run on a 6 lane track so it was the 2 cars which were tied with the same amount of points since this is how the places were determined at the end of all of the heats. 1st place got 3 points, 2nd got 2 points, third was 1 point and 4th thru 6 place 0 points. At the end of the heats, there was a tie for second with a total of like 15 points. The two cars were put head to head on the outside lanes first, one race each to see if anyone would win 2 in a row. Tie again each car had won one race each. Then they moved to the next lane in, and did it all over again. Two races and see who one both in each lane. Tie again. Now finally the cars were moved to the inward most lanes and run in 2 races. Then my son wound up losing both races and took third to the car who he beat for first in the Weblos division. This was real exciting for all who were in attendance but still don't know if this was a good way to do it.

I think that if your son had a good time and is proud of the car and himself then that is the key. Success can be take take many forms and with the way your story read then his success comes from being a good "sport" and doing what the spirit of pinecar racing is supposed to instill in the kids.


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Re: Wood tracks, uneven lanes and tie-breakers

Post by Stan Pope » Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:08 am

Decde, in concert with the race committee, how ties will be handled. Communicate the plan in some fashion, e.g. by posting the details where folks can read them. Then, if the situation arises, pull the plan off the wall and follow it.

Considerations for the plan:

Some ties need not be broken. Such as Who gets which trophy? If the track can not differentiate between cars, then the racers should get equivalent trophies. If it were a tie for 2nd-3rd, then take that 3rd place trophy back to the shop and get it upgraded to look just like a 2nd place trophy! (Some folks, e.g. the 4th place finisher, might try to convince you to award the 3rd place trophy to them, since that is the next step after 2nd place. You can do that, but a 4th place trophy more accurately represents their accomplishment, since 3 racers finished ahead of them.)

Other ties must be broken. Such as which car represents that pack at district or council races.

Head to head alternating lanes is a fair way to try. But if the track can not differentiate between cars (and you don't have electronic timing), you can try to measure the difference in winning margins. Unbiased judges might be asked to visually measure the finish line separation between two cars. Some error can be removed by having each judge mark the separation between two cars on a piece of paper. e.g. length of a pencil line. Gather the papers. Then judge the next heat same way on a new piece of paper. Gather the papers, separate by judges, and compare the line lengths (racer separations). Majority rules. (Ideally, the judges have good "spatial cognition" ... maybe mech engr or draftsmen?)

Still, if the tie must be broken and the prize can not be shared, it must be awarded in some fair fashion. True random chance is fair... whether it be drawing for lane or just a coin flip to determine which will represent.

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Re: Wood tracks, uneven lanes and tie-breakers

Post by gpraceman » Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:42 pm

Hurly64 wrote:(It was a Microwizard lightbulb finish line, no timer. On-first, blinking-second, third, off.)
While it may not display race times, this is a timer. If hooked to a computer, compatible race management software would be able to read the times. That does allow for the possibility of running a timed race instead of one based on finish order, which greatly reduces the chances of getting a tie. That assumes your pack is open to running a timed race and your track's start gate can consistently snap open.

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Awana Grand Prix and Pinewood Derby racing - Where a child, an adult and a small block of wood combine for a lot of fun and memories.

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