Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Debates and discussions on the various race scheduling methods that can be used and their fairness and accuracy in determining the winners.
Himey97
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Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Himey97 » Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:22 pm

Last year was my first year as PWD race coordinator and with the help of this forum it was a "resounding" success.

We had a new Best Track and Microwizard Timer and GPRM.

We used point scoring, Perfect N Scheduling and took Top 7 to a Finals Round for Trophies to the Top 3 in Each Rank.
Same Format was used to run a Grand Finals round of 15 Racers (3 from each rank) to award the Top 3 Trophies in the Pack.
Oh and it's a 4 lane track and we ran each car 8 times, twice per lane.

We also had the boys stage their own cars! I thought it was a "Double Resounding" success as I was able to break the inertia of the old double elimination "that's the way we always do it" crowd. Our cubmaster said it was the best derby he's seen in 15 years of scouting.

The First downside was that we had a slow lane (#4) which I attributed to the track being slightly out of level but am still not sure.

The Grand Finals Winner ultimately won 31 of 32 races that day with the one loss by a fraction when running in the slow lane against the Grand Finals 2nd Place Car.

The Second downside occurred when the car finishing 3rd in points had the 2nd Fastest average speed in the Grand Finals.

This brings me to the point of this Post.....

As I am running the derby again this year in two weeks, I just got the following email from the parent of the 3rd place car last year. Copied below with the names changed.

H,
You need to change the rules for our derby and get rid of the point
system. Last year Johnny's car had the 2nd fastest average time, but
he got the 3rd place trophy because of the point system. The point
system is flawed and we need to use just total or average times. Make
sure everyone runs the same number of times in each lane (once or twice
is PLENTY) and than just add the times. Drop the lowest time if you
want to. But the point system really needs to go. Why do we have a
timing system down to the 10,000th of a second and not use the times?
M



So, anyone want to help me answer this question ??

Thanks to all



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by dna1990 » Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:43 pm

They started abit brash in their words...but I am sorta with them.

If you have the timer and software...go by times. A perfectN chart from GPRM will put each car into each lane and very evenly dispersed. Race em, and add or average times. GPRM will also knock out lowest time and use the best three, etc.

I haven't been 'round too long, but assume that points help when keeping manual scores. But add a serious 'draw factor' in that who your opponent is in any one heat, weighs high in the mix. An slow or fast lane only amplifies what luck a car gets by the draw.


Quick flip side for scouts not used to times - is to explain to them it doesn't matter much who 'wins' any one race...it is what time they get. A fellow can win four heats (while racing the slowest cars in the pack), only to find them not in the trophy hunt.


Times will also solve your other post about how to have some many 'rounds'. Using times, statistically you really only need the main race - but grand finals are fun and some grand finals mix in winners from other groups that didn't race each other yet, etc.



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by gpraceman » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:22 pm

dna1990 wrote:GPRM will also knock out lowest time and use the best three, etc.
That is an option, but you don't have to throw out the worst time if you don't want to. I do recommend throwing out the worst time if the racers are not the ones loading the cars onto the track.
dna1990 wrote:I haven't been 'round too long, but assume that points help when keeping manual scores. But add a serious 'draw factor' in that who your opponent is in any one heat, weighs high in the mix. An slow or fast lane only amplifies what luck a car gets by the draw.
There are lots of arguments in the Times vs. Points scoring debate. As long as there are not track issues that force you to score by points (speed of the start gate opening depends on the speed of the human operating it or timing system inconsistency) then you can select which scoring method will work best for your organization.


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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:51 pm

So, does the track have a smoothly operating spring open gate? (That is essential for successful timed racing.)

Timed racing rewards consistency. If your young Cubs are not consistent in the way that they stage their cars, or if the cars are not able to run consistent times, then they will suffer using average time for ranking.

If you use times, carefully check the detail times. Do the heat times match up with each heat's order of finish that your eyes observe? Are the times reasonable? A glitch or two in recording times can change the trophy assignments badly without folks otherwise realizing the problem. Points are totally "auditable" by the audience. They can tell if the tallied results are correct. Times are at the mercy of the electronics and the operators. Who can tell if a car ran 2.600 or 2.550? Yet a one race error can shift trophy results around.

If it were mine, I'd look carefully at the heat times from last year. Is there anything in there that doesn't make sense? Any times that are unaccountably slow or fast? If so, I'd stay with points until the times make sense for a year or so. Then, by popular choice, go with what the pack likes.


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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:24 pm

One other observation ... you ran a 15 car "grand finals" which would be a PPN chart, I think. You had lane equity but not total opponent equity. Consequently PPN is good for timed racing and good for selecting finalists (screening), but not as good for accurate placement. The grand finals should be done in two stages ... select 7 with the PPN chart; runoff the 7 with a PN or CPN chart.


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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Himey97 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:26 am

The grand finals should be done in two stages ... select 7 with the PPN chart; runoff the 7 with a PN or CPN chart.
That is exactly how we did it. From your recommendation last year !

Would the point about lane inequality lean the decision to points over times or does it not matter since all cars run in the slow lane the same number of times?



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by zeezop » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:34 am

Another option for point scoring has been suggested on another board:http://pwdracing.proboards.com/index.cg ... 882&page=1 though I believe the points scoring is hard coded on GPRM and other software so for now you would have to export to a spreadsheet or manually calculate the scores.



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Himey97 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:33 am

So, does the track have a smoothly operating spring open gate?
Yes, it's the Best Track provided spring loaded starting gate. Rather abrupt if I recall.
If it were mine, I'd look carefully at the heat times from last year.
Hard drive failure from the old laptop prevents this.

Anyone want to help with a sentence or two answer back to my unsatisfied parent?



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by zeezop » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:42 am

My reply to the parent:

I agree that the point system is flawed, but so is the timing system, so is system x,y,z. There is no perfect system and the points system we used was what was agreed upon by the committee. Looking forward to your assistance this year in running of the derby. Our first meeting is at <insert time>; glad to have you on board.



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:05 am

Himey97 wrote:
The grand finals should be done in two stages ... select 7 with the PPN chart; runoff the 7 with a PN or CPN chart.
That is exactly how we did it. From your recommendation last year !
Okay, that was left out of the description above. So you did okay.
Himey97 wrote:Would the point about lane inequality lean the decision to points over times or does it not matter since all cars run in the slow lane the same number of times?
I'd take a different approach to response. It should be a pack decision that takes into account some factors such as the following:

Lane differences may affect cars differently. Consequently, the differences introduce "error" into both points and times racing and usually, but not necessarily, in the same direction.

Timed racing as it is usually done by packs has no redundancy in its operation. It places a greater dependency on the correct operation of all of the equipment (equipment works right and operators use it right and detect problems WHEN they occur) and the results are not amenable to validation of correctness by the audience. You should do something to prove the equipment and the manner in which it is operated before committing to its use.

By comparison, points racing has effective redundancy, since the audience can see the on-track results and can see that they are correctly recorded.

This real life district race experience is instructive: A few years ago, the chairman decided that the district races would be decided by times. The winner of one age group 1st place trophy was announced only to find that he had gone home after his last race because he had finished 3rd or 4th in all of his heats. Post-announcement data review showed a spurious time due to an intermittent connection that went undetected. The race crew was (supposedly) very experienced, but they did not recognize that the 1.5 second heat time for the trophy winner's 4th place car in the heat was inconsistent with the heat finish order AND that it was not reasonable for a 32' X 4' track.


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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Himey97 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:49 pm

Here's what I wrote to the parent. I know it's exaggerated just a bit. :)


M,
The point system is not flawed. The point system is the most popular system in use today and is the recommended scoring system from the software program.

The two main reasons for using the scoring system are:

First, Scout and Audience members are affirmed because what they see on the track translates directly to the results.
If Car A beats Car B in a race everyone knows who gets the points. That is not what happens in our District races.
In the District Race a car could win every single race but not get a trophy because they never raced against the faster cars.

Second, Timed racing only rewards consistency. A car with one bad race is penalized too much. It is impossible for every lane to be equal, every car to run the same time in each lane, and for every car to be staged in the starting gate the same way each time. Sure we could throw out the slowest time, or even the fastest time but any glitch in the system influences the entire results. In points racing we just rerun the race.

In professional drag racing, the car with the fastest time down the track quite often loses the race because the winning car reacted (staged) more quickly. The losing drive may take comfort that they had the quicker time, but they still lost the race.

If we wanted to take this to the extreme, we could take each PWD car and run them down the track four times all by themselves and may the best time win. (That's almost what the District does).
Doesn't sound like much of a race and doesn’t seem very fun for the scouts.

The PWD results last year (and I'm pulling this only from my memory since the data from the race was lost on a hard drive failure) reflected what happened on the track.
The third place trophy winner came in second place or third place more than the second place trophy winner. Every car races against every other car 4 times and in the same paired opposite lanes.

Think of how it would have been if we gave the second place trophy to Car C when Car B had beat Car C more often.

So in the end, all scoring systems are flawed in some way. I don't need to bring up the flaws in the old double elimination method the pack used to use.

We are using the scoring system that is:
1) The most popular
2) The recommended method
3) The most fun for the scouts.
4) The best for the audience, and
5) Rewards the scout and car for winning a race.

Sorry if I rambled on too much.
vr
H


I know this will get a lot of spears from the board here so fire at will.
:doh:



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:02 pm

An answer to save for the question "Why buy a .1 ms timer when you run by points?"

"Because the timer helps the builders learn and make tuning decisions during "test and tune" sessions. Every test and tune session run is watched carefully and the run data is examined in detail by the owner. He gets to make the decision whether his individual run data is useful and correct or not."


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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by gpraceman » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:22 pm

Himey97 wrote:The point system is the most popular system in use today and is the recommended scoring system from the software program.
Well, not quite. In my experience, more people use times scoring than points. Also, we don't recommend any particular scoring method. There are pros and cons to each. It really boils down to what works better for your track setup (any variation not associated with the cars themselves that could show up in the times) and your organization's preference.

http://grandprix-software-central.com/p ... s&pollid=9
http://grandprix-race-central.com/modul ... r=&thold=0


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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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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by Himey97 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:10 pm

I did mention I exaggerated a bit.

And I'll add these links also
http://derbytalk.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=12
http://grandprix-software-central.com/g ... format.php

I know that you don't recommend a scoring method, but why would the "Suggested Race Format" use the Perfect N scheduling method for the preliminary round followed by the CPN trophy round if Timing Scoring were the recommended scoring method? Seems like that scheduling method is geared towards the points scoring method.

Personally I think points scoring with PN and CPN scheduling as handled by GPRM with Finals and Grand Finals makes for an awesome and fun Derby event.



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Re: Help Me Answer This Parents Question About Points Racing

Post by gpraceman » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:14 pm

Himey97 wrote:I know that you don't recommend a scoring method, but why would the "Suggested Race Format" use the Perfect N scheduling method for the preliminary round followed by the CPN trophy round if Timing Scoring were the recommended scoring method? Seems like that scheduling method is geared towards the points scoring method.
You can use that race format with either scoring method. Some people still want to see a build up to tighter competition over the course of the race, even if scoring by times.

As mentioned in that suggested race format:
Scoring Method - Times or Points. Many people have argued the virtues of each. Basically, if you are confident in the accuracy of your timing system (including your start gate and switch) and the consistency of the crew running the track for the duration of the race, then we'd say go with Times; otherwise, if you have any doubt, go with Points. A drawback with points, though, is a greater chance for ties. This is less of a problem if you can fit in a lot of racing.


Randy Lisano
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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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