Opinions of the group

General topics of interest to racers and race coordinators alike.
Ignacious
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Opinions of the group

Post by Ignacious » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:50 pm

Greeting fellow PWD junkies. I have a question that I'd like some input on because as someone involved I don't trust my own bias. We just did our district race yesterday and my son did exactly as expected and as we've done in years past, 2nd in his group. We don't go to districts with the expectations of trophies, we go for the competition. In fact the reason I started urging my kids to go to the district level is because after besting the pack for several years in a row, the boys were getting cocky and after experiencing the thrill of victory for so many years it was time they tasted the agony of defeat. They needed to learn to be as gracious at losing as they were thrilled by winning. And thankfully my son has proven he can do both well.

This is the third year we've done districts and one thing I found troubling is their inspection process is not nearly as stringent as our pack event. Essentially they checked weight, length, width and height and if those were all good, your set. But as anyone with experience with both stock BSA and Outlaw style races knows, if someone wants to cheat, the wheels and axles will be the focal point for increasing speed. I've never made an issue of it because all the scouts were running times that were well within what can be expected of a stock BSA kit using BSA standard rules on a given track. Usually in the 2.3 second area and up.

Up until now the district has been using a 32' Pientadosi style maple track with a judge timer that was in serious need of retirement. The track was provided by someone associated with scouting but was not affiliated with any pack within the district. and the inspection and monitoring of the event was conducted by the district leadership again with no affiliation with any pack within the group. The fastest car at the districts was usually built by a scout from a pack up north that came from a family of league racers both in BSA stock and outlaw. But as his times were always consistent with expectations there was never any reason to suspect impropriety. They build fast cars, good for them.

This year was very different. We arrive at districts to find a brand new 42' Best Track with a Champ timer. Excellent! The track was graciously provided by that very same pack from up north. Because of some squabbles within the district most of the volunteers quit which resulted in the district executive quitting as well. The volunteers, especially those doing check-ins and inspection were all new to pinewood. The brand new district executive started the event telling the crowd this was her first PWD event, and instead of the normal district leadership overseeing the race, the leadership was provided by the same pack from up north. So the only experienced leadership available came from one pack, who also provided the track, ran the software, monitored the race and oversaw the impound that had been moved from its usual position easily accessible to the crowd for viewing and taking pictures to a corner behind the start gate that was filled with people from said pack up north. While odd, none of this is any proof of impropriety.

Then the racing started. Again most of the cars ran within what can be expected from the BSA kit and rules. About the 3.02 second race and up. Then the scout who normally wins the event loaded his car in the gate. Did I mention his grandfather was part of the leadership and helped him build the car? Something grandpa admitted to me at the last district event. His first run is in mid 2.93 range and he maintained that range for all 8 of his races. The crowd was in awe, the leadership acted is if it was expected and I seemed to be the only person in the room that was in absolute shock. I kept my act together, I didn't question the results at the time but big red flags went up for me while everyone else seemed oblivious to it. A kid that normally bests the field by a few hundredths of a second is now besting the field by almost 1/10th of a second now that there is a Fastest of the District award in play.

I wanted to bring this to the attention of the leadership but they were either his blood family, leaders within his pack or completely new to pinewood. I wasn't going to accomplish anything other than to ruin the event for the scouts, look like a Randy Marsh and likely be told "Objections duly noted, racing continues, don't like it, take it to the district".

So I did take it to the district. BUT only after double checking the dimensions of the track, comparing it with that used by the NPWDRL and confirming districts were using the exact same brand track with the exact specifications used by the NPWDRL. Then I went to the 2016 National Record holders section. A 10 year old using a basic BSA kit, supposedly complying with district BSA rules managed to match or best the 2016 national record holders in 3 modified classes and within 2 hundredths of a second from a 4th. I brought this to the attention of district leadership, including his numbers vs. the pros and so far all I've gotten is a bunch of circle-the-wagons double speak about how it's all about the kids. Maybe the track is different and maybe our district is just that good. Along with assurances by people who weren't there that they trusted the people conducting the race and were satisfied that it was done in a fair manner to the best of everyone's abilities.

I'm not going set my hair on fire over a race my kid was happy with and wasn't going to win anyway. Rather than demanding some sort of satisfaction that will only aggravate the situation and taint the reputation of the race, I instead chose to volunteer to work the inspection table for future district PWD events. But I won't hold my breath for an invitation.

I'm asking for some unbiased input here. Does this whole situation pass the smell test or am I over reacting here? I'm sorry for the length but I wanted to give a detailed description of the facts. Thank you to anyone who responds in advance. And forgive me if this is in the wrong section, admittedly it's been a while since I've visited

Ignacious



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by davet » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:15 am

Fast cars can happen. The adult should help the kid build the car. We set track record with a 2.90 at our District last year with LED lights on a 42' Best Track and took 1st at NSC Council race. A couple days after the District race I send an e-mail to the coordinator making a few check-in suggestions as the tech folks didn't know our NorthernStar Council rules and she asked me to help this year. I said I would. I start getting e-mails from the coordinator's husband saying our car should've been DQ'd because of the lights and four parents complained...so he says. He never mentioned it to us at the race. Four parents complaining about one car is a big deal. They should've brought it to our attention and we would've taped over the lights. He went on to tell me that our car was parent-engineered and that my son couldn't have enjoyed himself. He cusses me out over e-mail and berates my parenting style. I sent the entire e-mail exchange to the District head and he apologized for this guy.
His wife is still in charge this year and when I tell her a couple weeks ago I'm not going to help due to her husband's actions she b*#!*%'s me out over e-mail.

It's easy to get upset, though. We were at the District race our first year with an 8-wheeled tank. My boy puts it on the table at check-in and some dad loitering at check-in says loudly enough for others to look at us, "He's got 8 wheels. That's against the rules!" or something to that effect. He must have thought we had 8 tiny motors. During that race there were 2 heats where each of those fours had times close to each other but all were 1 second faster than everyone else's. Other heats they didn't get similar times. Needless to say, those 8 kids were the top 8 racers for the day. I didn't say anything and neither did another dad that noticed it. I used it as a teaching moment for my boy.

I guess my point is that when I offered constructive criticism and offered to help it can still get taken the wrong way and turn into a big mess. Timing issues happen too whether you realize them at the time or not.

I wouldn't get upset over a fast car unless you know it was illegal. Be humble and ask the dad if he could give you any advice or maybe look at your car for you. We went from not placing in our den our second year to setting District record the next year with a 2.92 and taking 7th at the NSC Council race, all on stock parts. All of our cars were tuned on the kitchen table. This site has the answers to speed. Maybe that fast car is on this site.

By the way...welcome to DerbyTalk. Any pics of your car?
Last edited by davet on Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:36 am

Do your rules allow oil? Did you run oil? Did you rail ride? Are you running on 3 wheels? Do you own the identical track or a single lane test track that is identical?
I like to look at the Mid America times the year I raced Adult graphite. I spent over $100 for the best parts money could by. Money was no object. Now you tell me with my genius, super, super skill in building pinewood derby cars, Identical track I had access to, reading over and over Doc Jobe's BIG green book, how in the world could I have ended up in 19th place ? Adding insult to injury, my good friend Sporty tuned his car on his kitchen floor and took 6th place. Eighteen cars were faster than me that day. Did they all cheat? Not hardly. The rules are so lenient I don't know how you could cheat even if you wanted to. After that you would have to get by the Mid America inspectors. I don't see that happening.

I'm going to guess with that long of a track the scout had superior wheel and axle prep and followed all the Laws of Physics perfectly. If there was cheating by someone involved in building that car, what a terrible thing to have to live with the rest of your life. Do you have a picture of that car? Maybe I'll learn something.
Peace
Speedster



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by davet » Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:36 am

After re-reading your initial post I see another observation you had about the fast kid now being much faster than in the past. When we ran our Pack races our car was not as aggressive as it could be. If we qualified for Districts we got more aggressive with weighting and even removed more wood from the car. If we qualified for Council we would remove even more wood and get more aggressive with COM. We didn't have a test track so the races were our testing grounds.
This is how were were able to be faster at Districts and Council than our regular Pack Champion.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Ignacious » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:42 am

Thanks for the input guys. I'll try to address your issues.

Davet- I understand fast cars can happen. The first year we built a car for our pack event, we built it backwards, using fishing sinkers for weight and I tuned it on my kitchen table no canting, no toeing, just a straight running door stop. We ended up besting the 800lb gorilla in the pack and no one was more surprised than I was. I was just trying to make sure it got down that track and ended up somewhere in the middle of the pack so the kid wouldn't be embarrassed. BUT we only won by 2 hundredths of a second.

When I brought this to the attention of the district chair, I told him straight up that I didn't want to do this but there were things that simply could not be ignored and deserved some inquiry. I'm not demanding any action be taken, sanctions, punishment or amending the results but changes needed to be made. Instead, knowing how short they are on leadership and volunteers I offered my services at inspection if they'll have me and if an anomaly like this occurs again, I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong and apologize in front of the world. I've gotten no response. I chose him in particular because he got his start as an adult volunteer for the PWD because he too had noticed discrepancies in PWD events and decided there needed to be changes.

I'm not a rule [censored]. Our rules prohibit adjustments after check in but after one scout made the mistake of pinching his back wheels after the first race and ended up stopping dead in the middle of the track for the next two, when the leadership asked if anyone minded if they make adjustments, I was the first and loudest to chime in "Let him fix it".

I've never in my life gotten upset or complained about losing a pinewood race. Even if other members might have been cheating, the times were always well within what can be expected. Even when our scoutmaster, who's son came in second to us two years in a row, decided on the fly with nothing in the rules and no input from anyone, to have a Final Race off to determine the winner when the rules clearly stated it would be done by race times. This put us in a position where our son had to best the pack twice and the other racers only had to best him once. I didn't complain. I had to hold my wife back from ripping his head off but I told her he's a parent like us. It might be a [censored] move but I have confidence in the car and we won anyway. Instead I volunteered to do the rules and included the event in them.

I've spoken and shook hands with grandpa in years past. It's always been respectful and congratulatory even though I knew he built the car. We all do to a certain extent. But our district rules put extra emphasis in pointing out that the child should build the car with minimal adult input. Supervision only and they ask each scout at check in if they built the car. Our old district exec they do monthly events in their pack both BSA and outlaw. Again they run a good program, more power to them. BUT they have always been very close to the vest about other racers getting a good look at the car. It came out of the box at check in, went straight to impound and then one of the family members would park themselves at the impound and warn people not to get to close to the cars so as not to damage them. Like I shoot laser beams from my eyes. Again, so what, the times are right.

Speedster- Our event prohibits liquid lubricants. graphite or teflon only. We rail ride, and run on three wheels. But again it wasn't about my kid, whether this kid ran 2.93's or broke the sound barrier, it wasn't going to change where my kid ended up. But as I said above, his pack owns the track used at districts, the previous district exec told me he doubts the track ever comes down, the kids grandpa is pack leadership, so they don't own an identical track they own THE track that is used at districts and have the opportunity to tune their cars to that specific track before the district event. This I have an issue with as well. Before the track belonged to an outside party and no one had access to it before districts. We know they've been tuning their cars to their previous track for years while I'm tuning on a 6' piece of melamine and we've always stayed competitive and again if they have a track available for testing more power to them, but it wasn't the district track. But like I said before, in previous years scouts only raced within their groups, this year we had a Fastest of the District and suddenly there's an outlier.

As I explained to Davet it's always been hard to get a good look at the car. I can tell you this, it is insanely thin to be constructed from the BSA kit without suffering serious structural integrity issue. I estimate 1/8" which doesn't clear the axle slot by a sheet of paper and I saw no visible hump around the front end for axle support. Starting around the back axle slot the thickness increased to 3/8" and the weight pocket appeared to be from the axle back. They ran plastic hollow fenders like us so I can guess the extreme COM could be compensated by filling the fenders with tungsten putty. I know some replace the kit with poplar or use model aircraft plywood for reinforcement so that's not an issue for me.

I watched a few inspection and not once did anyone ever check the interior wheel walls, look for lettering, check the outside for coned hubs or the axle heads for grooves or checked for the absence of graphite (indicating a possible oil based lube) things we always check for at the pack level.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by davet » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:28 pm

I hear you. It seems your situation mirrors what we've encountered at Districts and I'm sure hundreds others around the country. It is a tough decision as to whether to say anything and if you do, how to do it without upsetting anyone. I agree,though, that when something is wrong, you may be bringing something up they didn't know about.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:49 pm

He tried to break the Laws of Physics, Why in the world would any car built for speed be as high as 3/8". There would be no reason for it and definitely reasons for not having it. Fenders? Tungsten putty in the Fenders? What would be wrong or against the rules for that?
Oil ? Now that's a problem and I don't know how it can be solved. Go Racing, Do your best and go on with life. You have a clear conscience. To Heck with a $5.00 trophy and cheating if that is what happened.
Have Fun with your son.
Cheers,
Speedster



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Ignacious » Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:39 am

Speedster I hear you. I have no problems with any of it. Dimensions or putty in the fenders. It's all legal and I have no problem with it. You asked for the specs and I was just re-iterating what I saw, not complaining about it, and the 3/8" was a visual estimation from across the room. But there was kind of a perfect storm here. Lack of experienced leaders, shoddy inspections from the perspective of the individual (me) who does the inspections for our pack. Again, no one even looked for lettering or wall thickness on the inside of the wheel. A district exec who has never even seen a PWD race, volunteers brand new to the event and the leadership officiating the event coming from the kids pack or immediate family, the introduction of a brand new Fastest of the District. All of which grandpa knows because he organized the event. And a track provided by the same pack that stays up most of the year that they have unlimited access to for testing and tuning to perfection and they get to bring the home field advantage with them to districts. Suddenly a special needs kid that normally bests his group by a few hundredths of a second is now besting the entire field by 1/10 and breaking outlaw records. And if you point out this anomaly, you are bringing it to grandpa and other members of his pack who will say "objection noted, racing continues, don't like it, take it to the district". Part of the reason I got into this was because our own pack cubmaster tried to pull a fast one for the sake of his kid and I caught him and beat him anyway. We are going on with life and I have clear conscience knowing I called it out but will never win. I am an assistant leader from a small pack making charges against a cubmaster with a great recruitment program, whose numbers are up and fundraising is up which means more money for the district AND he's providing the brand new Cadillac of a track either pro bono or at little cost. I could have absolute proof and no one would do anything about in an organization where numbers and money outweight the spirit and purpose.It was never about trophies we weren't going to win anyway. I'm not just a parent I'm also a leader within the organization that sees a serious problem with the way the district has run this event or not run it since none of them were there. I don't mind 800lb gorillas in the room, I welcome them, they make the whole field faster. I do mind 800lb gorillas putting their thumbs on the scale and calling it fair and lecturing others about the spirit or purpose of the event. The districts attitude is ignorance is bliss, as long as no one else complained or noticed and your kid took a trophy, shut up and don't rock the boat. I didn't come here to seek means of resolving this problem. I came here to check my own bias. To see what impartial people felt about it and if I was right that this is very odd and might need to be addressed in future events.

Thanks again guys.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:40 am

I definitely agree with that track situation. If someone is using it then everyone should have access to it. I doubt it would change the outcome but things should be as fair as we can make them.
I wish you the very best.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by ZebsRacing » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:05 pm

Ignacious wrote:Greeting fellow PWD junkies. I have a question that I'd like some input on because as someone involved I don't trust my own bias. We just did our district race yesterday and my son did exactly as expected and as we've done in years past, 2nd in his group. We don't go to districts with the expectations of trophies, we go for the competition. In fact the reason I started urging my kids to go to the district level is because after besting the pack for several years in a row, the boys were getting cocky and after experiencing the thrill of victory for so many years it was time they tasted the agony of defeat. They needed to learn to be as gracious at losing as they were thrilled by winning. And thankfully my son has proven he can do both well.

This is the third year we've done districts and one thing I found troubling is their inspection process is not nearly as stringent as our pack event. Essentially they checked weight, length, width and height and if those were all good, your set. But as anyone with experience with both stock BSA and Outlaw style races knows, if someone wants to cheat, the wheels and axles will be the focal point for increasing speed. I've never made an issue of it because all the scouts were running times that were well within what can be expected of a stock BSA kit using BSA standard rules on a given track. Usually in the 2.3 second area and up.

Up until now the district has been using a 32' Pientadosi style maple track with a judge timer that was in serious need of retirement. The track was provided by someone associated with scouting but was not affiliated with any pack within the district. and the inspection and monitoring of the event was conducted by the district leadership again with no affiliation with any pack within the group. The fastest car at the districts was usually built by a scout from a pack up north that came from a family of league racers both in BSA stock and outlaw. But as his times were always consistent with expectations there was never any reason to suspect impropriety. They build fast cars, good for them.

This year was very different. We arrive at districts to find a brand new 42' Best Track with a Champ timer. Excellent! The track was graciously provided by that very same pack from up north. Because of some squabbles within the district most of the volunteers quit which resulted in the district executive quitting as well. The volunteers, especially those doing check-ins and inspection were all new to pinewood. The brand new district executive started the event telling the crowd this was her first PWD event, and instead of the normal district leadership overseeing the race, the leadership was provided by the same pack from up north. So the only experienced leadership available came from one pack, who also provided the track, ran the software, monitored the race and oversaw the impound that had been moved from its usual position easily accessible to the crowd for viewing and taking pictures to a corner behind the start gate that was filled with people from said pack up north. While odd, none of this is any proof of impropriety.

Then the racing started. Again most of the cars ran within what can be expected from the BSA kit and rules. About the 3.02 second race and up. Then the scout who normally wins the event loaded his car in the gate. Did I mention his grandfather was part of the leadership and helped him build the car? Something grandpa admitted to me at the last district event. His first run is in mid 2.93 range and he maintained that range for all 8 of his races. The crowd was in awe, the leadership acted is if it was expected and I seemed to be the only person in the room that was in absolute shock. I kept my act together, I didn't question the results at the time but big red flags went up for me while everyone else seemed oblivious to it. A kid that normally bests the field by a few hundredths of a second is now besting the field by almost 1/10th of a second now that there is a Fastest of the District award in play.

I wanted to bring this to the attention of the leadership but they were either his blood family, leaders within his pack or completely new to pinewood. I wasn't going to accomplish anything other than to ruin the event for the scouts, look like a Randy Marsh and likely be told "Objections duly noted, racing continues, don't like it, take it to the district".

So I did take it to the district. BUT only after double checking the dimensions of the track, comparing it with that used by the NPWDRL and confirming districts were using the exact same brand track with the exact specifications used by the NPWDRL. Then I went to the 2016 National Record holders section. A 10 year old using a basic BSA kit, supposedly complying with district BSA rules managed to match or best the 2016 national record holders in 3 modified classes and within 2 hundredths of a second from a 4th. I brought this to the attention of district leadership, including his numbers vs. the pros and so far all I've gotten is a bunch of circle-the-wagons double speak about how it's all about the kids. Maybe the track is different and maybe our district is just that good. Along with assurances by people who weren't there that they trusted the people conducting the race and were satisfied that it was done in a fair manner to the best of everyone's abilities.

I'm not going set my hair on fire over a race my kid was happy with and wasn't going to win anyway. Rather than demanding some sort of satisfaction that will only aggravate the situation and taint the reputation of the race, I instead chose to volunteer to work the inspection table for future district PWD events. But I won't hold my breath for an invitation.

I'm asking for some unbiased input here. Does this whole situation pass the smell test or am I over reacting here? I'm sorry for the length but I wanted to give a detailed description of the facts. Thank you to anyone who responds in advance. And forgive me if this is in the wrong section, admittedly it's been a while since I've visited

Ignacious
You my friend are not alone, this weekend was my sons Districts, and there was some pretty interesting things going on, so it seems that (at least in my case) that certain Packs have more influence over the District derby than others. Bringing in the home track etc. Etc. But the biggest thing is the feeling that come off is, the old "its my ball my rules" of the playground. I cannot complain the results as my son took 3rd overall (alignment!) And the 1st and 2nd obviously had some concerning alterations (slightly canted) anyways. Next year will drive us to do better, even if its all for nothing as Districts is a prestigious honor, and trust me some parent will do whatever it takes (or packs) to attain it.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by ZebsRacing » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:16 pm

Speedster,

Your the man! 16th? Makes me know id take like 40th!



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:01 am

ZR, Thank you for your Generosity. It was actually 19th. Something that did make me feel good. A lot of racers that were faster than me were folks on Derbytalk. Those guys REALLY know how to build cars.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by ZebsRacing » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:49 pm

Apologies Speedster, as for me, I am going to wait a few years before I open that can of worms! I suppose ill have plenty of time to race when the boys all move on to Boy Scouts.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by Speedster » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:34 am

The Mid America is for everybody. They have several Scout classes, kids classes, adult classes, truck classes, etc. Click on their website and look around. It's Free.



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Re: Opinions of the group

Post by ZebsRacing » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:56 pm

Yes we are planning on going but only the boys racing this year. I myself have plenty to learn yet before I compete with other pineheads.



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