Awana Grand Prix Format

Debates and discussions on the various race scheduling methods that can be used and their fairness and accuracy in determining the winners.
10range
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Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by 10range » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:56 am

I just found out last week that me and my wife will be in charge of running our Awana Grand Prix this year. When we started discussing the race she asked me for suggestions on how to run the race so I figured I would come to the experts :scratching:

The background
In previous years we have had a low of 30 and high somewhere over 50 participants. This included all age groups of Cubbies though Trek (4 different age groups). All of the groups have been run together in what I believe was some form of double elimination format with awards given for both place and speed the first three places in each group. I have yet to figure out how they figured out how they were able to calculate any of this other than the speed in each class as we have an electronic timer. They have been running the race during our normal club time which is on Wednesday evenings from 6-7:30.

With the double elimination format we have always taken about 10 minutes between re-setting the brackets for round two to share a gospel message with everyone in attendance. We are going to do that again this year as we feel this is the most important portion of the event and for the majority of the parents in attendance, this the one or two times per year we have contact with them beyond seeing them when they drop of and pick their children up from club.

Our current setup is a 4 lane Besttrack with a RaceMaster IV timer.

Now for the questions
1. What would be feasible to attempt to do during this time frame? There may be a bit of flexibility on how late the race runs but I don't imagine running past 8 pm would be well received by most of the leaders or parents in attendance.
2. Would it be best to separate out the groups by ages and only run them against each other? Part of the problem with this would be that some of the groups only have a handful of participants while other have a dozen plus. One of my goals is to let each kid run as many times as possible with our time allowed. In past races, if a kids car did not win one of their first two races, they only ran twice and where done for the entire event.
3. Help me convince my wife that purchasing GPRM would help make the race run better, smoother, faster, more accurate, ect... :thinking: :scratching: (I started working on this since I found out we were in charge)


Any words of advice?



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by dna1990 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:13 am

1. Run a perfect-n style setup, run each car in each lane using software to assign all those heats. If so, plenty of time for the race. Just need to allow for any awards and teardown time. Forget all the bracket stuff.

2. Use GPRM to race as a master group, but assign winners and awards based on times per age group. Again using perfect-n, each car gets at least four trips down the track. If you choose to have a Final Grand heat, a few can have more runs. Or after the official race, just open up the track and everyone just takes turns. If organized, 50 cars should take 50 minutes of race time. Figure in a few breaks, announcements, etc.

3. If you have a timer, GPRM is such a no-brainer, it needs no convincing.



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by tgrimstead » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:19 am

Our AWANA club runs it in a heat format using times. The issue with the double elimination is just like you said. A kid may only get 2 runs and then they're out. Running a set number of heats and then averaging out the times from your timer is the way to go. Our club ran it on a Saturday at noon and got less then stellar participation. I would recommend trying to do it on a club night. Just make sure everything is ready to go when the kids start showing up. Running an overall speed, not separating the ages, and then judging best design by ages can help tone down the SPEED IS EVERYTHING mind set. I'd like to see a Wild Card race implemented. Just pull names from a hat for a WILD CARD CHAMPIONSHIP after the initial speed race is over. Gives another set of kids a shot at a trophy. Ooooh..get your local law enforcement to show up and give the kids speeding tickets! :bigups: Very funny for the kids and helps interaction within the community.



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by rpcarpe » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:47 am

Definitely use a computer generated race program that allows maximum participation. Each car should race on each lane. Others on this forum are MUCH more experienced with this.
Good Luck!


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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by tgrimstead » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:28 am

I heartily agree with senior, rpcarpe. :oops: My ramblings should not be confused with knowledge on how to run a race :lipssealed:. Good on you for wanting to improve the experience for the kids. Though I do think a Wild Card race would be fun!



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by 10range » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:07 pm

A wild card race could be fun. We have also discussed the idea of having a final race between each of the classes. Since we have a 4 lane track and 4 age groups that could be fun and get all of the clubbers involved in cheering for the representative from their age group.

Speaking of speeding tickets, one of the dad's who has been quite involved the last few years is a state trouper. The last couple of years he has overseen the work area for kids who needed a little bit of help to get through tech.

One more area of concern that I have about the timed race, last year we had a couple of times when the electronic timer gave a couple of inconsistent times (much faster than they should have been). I suspect the issue is with the starting switch and the wire the timer uses. The first year I helped set up the track we could not find the original wire that was used on the starting switch so I had to make one out of available wire and I suspect it may not be quite strong enough. I am planning to improve that situation so hopefully the timing will be dead on. Any suggestions for using the time method if the timer does act up? Will GPRM let you drop the fastest or slowest times if needed? This is not a big concern for us because last year out of all the races I think there were two where the times were obviously off. Just trying to cover all the bases just in case.



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by gpraceman » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:44 pm

10range wrote:Any suggestions for using the time method if the timer does act up?
If the timer is acting up, the best option is to switch to Points scoring.

Some timers can be susceptible to electronic interference. I always recommend to run any power cords on one side of the track and the computer and start switch cables on the other.

If you are using a laser or other optical sensor at the start I would recommend that you change to a mechanical switch. Optical systems can be finicky to keep alignment and can be prematurely triggered.
10range wrote:Will GPRM let you drop the fastest or slowest times if needed.
You do have the option to drop the slowest time for each racer when scoring by cumulative or average times.


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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: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by *5 J's* » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:57 pm

gpraceman wrote:
10range wrote:Will GPRM let you drop the fastest or slowest times if needed.
You do have the option to drop the slowest time for each racer when scoring by cumulative or average times.
:offtopic:Randy, I forget - can GPRM identify the group with the highest MODE?



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by gpraceman » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:11 pm

*5 J's* wrote:Randy, I forget - can GPRM identify the group with the highest MODE?
Not currently, but maybe in the future.


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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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by 10range » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:17 am

gpraceman wrote:
10range wrote:Any suggestions for using the time method if the timer does act up?
If the timer is acting up, the best option is to switch to Points scoring.

Some timers can be susceptible to electronic interference. I always recommend to run any power cords on one side of the track and the computer and start switch cables on the other.

If you are using a laser or other optical sensor at the start I would recommend that you change to a mechanical switch. Optical systems can be finicky to keep alignment and can be prematurely triggered.
10range wrote:Will GPRM let you drop the fastest or slowest times if needed.
You do have the option to drop the slowest time for each racer when scoring by cumulative or average times.
Thanks for the advice. I think we are going to run based on times. Our track uses the RaceMaster mechanical switch that is tripped off the bottom of the BestTrack starting gate. In the past we have run the wire for the timer down one side and the power wire down the other, both tucked under the track. Could the fact that they are both close to the track affect that? Last year was the first time that we had some strange times. There were two races where all four cars ran under the track record by .1-.2 seconds. I still suspect it is due to the trip wire I had to scrounge up that may not have been stiff enough to consistently trigger the timer switch. Even when the timer has malfunctioned, it is still giving consistent time results of the cars running in that heat in relation to each other and correct placements for those heats.

If we needed to switch to a points format, would we have any problems with still running the races in the 1 to 1 1/4 hour range and come out with reliable results?



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by gpraceman » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:52 am

With that timer you do need to make sure that the whisker switch is operating well. The other thing that I have seen people have problems with that timer is providing sufficient light. You should provide a dedicated light source, not depend on room lighting. With 4 or more lane tracks, you might need two lights. For a buddy of mine, I built him a LED light bar which he attaches to the back of the timer bridge and is positioned so it illuminates the lane sensors. One ultra-bright white LED for each lane sensor. That has worked well for him.


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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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by 10range » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:16 am

Thanks for the advice. We also experienced issues with having enough light to trigger the sensors. My solution was to find a small under cabinet florescent light that fit perfect on the timer. One thought that I just had was that with the florescent cycles this may change the time ever so slightly? I suspect this is not the case since 99.9% of the time it functions properly. My money is on the starting switch wire loosing tension.



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by gpraceman » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:27 am

Do not use fluorescent lighting. It needs to be incandescent. Fluorescent lighting actually pulses (too fast for us to see) and that can cause a problem with the sensors.


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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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by Darin McGrew » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:35 am

10range wrote:If we needed to switch to a points format, would we have any problems with still running the races in the 1 to 1 1/4 hour range and come out with reliable results?
We normally race about 25-30 cars in less than an hour. We have a 4-lane track, each car races twice in each lane. We have adults staging the races, with the owners of the cars waiting at the finish line to bring their cars back to the pit crew after each race.



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Re: Awana Grand Prix Format

Post by davem » Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:10 pm

Randy - great tip on the white LED light bar.
Any advice on where to get them?
Quicky internet search ended me up in Germany!



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