First time running the Race

Discussions on race planning, preparations and how to run a "fair" and fun race.
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coalminer78
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First time running the Race

Post by coalminer78 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:51 pm

I will be running the Logan County Pinewood Derby Race this year. My first time. I have Philip Hamm out of Bloomington handling the track and computer part, so that should run smooth. He did a good job last year for the other pack that hosted it. My question is what should I watch for? What have you guys forget or overlook? What details are easy overlooked for a first timer? I want this to be a great, fun event for all the kids.



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Stan Pope
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Re: First time running the Race

Post by Stan Pope » Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:13 pm

coalminer78 wrote:I will be running the Logan County Pinewood Derby Race this year. My first time. I have Philip Hamm out of Bloomington handling the track and computer part, so that should run smooth. He did a good job last year for the other pack that hosted it. My question is what should I watch for? What have you guys forget or overlook? What details are easy overlooked for a first timer? I want this to be a great, fun event for all the kids.
Congrats!

Be sure to talk through all the plans with a few prior chairmen and ask them this same question! They can help assure that you maintain traditions so that participant expectations are satisfied. It will also help if rules and inspection process are communicated early and are consistent with prior years.

Communication with audience is important, as is their comfort. Many years ago here and still in an adjacent council, audience stood around a floor level track. Anyone farther back that the third rank of folks couldn't see much. Look for ways to communicate progress effectively without slowing progress. Similarly, try to keep racing moving at a good pace. Make sure that any significant delays are explained, especially if some of the race officials have to confer, are communicated.

Something that I've only seen in Wotamalo Rules and their derivitives is a description of the racing environment and conduct of the competition, although I've seen partial "conduct" issues described in other rules. I think that those are useful additions.

Some things I've seen that make me scratch my head ...

1. Racing head to head with results based on heat winner, not time: The heat timer registered a heat winner but identical times to three decimal places. The electronic results were consistent with observation, i.e. close, but a clear winner. The race official declared the heat a tie because of equal times and had it rerun. I don't think that the situation was covered in any prerace documentation. (Thankfully, it didn't occur in my district!)

2. Part way through our district races, all of the track staff gathered around the computer for five minutes or so, then continued the racing with no explanation. No racing status information (heat results or standings) had been communicated along the way. It left everyone wondering ...

I'm sure that others will add to the list ... :(


Stan
"If it's not for the boys, it's for the birds!"

Buckeyefan
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Re: First time running the Race

Post by Buckeyefan » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:03 pm

Coalminer78,
This is my second time around, and we got rave reviews last year. Here are some of the things that made it great:

1) We returned to the school gym, where there was plenty of room to set up over 150 chairs and standing room behind that. A row of chairs facing inward with racing banners draped around the backs separated the crowd from the track, pits, winner's circle, and computer/projector operator.
2) The den that is racing gets the reserved seats along the rail.
3) The track is set up on utility tables from the school. They are solid and fairly level. Shims and a careful job of levelling make for an even playing field.
4) Weigh-in the night before the race. Have plenty of experienced dads with tools to make every cub's car legal. The car that needs the most work to become legal gets the coveted "Golden Drill Award" which consists of a gold painted drill bit run through the gold car from the top of a PWD trophy and mounted on a plaque. It's always a big hit.
5) Awards for the top 3 in the den with a special "best effort" medal to the cub who really tried but didn't place. We leave this one up to the den leader. Some award it for the slowest car, the tough luck car that got dropped, or the kid whose dad is in Iraq and couldn't help this year. Done properly, it really picks up a cub who is feeling low. Also, everyone gets an "I did my best" ribbon.
6) Six categories for design: military, NASCAR, alien, Sports team, Cub theme, patriotic, Star wars, Spongebob, Craziest design, etc, anything you can think of. Also, a judges choice award and this year, a cub's choice award. (I got this idea from somewhere on DerbyTalk, THANKS!)
7) Roving teams of parents and Boy Scouts to police the bathrooms and keep the cubs out of the back hallways of the school. We had problems in these areas four years ago and lost the use of the school. We won't let that happen again.
8) Announcements before every den starts racing: "Remember, you are in school and school rules apply. I am your PWD chairman, please let me know what I can do to make this a safe and fun-filled day for the cubs."
9) Don't give yourself a job on race day if you can help it. Get other parents to work the pits, MC, get cubs to sell food etc. You need to be the roving troubleshooter. Enlist a few trusted moms to help you deal with issues on race day. (Moms seem to deal with issues in the school better than dads :)

That's all I can think of for now, I'll let you know if more comes to mind.

Buckeyefan



Guillermo
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Re: First time running the Race

Post by Guillermo » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:48 pm

This thread is over a year old and I have found myself to be in this position. I would love to see some more tips for first time PWD chairs.



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Re: First time running the Race

Post by dna1990 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:43 pm

The above lists are some great ones. There are lots of others scattered in other existing threads.

Did you have anything more specific to need to know about? It is sorta hard to know what might be applicable or new to your derby. Was there a derby program in place before? Did you attend past races, if so - how were they? Anything you would like to have changed? What size group do you have? Cub Scouts, AWANA, or other...?

But to a big degree, being a good PWD Chairman is not 100% about the race. Just being a good organizer and communicator is often enough. Find other volunteers to help you with the details, be they rules or building or raceday, etc.


So you can start high level. What is the goal of PWD to your group, and what does it mean to you? Is it another chore that is only better if you make in as painless and time efficient as possible. Or is it a highly (over) planned regimented affair with no flexibility or room for kids to be kids? Maybe somewhere in the middle, hopefully. What should the kids have a focus on? Healthy competitiveness? Sportsmanship? Craftsmanship? Time spent with their adult guide? Time spent with their peers/denmates? Showcase? Creativity?



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pack529holycross
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Re: First time running the Race

Post by pack529holycross » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:27 pm

Things to help the first time organizer:

1. Supplies - get a 9 dollar orange plastic 3 drawer storage cabinet with wheels from walmart. Use it for tape, pens, stapler, paper supplies, cords cables, connectors, tools, spare parts, etc. This will help keep things organized and visible on race day.

2. Black gaffers tape - taping down cords and cables is not only safe, but you want to avoid things being unplugged. Inadvertently, or pulled off a table onto the floor.

3. Make a checklist. And add to it as you think of things that have to be brought to race day. Refer back to your checklist throughout the week prior to the race. Start putting your supplies together that week. The more you have ready to load into your vehicle the day before the race. By the nigfht before you should be able to load your vehicle andrefer back to your checklist again. Trust me when I tell you this ... you will reduce your race day scrambling if you adhere to this habit.

4. Bring more than you think you need~ extra extension cords, rope, twine, powerstrips, a flashlight, utility knife, etc,,,, having something on hand rather than runningto the store keeps everyones stress levels down in an emergency. Ask others to bring extension cords, tape as backup supplies.

5. Give yourself built in time gaps in your "planned" raceday schedule. If you think it will only take 30 minutes for registration, "script" for 90. If you start registration late, you can still hit your benchmarks. You will need 45 minutes for cleanup. You will need 1 minute per award announced and given. So count your trophies. 30 trophies = 30 minutes. If you are running finals, you need 2 minutes per race x the number of finalists. 15 finalists = 30 minutes. A well run track can turn around heats in about a. Minute. 50 racers = 50 minutes of races , and any gap netween reg racing and finals... say 15 minutes. So.... say you have to be out of the venue by 2pm ... you need to complete the event at 1:15. You need to start giving out awards at 12:45. You will need to atart the finals by 12:15. You will need to start racing by 11am. You will need to start registration by 9. You will want to be in the venue at least 15-20 minutes to set up registration {jhaving access the night before rocks... as you can do so much more venue prep prior to race day ).
Remember to adjust these calculations based on the number of racers you have as well as awards.

Last recommendation in this post---- order pizza and have refreshments.... kids who are well fed are content and not grumpy... which makes content and not grumpy parents... which helps them forget they are there for more than 3 hours...



Guillermo
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Re: First time running the Race

Post by Guillermo » Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:34 am

dna1990 wrote: Did you have anything more specific to need to know about? It is sorta hard to know what might be applicable or new to your derby. Was there a derby program in place before? Did you attend past races, if so - how were they? Anything you would like to have changed? What size group do you have? Cub Scouts, AWANA, or other...?
We conducted one last year but I was not part of the pack. This is my first exposure to scouting and I am a Tiger Den Leader. We have ~35 boys in the pack but I don't know what the participation level is going to be.
dna1990 wrote: So you can start high level. What is the goal of PWD to your group, and what does it mean to you? Is it another chore that is only better if you make in as painless and time efficient as possible. Or is it a highly (over) planned regimented affair with no flexibility or room for kids to be kids? Maybe somewhere in the middle, hopefully. What should the kids have a focus on? Healthy competitiveness? Sportsmanship? Craftsmanship? Time spent with their adult guide? Time spent with their peers/denmates? Showcase? Creativity?


These are great points. I guess my answer is all of the above primarily because every kid has a different idea of what they want.



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