Fairly basic question about race divisions

Debates and discussions on the various race scheduling methods that can be used and their fairness and accuracy in determining the winners.
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Vitamin K
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Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Vitamin K » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:03 pm

So...one thing I can't quite get my head around is how to have a race that awards prizes based on certain divisions (e.g., den, age-group), but still has awards for the top performing cars across all divisions. I mean, I can see how this would be done if you were running on times, but I'm not a fan of time-based scoring. How would you do this if you're running a points-based race?



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by BallBoy » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:36 pm

If you are doing a points-based race you must have cars in each division race only against in that division. For Cub Scouts it would be wolves vs. only wolves, bears vs. only bears, etc. If you wanted cars in different divisions to race against one another, but only compete against their own division you will need to score based on times rather than points.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by gpraceman » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:38 am

You can first run the races for each age group. Then advance the top number of racers to an overall race.


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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Speedster » Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:50 am

I'm curious to know why you are not a fan of time scoring. I've read where it is the most fair way to score a race. Our District scores Point Scoring on the final track which has resulted in " ties" the last 2 years. The District awards 3 trophies each year and this year the tie was between 2 cars for 3rd place. While the race off was very, very exciting, the loser broke down in tears. I feel this is an unnecessary burden to place on a little boy. If they had been scoring elapsed time the chances of a tie would be much less.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Vitamin K » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:05 am

A few reasons:

1) It requires a reliance on hardware. There's a certain monetary hurdle that you have to get over before you can accurately run a race by time. You need an electronic finish gate that's tied to an automatic start mechanism. And if it breaks down, you're in trouble.

2) Timed races (in my opinion) take away some of the excitement of actually winning heats. In the the timed races my son raced at, he ran four heats, got 1st, 1st, 2nd and 3rd and still didn't place anything at the end. Everything was being done by time, so actually winning heats didn't mean anything. They may as well have just run each car down each track in turn and tallied the times.

3) I might be something of a luddite, but I don't trust the accuracy of timers all that much. When races are being determined by thousandths of a second, I'd rather see it done by a method in which you can verify the clear winner. A human eye can't judge time, but you can tell if the car that registers as first place didn't actually come in first. In the timed race that my son and I participated in, there were more than a few runs in which the timer just went nuts and displayed some completely bogus information on the screen.

4) I like the idea of giving the cars as many runs as possible and having the final determination delayed towards the end of the race. I'm giving a hard look at Stan's Quintuple Elimination method.

5) Just to be clear, I don't have an issue with using hardware to determine the finish order. I just prefer a method that picks a winner based on actual standings within heats as opposed to isolating timed runs.
Speedster wrote:I'm curious to know why you are not a fan of time scoring. I've read where it is the most fair way to score a race. Our District scores Point Scoring on the final track which has resulted in " ties" the last 2 years. The District awards 3 trophies each year and this year the tie was between 2 cars for 3rd place. While the race off was very, very exciting, the loser broke down in tears. I feel this is an unnecessary burden to place on a little boy. If they had been scoring elapsed time the chances of a tie would be much less.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Speedster » Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:03 am

Thank you for your response. I'd like to refer to #2. Consider a 4 lane track. The "Race" is who covers the track the fastest. When a car goes down a lane and crosses the finish line first, it has won nothing. All four cars are running a different race. The race is over when all cars have all run on the exact same surface. You're correct in saying we could run each car by itself down lane #1 and pick the winners. That is actually what is being done but everyone wants to see cars go down the track together so they look like they are racing each other. If my understanding is correct when you are racing and scoring with the point system the cars are still racing the clock. No matter what scoring system you use, the cars are racing the clock. Elapsed time is simply more accurate then the other systems and puts a burden on the scout to stage his car very carefully. There's no more coming back for a "Win" by flipping a coin as we did years ago with Double Elimination. No matter what system you use you still have to rely on electronics. I suspect it's a simple thing for a quality computer, quality software, quality hardware to record elapsed times. I feel Elapsed times is the fairest scoring we can provide for the scouts. No doubt others might disagree.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Vitamin K » Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:12 am

I would point out a slight correction here. When you run a non-time system, you really are racing the other cars, because the only thing that matters in terms of your score/standing is where your car places in the heat. Obviously, your car's speed down the track matters, but so does the performance of the others in your heat. If somebody's car throws a wheel and jumps the track, allowing yours to win, then you've advanced in the standings, regardless of your time.

No system is going to be perfect, obviously. I just really like the idea of racing the other cars, as opposed to the clock.
Speedster wrote:Thank you for your response. I'd like to refer to #2. Consider a 4 lane track. The "Race" is who covers the track the fastest. When a car goes down a lane and crosses the finish line first, it has won nothing. All four cars are running a different race. The race is over when all cars have all run on the exact same surface. You're correct in saying we could run each car by itself down lane #1 and pick the winners. That is actually what is being done but everyone wants to see cars go down the track together so they look like they are racing each other. If my understanding is correct when you are racing and scoring with the point system the cars are still racing the clock. No matter what scoring system you use, the cars are racing the clock. Elapsed time is simply more accurate then the other systems and puts a burden on the scout to stage his car very carefully. There's no more coming back for a "Win" by flipping a coin as we did years ago with Double Elimination. No matter what system you use you still have to rely on electronics. I suspect it's a simple thing for a quality computer, quality software, quality hardware to record elapsed times. I feel Elapsed times is the fairest scoring we can provide for the scouts. No doubt others might disagree.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Speedster » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:33 pm

I think there is no such thing as a "non-time system". Whether you keep track of the time or not it will always be there. If a car throws a wheel, what happens? That particular car has recorded a nasty time. A car is always racing the clock. If you and I are racing on a 4 lane track I want to cover those 4 lanes faster than you. If you happen to cross the finish line 1st one of the times you have simply crossed the finish line 1st one of the times. You haven't won anything. Scoring with the point system is doing the same thing as recording the Elapsed Times only not as accurately. If there is something I'm not understanding, please correct me.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Vitamin K » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:48 pm

It's different because in heat based racing, your car's performance only matters in that particular heat. If your car does 2.94 seconds down the track and wins the heat, that's cool. But if somebody else's car wins a parallel heat to yours at 3.1 seconds, you're still equal in standings until your cars race together in the same heat. It may yield similar results at the end (fastest car's gonna win it), but you're not racing "in a vacuum" the way you are effectively doing when you just go by times.
Speedster wrote:I think there is no such thing as a "non-time system". Whether you keep track of the time or not it will always be there. If a car throws a wheel, what happens? That particular car has recorded a nasty time. A car is always racing the clock. If you and I are racing on a 4 lane track I want to cover those 4 lanes faster than you. If you happen to cross the finish line 1st one of the times you have simply crossed the finish line 1st one of the times. You haven't won anything. Scoring with the point system is doing the same thing as recording the Elapsed Times only not as accurately. If there is something I'm not understanding, please correct me.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Stan Pope » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:16 am

Heat elapsed times are more able than points to rank race cars in a limited number of runs if the times are accurate. But how do you know that the times are accurate?

Presently we can, at best, apply some techniques which lend credibility to the times that hardware displays and thereby lending credibility to the ability of the hardware and the skill of the operators. To his credit, Randy has implemented some of these in GPRM. :clap:

The advantage that points has over times lies in the ability of interested bystanders to see whether or not the scoring is done accurately. They can usually tell the order of finish, at least for the racecar in which they are most interested. Few folks can estimate heat times as closely as 0.1 seconds.

One concern is that the races are usually conducted by folks who are well meaning but have limited training and experience. That is the nature of Cub Scouting ... the leaders are usually parents of the Cub Scouts and when the Cub Scout advances into Boy Scouting, so also do most of the adult leaders! There are happily some who just don't outgrow Cub Scouting and a lot of those show up on DT!


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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by ah8tk » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:08 am

Hey, I resemble that comment.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Vitamin K » Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:39 am

Stan, I align with a lot of your views on scheduling methods. So, assuming you had a pack of 60-70 boys to run a race for, and it was desired that there be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards for each scouting group (Tigers, Wolves, Bears, Webs), plus a 1st, 2nd, 3rd overall, what method of scheduling would you use?
Stan Pope wrote:Heat elapsed times are more able than points to rank race cars in a limited number of runs if the times are accurate. But how do you know that the times are accurate?

Presently we can, at best, apply some techniques which lend credibility to the times that hardware displays and thereby lending credibility to the ability of the hardware and the skill of the operators. To his credit, Randy has implemented some of these in GPRM. :clap:

The advantage that points has over times lies in the ability of interested bystanders to see whether or not the scoring is done accurately. They can usually tell the order of finish, at least for the racecar in which they are most interested. Few folks can estimate heat times as closely as 0.1 seconds.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:53 pm

Vitamin K wrote:Stan, I align with a lot of your views on scheduling methods. So, assuming you had a pack of 60-70 boys to run a race for, and it was desired that there be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards for each scouting group (Tigers, Wolves, Bears, Webs), plus a 1st, 2nd, 3rd overall, what method of scheduling would you use?
Assumptions:
1. pack race
2. 3 or 4 lane track
3. Leadership has unknown or limited experience with track and software
4. Snap-open start gate
5. Computer interconnect to finish line with race management software, e.g. GPRM
6. You have time to run each racer twice in each lane

I'd run PPN schedule and score by points, though I'd ask the software to capture individual heat times. I'd also record the runs on video capturing the gate opening and cars crossing the finish line, since the video can be analyzed in detail to evaluate the operators skill and the correct operation of the timing mechanism. This analysis is time consuming and would not produce a timely decision during the competition. The evaluation is not exact, since even at 32 frames per second the resolution is only 0.03 seconds. But it allows gross errors to be detected. It also allows you to address specific concerns from parents, enabling you to say, for instance, that the video supports the order of finish and the time assigned... but only after a few hours of analyzing the video!

Then if the evaluation is satisfactory and the assumptions are still valid, I'd consider points or times in subsequent years.

If I only had time for one run per lane for each racecar, then for a group this size, I'd run times and cross my fingers that there were no gross errors. I'd also video each race as above for a post race analysis.

If I had a "manual open against resistance" gate, I'd run points and not times since the starter tires and gets slower and the times get longer as the day progresses.

If it were a bigger group, for instance, a district or council race where you might have 50 to 100 racers in each group, the I'd get more creative. There is too much sitting and waiting if all 100 race on one track. Then I'd look for a method that allows more parallelism, e.g. Quintuple Elimination running on multiple tracks or, even better yet, 15th Burlington Sort.

In other words, "It depends!"


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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Vitamin K » Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:16 am

Stan, do you mean a separate PPN chart for each division, or a single PPN chart and then just see which in each division has the most points at the end?
Stan Pope wrote:
Vitamin K wrote:Stan, I align with a lot of your views on scheduling methods. So, assuming you had a pack of 60-70 boys to run a race for, and it was desired that there be 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards for each scouting group (Tigers, Wolves, Bears, Webs), plus a 1st, 2nd, 3rd overall, what method of scheduling would you use?
Assumptions:
1. pack race
2. 3 or 4 lane track
3. Leadership has unknown or limited experience with track and software
4. Snap-open start gate
5. Computer interconnect to finish line with race management software, e.g. GPRM
6. You have time to run each racer twice in each lane

I'd run PPN schedule and score by points, though I'd ask the software to capture individual heat times. I'd also record the runs on video capturing the gate opening and cars crossing the finish line, since the video can be analyzed in detail to evaluate the operators skill and the correct operation of the timing mechanism. This analysis is time consuming and would not produce a timely decision during the competition. The evaluation is not exact, since even at 32 frames per second the resolution is only 0.03 seconds. But it allows gross errors to be detected. It also allows you to address specific concerns from parents, enabling you to say, for instance, that the video supports the order of finish and the time assigned... but only after a few hours of analyzing the video!



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Stan Pope » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:26 am

Separate PPN Charts for each division. If I wanted best accuracy, I'd run the top 7 in a CPN chart (totally balanced opposition).

Then run PPN chart of top 3 from each division to find overall winners.

Points don't compare when running against different opposition mix.

Considering the extra time/effort to do points accurately, it is worthwhile to equip, train, practice and prove so that times can be done with assurance of accuracy. My personal experience is that it is really embarrassing to do less.


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