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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Darin McGrew
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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Darin McGrew » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:43 am

I know I'm jumping in late, but I've been away from Derby Talk for a while. Anyway, to add to what Stan and Vitamin K have already said...
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.
Well, yes. Ultimately, the results of any system depends on the time required by each car to cross the finish line. But I don't think that it is useful to ignore the distinction between timed systems (where the times are recorded and compared directly) and finish-order systems (where the finish order from each individual race is used).
Speedster wrote:If a car throws a wheel, what happens? That particular car has recorded a nasty time.
Perhaps. With a timed system, finishing last is much worse if you finish 1.0 second behind the first car than if you finish 0.1 second behind the first car. With a finish-order system, it doesn't really matter whether a car is in last place by several inches, or whether a car is in last place by several feet.
Speedster wrote:Scoring with the point system is doing the same thing as recording the Elapsed Times only not as accurately.
I don't think so. A timed system directly compares the performance of cars in heat 1, with the performance of cars in heat 2, with the performance of cars in heat 3, and so on. That's fine if the performances in various heats are truly comparable. But how do you know they're truly comparable? And how do the parents and kids watching know they're truly comparable? How do you know that nothing significant changed in the race environment (say, adding 0.1 second to every car's time starting with heat 26)?

A finish-order system directly compares only the performance of cars in a single heat. If something changes in the race environment (say, adding 0.1 second to every car's time starting with heat 26), then the results are still the same. In each heat, the same cars came in first, second, third, and fourth. And those watching can verify that the cars did indeed cross the finish line in that order.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Speedster » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:08 pm

Never too late, Darin.
A Finish-Order system doesn't tell me what I need to know after the race is over. Let 's take a hypothetical race. All I know is my scout received a 2nd place trophy. If I receive my times to .000 seconds for each run along with the 1st place winner's times then I will know how much faster I need to go to beat the young gentleman assuming his times remain the same. Since I have purchased a duplicate "Best" track used by our district ( and the Mid America) I know what time I need to turn. Since my scout knows all this we are going to have lots of fun this summer trying to build a faster car and testing, testing, testing. I enjoy studying the Mid America charts and comparing my times in each lane with others. Finish-Order system is fair but does not provide me with enough information.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:10 am

For the purpose of measuring the amount of gain needed to overcome your opponent, you can easily back into the numbers you want, provided you were there to see the race or have a decent video of the races. If you lost to another race car, by how much? 1/8"? 1"? 3"?

Your race car is traveling about 11 mph as it crosses the finish line. (A poor car would be slower, but that doesn't apply in this case!) 11 mph translates to 0.19 inches per millisecond. With little loss of accuracy, we can say that for every 0.2 inches you trailed another car, you lagged his time by 0.001 seconds. Trailing by an inch = 5 ms. Half a car length = 18 ms.

But, you say, "I didn't race against the #1 race car." Then whip out your video of the races, and look at how each of you did against common opponent(s).

The missing piece of information is how well the lanes are matched. If the lanes are dreadfully mismatched, then even times will not tell you all you want to know. You can see this if you have times and racers running multiple times on each lane. You will see a large variance between your car's runs in each or most of the lanes.


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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Speedster » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:39 am

We all run against the #1 car so we're not faced with that problem. I don't understand why mismatched lanes would make any difference since we're all covering the same course. I suspect no two lanes are the same on a 4 lane track no matter what "Best" track says in their advertisements. If a #1 car has a total time of .03 seconds faster than the #2 car, then we know how much time needs to be made up.

Here's my problem with points scoring. This was an actual District race in 2012. Two cars tied for 3rd place. The cars were put in Lane 1 and Lane 2. They raced and they tied. A mistake was now made by the adults. Instead of switching lanes they moved the cars down a lane and are now running on Lane #2 and Lane #3, a totally different race. Lane #3 lost. Did he actually lose? If they both had run the same course would he have won? This was a mistake by the adults but if they had been scoring with Elapsed Time during regulation racing the situation probably would not have happened.

District Race in 2013. Two cars tied for 2nd place, one of them being one of my scouts. The adults decided to put the cars in Lane #3 and Lane #4. My scout lost and the other scout was declared the 2nd place winner. Again, mistake by Adults. Situation would not have happened had they been running Elapsed Time during regulation racing.

Many years ago my friends son was racing in the Swan Creek District. Again, points scoring. Out of 10 races Kyle lost 1 race. All of a sudden racing stopped and it was announced there was a 3 way tie for 1st place. WHAT ????? Kyle got 4th place.
I talked to the leader of the program and in later years the cars ran more races and racing became more fair. Had they been running Elapsed Time Kyle might have been in 2nd place.

Those are my problems with points scoring. I agree it is human error but with Elapsed Time the chance of a tie is much less.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Vitamin K » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:12 am

If you're using an electronic finish line, I would imagine that your risk of a tie is no higher for running a points-based race than an elapsed-time race. I have no problem with using technology to determine the win order. I would encourage it, even.
Speedster wrote:We all run against the #1 car so we're not faced with that problem. I don't understand why mismatched lanes would make any difference since we're all covering the same course. I suspect no two lanes are the same on a 4 lane track no matter what "Best" track says in their advertisements. If a #1 car has a total time of .03 seconds faster than the #2 car, then we know how much time needs to be made up.

Here's my problem with points scoring. This was an actual District race in 2012. Two cars tied for 3rd place. The cars were put in Lane 1 and Lane 2. They raced and they tied. A mistake was now made by the adults. Instead of switching lanes they moved the cars down a lane and are now running on Lane #2 and Lane #3, a totally different race. Lane #3 lost. Did he actually lose? If they both had run the same course would he have won? This was a mistake by the adults but if they had been scoring with Elapsed Time during regulation racing the situation probably would not have happened.

District Race in 2013. Two cars tied for 2nd place, one of them being one of my scouts. The adults decided to put the cars in Lane #3 and Lane #4. My scout lost and the other scout was declared the 2nd place winner. Again, mistake by Adults. Situation would not have happened had they been running Elapsed Time during regulation racing.

Many years ago my friends son was racing in the Swan Creek District. Again, points scoring. Out of 10 races Kyle lost 1 race. All of a sudden racing stopped and it was announced there was a 3 way tie for 1st place. WHAT ????? Kyle got 4th place.
I talked to the leader of the program and in later years the cars ran more races and racing became more fair. Had they been running Elapsed Time Kyle might have been in 2nd place.

Those are my problems with points scoring. I agree it is human error but with Elapsed Time the chance of a tie is much less.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Stan Pope » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:18 am

Speedster wrote:We all run against the #1 car so we're not faced with that problem. I don't understand why mismatched lanes would make any difference since we're all covering the same course. ...
I agree it is human error but with Elapsed Time the chance of a tie is much less.
Actually, with a "single round robin" (which is the simplest form for which you can say, "We all run against the #1 car.") there is a small error rate for points racing. It is resolved if the format is "double round robin."

With time scoring, it takes more skill by the race organizers to avoid accuracy issues. And times scoring hides many of those issues from observers. For instance, consider the "laser start gate" analysis from a few months ago. The fact that you could tell that the results were not accurately determined tells me that the points system works when its procedures are knowledgeably applied. And no system works if knowledge is lacking.


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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Darin McGrew » Sat Jun 22, 2013 8:48 pm

Speedster wrote:Here's my problem with points scoring. This was an actual District race in 2012. Two cars tied for 3rd place. The cars were put in Lane 1 and Lane 2. They raced and they tied. A mistake was now made by the adults. Instead of switching lanes they moved the cars down a lane and are now running on Lane #2 and Lane #3, a totally different race. Lane #3 lost. Did he actually lose? If they both had run the same course would he have won?
FWIW, when we resolve ties, we run the cars twice, with the cars reversed the second time. (We use the lanes that are the closest, based on the stats produced by our race software.) If the cars are still tied (each wins one race), then we declare a tie and arrange to get another trophy/medal as soon as possible.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Speedster » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:17 am

I agree, Darin. That is what should have been done in the two Commodore Perry District races.



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Re: Fairly basic question about race divisions

Post by Rukkian » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:59 am

I guess I am biased, as I have never been with a pack that had a decent track, so times really never made sense, although I think our current pack may finally be getting a new besttrack this year. With older tracks that rely on a starter to open the gate, instead of just releasing it, timing can be an issue, as there are consistency issues. Especially when we swap out people to let volunteers have some variety.

I also think that times are somewhat less exciting, since the race you are currently in means nothing.



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