Help Choosing a track

Discussions on race planning, preparations and how to run a "fair" and fun race.
Post Reply
Rukkian
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 199
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:59 pm
Location: West Des Mones, IA

Help Choosing a track

Post by Rukkian » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:00 pm

I would like some advice from all of the pinewood veterans out there.

Our pack currently has 2 tracks -

1. A pretty old 4 lane Piantedosi Oars (32'?) that we have had for many years that has one of the first the judge finish line detectors, which still works pretty well, but has not connectivity options
2. A newer 3 lane Piantedosi Oars (32'?) that was purchased approximately 4 years ago that also has a Microwizard (K2 I think) timer with computer interface.

We inherited the 3 lane track from a pack that disbanded and joined us earlier this year, which also came with GPRM (which I upgraded to the latest version). We have about 45 boys total in the pack, and the ranks range from 5 to 20 in each group. Last year I ran Corey's PPN spreadsheet and ran each car twice in each lane (8 times total). I would like opinions of those on the board as to which setup would be the best to use, and what options to use.

I feel we will probably go by points either way, (partly because I am not sure how accurate the laser start gate and track is) and since one den has 20 boys, I would like them to race against as many as possible (both for the fun of it and to ensure it is as fair as possible in determining the winners).

I plan on running subgroups, putting the webelos all in one group, and the tigers/wolves in another with the bears by themselves, so each group should have between 14 and 20.

My initial opinion was to use the 4 lane, but while playing with GPRM, I thought it would be very nice to pull the data automatically. On a 4 lane track x 8 races, would get up to 24 different opponents. On a 3 lane, even at 9 races, it would only be 18, and would probably take alot longer.

Thanks in advance.



rpcarpe
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 734
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:58 am
Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Re: Help Choosing a track

Post by rpcarpe » Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:53 pm

I would run the timer and use the Times instead of the Points method.
Some kids might not understand the points as easily as seeing their times.
Possibly use a project to show the times of each heat.

Talk to your parents and Den leaders, they probably have good ideas on what would work for your situation.


My wife started a new support group... Widows of the Pinewood Derby.

User avatar
gpraceman
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4696
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Highlands Ranch, CO
Contact:

Re: Help Choosing a track

Post by gpraceman » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:01 pm

I would likely use the newer 3 lane track with the K2 timer, since that timer has the computer interface.

On the laser start sensor, I would change that out and use the mechanical switch instead. Far less problematic.

With the 3 lane track, you could do at least two runs per lane, if you have the time. That is 6 runs down the track for everyone, which is a good amount of racing.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

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.

Rukkian
Master Pine Head
Master Pine Head
Posts: 199
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:59 pm
Location: West Des Mones, IA

Re: Help Choosing a track

Post by Rukkian » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:27 pm

Thanks for the responses guys.

RPCarpe - asking the parents and den leaders is not really an option, as I was appointed the PWD commissioner 2 years ago since most do not care, and they were doing a simple lane rotation with hand scoring before I started.

I am not a big fan of running by times, but am not completely against it. As for people not understanding points, that is what we have used the last 2 years I have run it, so that would not be a change - times would. As for the laser gate, I do not have to option of buying more stuff, as I am already thought of as way too into the pinewood, so the laser start is what we have to work with, hence part of my apprehension to using times instead of points.

With only 6 runs (2 per lane) it would only allow 12 different opponents - is that enough to figure out the top racers from each rank? I had planned to take the top 4 per rank and moving on to a grand finale and running another set of races.

When running by times, do people usually run a grand finale, or just use the times they got in the first round?



User avatar
Darin McGrew
Pine Head Legend
Pine Head Legend
Posts: 1753
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 1:23 pm
Location: Mountain View, CA
Contact:

Re: Help Choosing a track

Post by Darin McGrew » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:07 pm

If you don't have complete confidence in the timing system remaining consistent from one race to the next, then I wouldn't use times for the final results. People understand points pretty well: coming in first is better than coming in last. And they can confirm visually which car came in first. Results based on times can be counter-intuitive, especially when a car loses to a car with better times, and the two cars never raced against each other. And they can't confirm that the times are accurate.

If you're using the main races to qualify finalists, then you just need to make sure that the top n cars make it into the finals, where n is the number of awards you're presenting. IIRC, a points-based PPN schedule is extremely reliable at getting the top n cars into the finals when you include roughly the top 2n cars. And of course, you can use times to qualify finalists, although I'd still allow more finalists than the number of awards you're presenting, to make sure that a timing anomaly doesn't keep a qualified car out of the finals.



User avatar
gpraceman
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4696
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Highlands Ranch, CO
Contact:

Re: Help Choosing a track

Post by gpraceman » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:26 pm

Rukkian wrote:I am not a big fan of running by times, but am not completely against it. As for people not understanding points, that is what we have used the last 2 years I have run it, so that would not be a change - times would. As for the laser gate, I do not have to option of buying more stuff, as I am already thought of as way too into the pinewood, so the laser start is what we have to work with, hence part of my apprehension to using times instead of points.
Micro Wizard usually provides a mechanical switch along with the laser sensor. So, you may already have what you need in hand. If not, you can pick up a switch from Radio Shack for about $3,

If you stick with the laser, get a piece of 1x2 and firmly secure the sensor and laser to that. Then mount the 1x2 to the track. That may help to keep the two in alignment.
Rukkian wrote:With only 6 runs (2 per lane) it would only allow 12 different opponents - is that enough to figure out the top racers from each rank? I had planned to take the top 4 per rank and moving on to a grand finale and running another set of races.
That is a pretty reasonable number IMO. But it will boil down to how many ties you end up with. The higher the opponent count, the less likely you are to have ties.
Rukkian wrote:When running by times, do people usually run a grand finale, or just use the times they got in the first round?
It is totally optional, so up to your preference.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

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.

Post Reply