Which race scheduling method do you use?

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

What race scheduling method do you use?

Perfect-N Type Charts
17
29%
Stearns Method
4
7%
Lane Rotation
17
29%
Round Robin
0
No votes
Single Elimination
1
2%
Double Elimination
12
20%
Triple Elimination
1
2%
Custom
2
3%
Random
0
No votes
Other
5
8%
 
Total votes: 59

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gpraceman
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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by gpraceman » Fri Jan 16, 2004 9:44 pm

KLenort wrote:I noticed on the pole that lane rotation has the highest number of votes. Is this because it provides ease in getting each scout to make their lane runs all at once? Why is stearns so low ? Isn't it very similar to Perfect-N ? I'm kinda confused as to what system to use. We have been using a 2-lane in the past and running double elimination. This coming March will be the first for my entire pack to use a timed track. Is their any rule of thumb to gage the optimum number of lanes for pak size? Sorry to ask so many questions ..... but hey .... I gotta know .... ya know ? :lol:
This poll doesn't have enough votes to really get a good feel for what people are using. The poll that I have at http://grandprix-software-central.com/p ... s&pollid=3 has over 160 votes, so it is a better representation. Even on that poll, I have been a bit suprised that Stearns is so low, but it seams that many people feel that it creates too many heats.


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Jan 16, 2004 10:35 pm

KLenort wrote:I noticed on the pole that lane rotation has the highest number of votes. Is this because it provides ease in getting each scout to make their lane runs all at once? Why is stearns so low ? Isn't it very similar to Perfect-N ? I'm kinda confused as to what system to use. We have been using a 2-lane in the past and running double elimination. This coming March will be the first for my entire pack to use a timed track. Is their any rule of thumb to gage the optimum number of lanes for pak size? Sorry to ask so many questions ..... but hey .... I gotta know .... ya know ? :lol:
Stearns and PerfectN both are based on a concept from combinatorial analysis called "block diagrams", but they use different types of diagrams. (Actually, I know that PPN does and, from inspection of Stearns charts, I believe that Stearns does also.)

Stearns also includes a random element that sometimes results in charts that rate poorly either in equality of lane usage or in equality of opponent assignments. PPN is rather more consistently good on those accounts. Still, Stearns has a long, successful history.

Stearns, PPN and Lane Rotation are all frequently run as Final Standings races in which cars garner points according to their finish place in their heats, and the winners are determined by ranking the point totals. Final Standings is best run with an electronic finish line that registers heat finish place for each lane. They can be run on the basis of 1 point for winning the heat and zero points for finishing 2nd through last, but this requires many more heats to get comparable accuracy.

As to how to use your track... a lot depends on the racing goals. Do you want to identify and reward Den Winners? Age Group Winners? Pack Winners? Do you trust your electronics timers and track and track operators to produce consistent timings through an entire day of racing? (If you think that you do, read Cory's piece on his PWD experiments!) Do you have finish place electronics? Do you want to make sure that every participant goes home with at least one heat win? ...

So, tell us a bit more.


Stan
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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by KLenort » Fri Jan 16, 2004 11:09 pm

Stan Pope wrote:As to how to use your track... a lot depends on the racing goals. Do you want to identify and reward Den Winners? Age Group Winners? Pack Winners? Do you trust your electronics timers and track and track operators to produce consistent timings through an entire day of racing? (If you think that you do, read Cory's piece on his PWD experiments!) Do you have finish place electronics? Do you want to make sure that every participant goes home with at least one heat win? ...
My derby will consist of 30-40 boys and ? in an open class. We ran 30 boys on a 2-lane track last year using double elimination; parents complained that a 2-hour derby was too long (for them maybe, but not the kids). I just ordered a 4-lane track, timer, and software this week. I'm not crazy about having 1st graders competing against 5th graders for awards. I am thinking about running the pack together and then pull out dens for awards. How can you ensure every participant gets a heat win (that would be impossible)? Does GPRM software estimate elapsed time of event ? I want the actual racing to last ax. 1.5 - 2 hours.



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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by gpraceman » Fri Jan 16, 2004 11:23 pm

KLenort wrote:Does GPRM software estimate elapsed time of event ? I want the actual racing to last ax. 1.5 - 2 hours.
No, since that can really vary by how organized you are, how many racers you need to stage for each heat, which race method you use and so on. It will, however, give you stats on your heat turnaround time. You can do a race rehearsal and then the turnaround time will help you estimate how long your racing might take.

With that said, with some modest organization, you can get down to 1.5 minutes or less between heats. If you take your number of racers times your heat turnaround time this would also give you an estimate. This assumes that you are running once per lane and using a scheduling method like Pefect-N or Lane Rotation charts.


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Jan 16, 2004 11:53 pm

KLenort wrote: My derby will consist of 30-40 boys and ? in an open class. We ran 30 boys on a 2-lane track last year using double elimination; parents complained that a 2-hour derby was too long (for them maybe, but not the kids). I just ordered a 4-lane track, timer, and software this week. I'm not crazy about having 1st graders competing against 5th graders for awards. I am thinking about running the pack together and then pull out dens for awards. How can you ensure every participant gets a heat win (that would be impossible)?
Okay, let's assume that the race committee decides that you want ...
1. grade competitions for three racing trophies in each grade.
2. overall "king of the hill" . single trophy
3. head-to-head racing rather than timed racing.
4. every scout wins at least one heat.
5. inspection time, 30 minutes, is included in your time limit.
6. Cub Scouts race their own cars.
7. you can run heats at the rate of 40 per hour.

Two hours leaves you enough time to run about 80 heats, less inspection time. The deduction for inspection time can be minimized by overlapping racing for one grade with racing for another.

You can schedule groups to arrive for inspection at different times, about 15 or 20 minutes apart, starting with the oldest.

When the 5th graders have been inspected, run them in a 4 lane, 2 round PPN. (8 heats for each scout) Meanwhile, inspect the 4th graders' cars. While you are compiling results, breaking ties, and awarding trophies, start organizing the 4th graders for racing, etc.

Invite the winner from each grade to come back at (the end time) to compete in the "King of the Hill" race. That can be done with a 5 heat PN or 10 heat CPN chart.

Now, there is a special rule which you can invoke that says that the race organizer can challenge any participants for a head-to-head races. You are going to race every one of those boys who didn't win a heat, and you are going to lose! (You better lose, or the effort is wasted.) You may have to put some effort into making some cars that run, but don't run well enough.


Stan
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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by davekelly » Thu Sep 09, 2004 3:49 pm

There are many goals that each Pack wants to accomplish with their race and many ways to attempt to do that. I'm not saying that any one method is better than any other, but this is how our Pack runs our races.

All the boys are entered into the computer upon checkin (I'm not sure of the exact software). The computer assigns the racers in the first heat in order of signin. ie: lane 1, first race, first heat is the first boy that signed in, lane 2, first race first heat is the second etc etc. Our track has an electronic timer to record the run time of each car and then feed the results to the computer. BTW: The boy in lane 1 gets to push the start button - sometimes that is more important to the boys than winning a race! After all the boys have run, the computer then sets up the races for the second heat based on the times ran in the first heat. The cars selected for each race are grouped so that cars with similar speeds will run together. The program also rearranges the lane each boy is on so that he doesn't run the same lane twice. The same process is done for the third and final heat. The program then lists each boy along with is elapsed time for all three runs. The top 3 get the Pack awards and then the go down the list to award the den winners.

We also have best craftsmanship awards for each den as well.

We then follow the awards with a pizza lunch which the boys enjoy as much as the racing!

IMHO our system accomplishes the following: Everyone races the same number of races. No one is out of it way early in the game. By grouping the cars based on previous run times, the number of boys that will get "blown away" everytime they race is minimized. The opposite of that is that as more heats are run, the racing gets closer and closer. At last year's event, each race in the third heat was decided by no more than a car length. The audience and the boys really get into watching race after race of close neck and neck finishes. The upside is that even the boys that don't have fast cars can be involved in some close racing.

Last year our Pack hosted the district race using our system. The overall response from those attending was very positive. No one left disappointed and by the third heat you would have sworn you were watching the Nascar boys at Bristol the way the folks for cheering.

The most accurate way to determine a winner? Maybe not. But I'd trade that for the number of smiles that were present throughout.


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by Darin McGrew » Thu Sep 09, 2004 5:16 pm

davekelly wrote:The cars selected for each race are grouped so that cars with similar speeds will run together. The program also rearranges the lane each boy is on so that he doesn't run the same lane twice. The same process is done for the third and final heat. The program then lists each boy along with is elapsed time for all three runs.
As long as you've got a timer, this sounds like a pretty good system.

The main risk to the system's accuracy is that something might disturb the track such that times after the disturbance aren't quite comparable to times before the disturbance. But any total-time system is going to have this issue.

The main risk to general satisfaction is that someone might not understand that the final results are based on total time, rather than on finish order. It's quite possible - perhaps even likely - that a car could win all three of its races, and yet not win an award. But the MC should be able to set everyone's expections to avoid this issue.



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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by davekelly » Thu Sep 09, 2004 10:13 pm

Darin,

You're exactly right. A car could win all three of its races and not win a trophy. Likewise, a car could fail to win any races and win a trophy. While there is some drawback in this, I think it is a small trade off in order to gain very close races each and every time during the final heat. It is also somewhat rewarding to see a couple of the boys who's cars were way slow get excited racing each other neck and neck instead of getting blown away again and again. They didn't win trophies, but it was pretty neat listening to the two of them talking smack to each other about how close their race was!

As you also pointed out, there is the possibility of something happening to the track half way through a heat which would mess up the time of the cars yet to run. Knock on wood, we haven't had that problem yet. A possible solution to this would be to run more heats and drop the two worse or some other similiar method.

To make sure there is no misunderstanding, we make it a point that at the beginning of the derby and between each race that the methodology (sp?) is explained.

We have yet to see any of they boys disappointed (they seem to understand the rules better than the parents!), and in fact when the winners are announced at the end of the derby there is quite the hint of suspense in the air! Bottom line, it seems that everyboy really gets into the entire derby no one gets disappointed early and everyone seems to have smiles. Bottom line - that's what its about!


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Sep 10, 2004 11:41 am

Might look at ways to increase the number of runs per scout... three runs doesn't sound like much, considering all the effort that went into building the car.


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by davekelly » Fri Sep 10, 2004 12:52 pm

Stan,

I agree fully. We've slowly gotten better at running our races more efficiently and six heats I think are a possiblity. One thing that I think slows us down is we run 3 groups. First the scouts, then the den chiefs and then the open. Given that the whole thing is based on total time, we could probably run all groups together. Perhaps that will give us enough time to run six heats. Of course by the sixth heat there should be some really exciting finishes!!!


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:49 pm

Along the lines of "more racing" ... I've heard comments to the effect that turtle drivers usually don't want to race as many times as drivers of hares. I don't totally disagree, although I think that the threshholds are different for different boys. Somehow, I think that 6 heats doesn't begin to push the threshholds of the turtle drivers.

Along the lines of the racing cars of comparable speeds, there are several ways to do this. Certainly, pairing by time rank does that. Quintuple elimination does a nice job, too.

We have been running nochart quintuple elim for several years at our district races because it is fast, has minimal record keeping, and has easy pairing. The slowest turtles get 5 heats. (Since we run in 3's, many of these will have finished a heat in 2nd place at least once before being eliminated.) THe hares tend to get more heats, and the fastest may finish the day with 12 to 15 heats.

Quintuple elim, 3 at a time, works well for large groups (50 to 100+) as we must deal with at our district races. For smaller groups of 20 to 30, two at a time might be better.

One of the beauties of the no-chart method is that the record keeping is trivial and prepping for next round doesn't require waiting for the compleiton of the current round. Ya just grab the next bunch of boys, squish them into a line and race 'em. (Well, it is a bit more complicated because of lane draw and resequencing, but not much.)

The other aspect is that we can "GO" even if all the electronics fail, because all the judges need to do is identify the first place car(s). A district race just can't be rescheduled at the last minute! 400 families have driven for miles and the facility rent must be paid, regardless!

(This is not meant to imply that the timed method is not worthy. Rather it is intended to show another way to satisfy the same objectives in a very demanding and time-critical environment while avoiding some of the possible problems.)


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by MathGuy » Wed Nov 10, 2004 2:57 pm

The Tier Method that I had did last year was shooting at the same goal to have the boy's start to go against the same speed opponents. Thus different boys start to win races, and get very competitive.

As I would see it, if you had 21 boys, and 3 lanes, and each boy races in each lane either once or twice, and best overall time determines the overall ranking.
But after the first heat, the results of all boys who raced in Lane 1, would be sorted top to bottom, and similiarly for Lane 2&3. Then the slower boys from each lane would race first heat in the second round, but the Lane 1 group would move to Lane 2, and etc.
The draw back is Round 2 and 3 might have the same matchups (and results) If you have Round 4-6, you can reseed Round 4 to have a different grouping assigned to that Lane 1.

Sounds Fair from the timing aspect (assuming a trigger starter, not a more random manual start.) And as I can attest, the actual heats are very close and very exciting, plus the slower boy's don't care as much if they are on the bottom half if they happen to win a race.

I Like it more than other scheduling methods because I believe it let's more boys leave with a positive experience. Just not the Fastest Boy's who more times than we want to admit, did very little of the work on their cars. (What program do you guy's use? Or is it an Custom Hand Entry Job?)


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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by GoneFission » Tue Mar 08, 2005 6:03 pm

We use a 6-lane Piantedosi track that we just stretched out to 40 feet, less the stopping zone. We use lane rotation and use a computer interface to sum the heat times and declare a winner. For 55 to 60 boys in 5 ranks, the whole derby takes about 90 minutes to run.

We also award trophies for "Most Original Concept" for a non-automotive design and "Best Car" for cars that look like ... well, cars. We tried awarding a Pack Champion, but it seemed better to send out 5 winners than just one. Besides, all rank winners go to District where a GP will be run for District rank winners.

Next year we are planning to race the whole pack (~60 boys) in a randomized lane rotation (the computer will ensure all cars race on all lanes, but not in any order), and just sort by rank for winners. We will see if that generates more excitement, since no one really knows how they are doing until the end. And nobody is done "first"

We chose lane rotation based on our race management software's ability to calculate the schedule and record times. As long as we get good starts, we consider it as fair as anything.

We had some experience with lane rotation at a District event, and learned 2 things.
1) If the number of raceres exceeds the number of lanes, lane rotation by points depends heavily on who is on the track with you.
2) You have to know what your software does, and clearly communicate with the racers.

The pack running this district told us that they were scoring on time, but when my pictures were developed, you could see the sort asterisk was on the points column.



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Re: Which race scheduling method do you use?

Post by nerangers » Sun Mar 26, 2006 4:46 pm

We have always done double elimination....but am willing to change our approach from what I have read.

Someone made the comment that there is not enough racing for those that get knocked out early. We setup an extra track so those kids can race each other. It is funny...some of the kids would rather lose at the official races to go play on the practice track!



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