How many lanes should I get?

Discussions on buying, building or rehabbing a race track. Topics like plans, materials, tools, construction, finishing, commercially available tracks, and so on.
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gpraceman
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How many lanes should I get?

Post by gpraceman » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:36 pm

Each season, I have too many of my software customers with 6 and 8 lane tracks calling or emailing me that their race takes too long if all the racers run down each lane of the track. Well, IMO it is a waste of money to get anything more than a 4 lane track and here's why:

- Costs more to buy or build
- Harder to store
- Harder to setup
- Harder to transport
- Harder to keep sections in alignment across all lanes
- Harder to maintain
- Leads to a slower paced race (more cars to stage, load to the track, retrieve, and put back in their parking spots)
- Less flexibility in scheduling methods (above 6 lanes)
- For the slower racers, it feels worse being last place on a 6 or 8 lane track than it does on a 4 lane track

With a 4 lane track, you do actually have a bit more flexibility. If you can squeeze in an extra run down each lane of the track for each racer, that is great. However, if your number of racers grows to the point that you cannot do that, everyone will at least get 4 runs, which is a fair amount of racing.

So, if you are looking at getting a bigger track, you might want to reconsider. Bigger is not always better.


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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ah8tk
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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by ah8tk » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:37 pm

I agree 100%.



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by *5 J's* » Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:47 pm

I agree as well. I just had this converstion with somebody in the market for a new track. There started by saying the they wanted to move from a two lane to a four lane to speed things up.

I explained how four lanes could actually be slower than two, as a two lane track offers the option of two races for a car (once in each lane), four races (twice in each lane), six races (three in each lane), whereas a four lane track you have to run multiples of four - four races - eight races - etc.



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by gpraceman » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:21 pm

*5 J's* wrote:I explained how four lanes could actually be slower than two, as a two lane track offers the option of two races for a car (once in each lane), four races (twice in each lane), six races (three in each lane), whereas a four lane track you have to run multiples of four - four races - eight races - etc.
I'd have to disagree to a point. If your aim from the get go is to give each racer 4 runs down the track, it would be faster to do so on a 4 lane track than on a 2 lane track, since you have half the number of heats to stage. Even though you are staging 2 extra cars per heat, that is small in comparison to the time for the added heats on the 2 lane track.

My recommendation is basically for a 4 lane track. If time permits, give each racer at least two runs down each lane of the track. If only one run per lane can be squeezed in, then everyone at least gets 4 total runs. IMO, 3 total runs is not enough and 2 is no better than double elimination. I've seen 4 lane tracks work well for small numbers of racers as well as races with over 100 racers.


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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by *5 J's* » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:58 pm

Actaully I am looking at six, which is not practical on a four lane track - you would need to go to eight - therefore a longer race.



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by FatSebastian » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:17 pm

*5 J's* wrote:Actaully I am looking at six, which is not practical on a four lane track...
Twice on each lane of a 3-lane track (or ignore one of the lanes on a 4-lane track to make it effectively 3 lanes)? :scratching:



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:49 pm

Just because you have 4 lanes doesn't mean you must use all 4 lanes. It could, for instance be scheduled to run on 3 lanes, 2 times per lane for a total of 6 heats per racer.

The advantage to additional lanes is that it takes fewer runs to go head-to-head against the entire field. If the track has L lanes, then each heat that Johnny races he can face (L-1) others. Typically, we try to schedule Johny (and all the others) to run the same number of times in each lane, so after racing in each lane, Johny will have raced against L*(L-1) others. If Johny run N times in each lane, then at the end of the event, he will have raced N*L*(L-1) others.

N=1:
2 lanes (L=2) 2 others
3 lanes (L=3) 6 others
4 lanes (L=4) 12 others
...
N=2:
2 lanes (L=2) 4 others
3 lanes (L=3) 12 others
4 lanes (L=4) 24 others
...
N=3:
lanes (L=2) 6 others
3 lanes (L=3) 18 others
4 lanes (L=4) 38 others
...
Edit: Sorry this came "out of sequence" ... I "punched it up" and "sent it off" as I was standing up to go serve pie and ice cream to the assembled masses (well, just to the "in town" family, but they had recovered from my roast, potatoes, carrots, green beans and yeast rolls and were ready for dessert ... now!!) ... anyway, when I came back I saw that three other posts were pending and it wanted to know if I wanted to change anything because of them. I think that I "duped" an idea or two from other posts, but no big deal, I guess.

The main idea in this thread is that too few lanes is a problem (too few opponents) and too many lanes is a problem (hard to get lane equity in a few number of heats). Four lanes is a good economical middle ground.


Stan
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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by gpraceman » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:11 pm

Stan Pope wrote:Just because you have 4 lanes doesn't mean you must use all 4 lanes.
So very true! That is one of the things that I tell the 6 and 8 lane customers that contact me about their race taking too long. To make it more general. "Just because you have N lanes, doesn't mean you have to use all of them."

Though, after people spend all that money for a big track (and timer to match), they feel that they must use all of those lanes to get their money's worth. Oh well. That is why I try to tell anyone considering buying a big track to think it through some before you outlay all of that cash. A bigger track does not necessarily mean more racing for everyone if you cannot fit the racing into your allotted time.


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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: How many lanes should I get?

Post by *5 J's* » Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:08 am

FatSebastian wrote:
*5 J's* wrote:Actually I am looking at six, which is not practical on a four lane track...
Twice on each lane of a 3-lane track (or ignore one of the lanes on a 4-lane track to make it effectively 3 lanes)? :scratching:
Okay - maybe I should have said two lanes of USAGE vice a two lane track. Obviously you could have an eight lane track and only use two of them.

This will be the first year for us moving from an elimination format to a Perfect-N type. Considering our time restrictions, I'm going to try six races for each car. This seems to me to be an appropriate balance between time and adequate racing. Six races USING four lanes does not allow for equal lane usage. But FS you are correct - I could use three lanes and races each car down each lane twice or use two lanes and race each car down each lane three times. In effect - you are making the four lane track a three lane or two lane track respectively. ;)



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by AlabamaDan » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:53 pm

We have a 6 lane track and it's lots of fun, but big and cumbersome. It does seem to be alot of fun. Each car runs 6 times and there seem to be alot of heats and alot of different winners in heats. It's always a surprise as to who will win overall based on times.

If we had to buy again.....I'd consider a 4 lane.



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by tjwatc » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:30 pm

We came to the conclusion that we wanted a six lane track. We already were racing every car in every lane. Since we had 45 cars, it look 45 races .... When we did the math it was 45 races and 45 races. We simply wanted to cut down the time spent building / to the number of runs ratio. This way if the car took 12 hours to build .. it was 2 hours for every race, where as 4 lanes was 3 hours for every race ....

Our pack loves the 6 lane track and the feedback we got from our parents about the kids being more involved (2 additional races)

Just my $0.02



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by rpcarpe » Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:07 pm

We're moving up from a 3 Lane to a 4 Lane.
In the last two years we ran 2x on each lane, and with small packs it was not a problem.

Of the races I've seen and helped with, 4 Lanes seems just right. Thanks Randy!

On helping kids with slow cars... do a test run night with the opportunity to improve their car before the big race.
Remember, these are ALL prototypes. The last guys I saw that got a prototypes right was the A-Team and MacGyver.

A couple of years ago, a Dad and kid showed up early. Tested the car on the track, and it wouldn't even cross the finish line. Taught them to quickly lubricate and check alignment... they won every race (very small pack race).


My wife started a new support group... Widows of the Pinewood Derby.

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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by pack529holycross » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:14 pm

Point of parlimentary proceedure, but I would say to anyone having difficulty with event length that you have to remember that it is NOT the number of lanes, but the number of RACERS that determines the length of your event. The rule of thumb is the number of racers=number of races x the avg time between races = racing elapsed time. The software grades your performance as a crew by showing you the elapsed time BETWEEN RACES as well as the avg time between and overall race time from the first race to the last.

I would respectfully recommend you focus on your human hardware rather than the aluminum or wood hardware, in the following order of priority:

1. Are you using a master schedule? master schedules can reduce the TBH ( time between heats ) by not requiring cars from Heat A to be used to Heat B --- the net effect is that the cars in Heat B ( or c or d depending on how efficient you get ) can be ready for the Starting Staging person right after Heat A is completed. Master Schedules also insure that ranks are seeing their cars run every 7-10 minutes as the groups rotate ( one Heat per group ).. this insures that there will be a higher degree of attention span magic during the event. Downtime = unhappy time. The lower the amount of downtime, in my opinion, increases the experience even if the race is LONGER than before.

2. are you using staging trays? This, in conjunction with master schedules, should get you to a TBH of 30-45 seconds. If your TBH is above a minute, THATS where your event is losing the audience ( IMHO ). Make Sure you have several people with copies of the schedule to have many eyes on the cars both in the pits as well as the STaging area.

3. Are you numbering your cars in an easily visually defining way? We use numbers 100, 101, ----- for Tigers ONLY, 200 's for Wolves, 300's Bears, 400's WI, 500's WII, 600's, Siblings, 700's Adults. This has a few benefits --- you can instantly see if a car is in the right group without paper schedules. you can organize the cars in rows easily and make sure they are in the proper groups from the beginning because the numbers are grouped as well. lastly, you can easily get "lost and found" cars back to the right den afterwards without worrying about paper data.

4. Are you presenting an action adventure or a silent film? I will tell you that there is not more than a few seconds at our events where there ISNT some type of uptempo, jock jams type music playing... if you AREN'T using music during your event, you are depriving your event of FREEE xtra energy that comes from giving everyone the feeling that the event is moving along and energetic, even if you are fixing a computer problem or trying to find out why a car never made it on the schedule ( both have happened )... MUSIC IS YOUR FRIEND... repeat it twice a day MUSIC IS YOUR FRIEND....


I will tell you why I believe 6 is the perfect balance --- seeing your car race 6 times vs 4 times gives you 50% more opportunities to see the results of your work, 50% more opportunities for you to take pictures, 50% more opportunities to hear and see their names in lights and over the PA, and 50% more opportunities to have a personal experience within the event. It's just my opinion, but I get alot of kids and adults with smiles on their faces at our events.


A few other things we have done recently:

string two ropes between the basketball backboards and then criss cross a whole bunch of white xmas lights along the length, this plus ropelights underneath gave us "racing under the lights" last year -- just another element to be different than the year before.

Get a local oil change place to donate their empty cardboard oil cases to you... simple auto related decorations and props for under the track or on the trophy table.

Get a basic crossover bridge and use it as a first second third trophy podium for the kids to stand on as they get their awards.

KEEP every kid in each group up by you as you give out the awards, then do a group shot of each group for website or promotion later

Design a Patch for your event including the car that won last year, providing incentive to be the winner so your car can be on the patch next year.

This year is the 60th anniversary of Pinewood Derby -- Diamond Anniversary --- include diamond elements in everything, including your awards

Image

http://www.trophydepot.com/Diamond-Rise ... 0378_2682/



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Re: How many lanes should I get?

Post by gpraceman » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:23 pm

pack529holycross wrote:Point of parlimentary proceedure, but I would say to anyone having difficulty with event length that you have to remember that it is NOT the number of lanes, but the number of RACERS that determines the length of your event. The rule of thumb is the number of racers=number of races x the avg time between races = racing elapsed time. The software grades your performance as a crew by showing you the elapsed time BETWEEN RACES as well as the avg time between and overall race time from the first race to the last.
The floor recognizes the representative from Pack 529. :lol:

While the total number of racers does have the greatest impact on race duration, the total number of cars being staged, retrieved and put back in their parking spot can as well. It is certainly faster to load fewer cars onto the track for a heat than more. While a good race crew can crank out heats just as quick, even handling more cars per heat, but a less efficient crew may not be able to keep up as well.


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: How many lanes should I get?

Post by pack529holycross » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:18 pm

gpraceman wrote:
pack529holycross wrote:Point of parlimentary proceedure, but I would say to anyone having difficulty with event length that you have to remember that it is NOT the number of lanes, but the number of RACERS that determines the length of your event. The rule of thumb is the number of racers=number of races x the avg time between races = racing elapsed time. The software grades your performance as a crew by showing you the elapsed time BETWEEN RACES as well as the avg time between and overall race time from the first race to the last.
The floor recognizes the representative from Pack 529. :lol:

While the total number of racers does have the greatest impact on race duration, the total number of cars being staged, retrieved and put back in their parking spot can as well. It is certainly faster to load fewer cars onto the track for a heat than more. While a good race crew can crank out heats just as quick, even handling more cars per heat, but a less efficient crew may not be able to keep up as well.

I defer the remainder of my time to the representative from the Great State of Colorado.....

has there been any movement in the development of a touchscreen GUI for tablets, my friend?



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