Detecting timed racing "crack"

Discussions on buying or building timers, solenoid start gates, light trees, weigh scales, and other race related electronics.
ExtremePWD
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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by ExtremePWD » Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:50 pm

Our pack traditionally has used a double elimination format (ughh). This year we have bought a new track and timer. I am working on the committee to determine the new race format. So far we are in agreement that we will not use the actual times for the general competition. There may be a head to head tie breaking situation that could use it but in general we will not use the actual times. I talked to my brother who's pack uses the actual times and runs once in each lane and totals all four to determine the low time / winner. He said there is general trust that the timers are correct and he was not aware of anyone ever questioning the accuracy of the results. There's one data point for you.



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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Stan Pope » Sun Nov 23, 2003 8:48 pm

ExtremePWD wrote:Our pack traditionally has used a double elimination format (ughh).
Triple ugh!!!! Since you need to find four racing representatives in each grade! 3rd and 4th places from a DE race are pretty tenuous!

Your grade groups are a bit small for a Quad-elim No-Chart to work well. Your grade groups are too big for a simple final standings competition, but a two stage affair will give excellent accuracy and lots of racing for the masses. If you want more info on these, send me an email and I'll give you a referece.

Cheats hopefully only happen in a very small percentage of opportunities, probably well less than 1%. Consequently, reports of successes (absence of suspected cheats) really don't tell us much. The presence of such cheats, especially if discovered or suspected after the fact, can be devastating to a unit's program ... people bailing out in droves.


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Jungle Jim » Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:27 pm

terryep wrote: Question, I've never experienced a timed derby any comments on the spirit of fairness (perceived) as compared to a placement derby?

Terry
We ran the races for years using placement. One year, about 6-7 years ago, they decided to bring in a computer system that a Pack from another District had been using for use at our Council race. Everyone ran down the track 3 times in each lane (a three lane track) and that was it! Each Scout was then told their time at the end of the race. Talk about unhappy people :!: The Scouts didn't really get to race. And as such nothing is reaffirmed. Needless to say, this D.E. was never allowed to make such decisions again :wink:


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Stan Pope
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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Nov 26, 2003 11:15 am

Jungle Jim wrote:We ran the races for years using placement. One year, about 6-7 years ago, they decided to bring in a computer system that a Pack from another District had been using for use at our Council race. Everyone ran down the track 3 times in each lane (a three lane track) and that was it! Each Scout was then told their time at the end of the race. Talk about unhappy people :!: The Scouts didn't really get to race. And as such nothing is reaffirmed. Needless to say, this D.E. was never allowed to make such decisions again :wink:
Thank you for sharing that "horror story," JJ.

As a general rule, the professional corps in Scouting are not "program specialists." They are not expected to be. In fact, in many councils they are discouraged from being program specialists!


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Jungle Jim » Wed Nov 26, 2003 11:18 pm

Stan Pope wrote: As a general rule, the professional corps in Scouting are not "program specialists." They are not expected to be. In fact, in many councils they are discouraged from being program specialists!
I would say a "Harumph, Harumph" is in order here :lol:


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by ABoelow » Wed Dec 10, 2003 12:14 am

I may be a little out of the loop here, are you guys talking about pinewood derby cars???, If there is anyone out there that has to win a car race that badly to insert some sort of electronic bug, then I belive that our councils have far greater problems then PW races. This whole forum is really scary to think that anyone cares that much about this type of race.


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by gpraceman » Wed Dec 10, 2003 12:46 am

ABoelow wrote:I may be a little out of the loop here, are you guys talking about pinewood derby cars???, If there is anyone out there that has to win a car race that badly to insert some sort of electronic bug, then I belive that our councils have far greater problems then PW races. This whole forum is really scary to think that anyone cares that much about this type of race.
Personally, I believe the scenario of someone manipulating the timing system like this to be a very unlikely and one I would not worry about. It, however, is not out of the realm of possibility. With all of the races that are run in a year for Cub Scouts, Awana, Royal Rangers and so on, there is bound to be someone (some parent) who will try to get the advantage at all costs, though I think they would pick an easier way to cheat.


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Dec 10, 2003 11:43 am

Jungle Jim wrote:
Stan Pope wrote: As a general rule, the professional corps in Scouting are not "program specialists." They are not expected to be. In fact, in many councils they are discouraged from being program specialists!
I would say a "Harumph, Harumph" is in order here :lol:
Sorry, I missed this originally, JJ!

Not sure exactly what a "Harumph, Harumph" means, but I think it involves disagreement with some aspect. In any event, perhaps some more background will help.

My comment is based on the traditional breakdown of functions within the councils and districts into Membership, Finance, Program and Unit Service. The role of the professional (paid) Scouter is supposed to be to recruit volunteers to perform all of those functions and to know enough about each of those functions to monitor and support the volunteers.

The annual performance review of the professional Scouter includes specific quantitative measures for Membership (number of units, number of scouts, growth in numbers) and Finance (FOS $ targets reached). Program might be evaluated by presence or absence of program items (Day Camp held - Y/N; Spring or Fall Camporee held - Y/N; Pinewood Derby held - Y/N; Training courses conducted - Y/N) and whether or not event budgets were prepared and met, but quality measures are not very exact. Unit Service measures may include the number of Unit Commissioners recruited, but measurements of "unit health" are not very exact, and those measures which are exact tend to show up in the Membership measures.

Given these measures of success or failure, the professional Scouter must carefully budget his time and effort.

Besides, the Program Function is the part that most of us volunteers find the most fun in doing! I don't find any "fun" in giving FOS presentations and asking already financially challenged families to donate another $75 to $200 this year! I do enjoy trying to make this year's PWD as good an experience for our district's Cub Scouts as I possibly can make it! Most of my fellow volunteers feel equally strongly about the content of the programs that they work.


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Rainman » Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:13 am

Wow. Anyone remember the Beverly Hillbillies movie? There is a scene where "miss Jane" rattles off some fancy talk. Jethro's reply was (with a dumbfounded stare) "Miss Jane I have no idea what you just said".


I'm having a Jethro moment.



This whole topic has an "air" of the Art Bell radio show. I have to admitt, I really do love this site and have read every post.


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Packdude » Wed Mar 08, 2006 1:33 pm

As a newbie to the site, but an (I like to think) experienced PWD chair, I don't see the problem with running a derby based on time. I definately don't see the 'horror' in Jungle Jim's story (granted...it was from almost 3 years ago). Perhaps I just haven't seen the light yet. The first derby I attended was ran on a track with a timer. Later that year we moved and switched packs. The new pack had two 3 lane tracks and ran heats on both tracks using double elimination. From weigh-in/registration to awards presentation, we were there for about 6-7 hours. The next year, a fellow scouter in the pack came up with a new plan, I believe using a method he found online from Stan. The derby went much faster, but still took a little over 4 hours. The following year, we purchased a DT8000 from Newbold and DerbyMaster. We joined the two 3-lane tracks into one 6-lane track. Using the 'lane rotation' schedule in DM, every car raced once in every lane. We only ran one 'round', but could have ran more. We determined the winner based on average time and awarded medals to the top three finishers in each rank. The parents chose not to run another 'overall' race with the top 3 in each rank to determine an overall winner. Instead, they decided to use the times already scored to determine the overall winner. I have ran derbies for other packs and for our district where we also use lane rotation, but raced each rank on it's own and ran another race with the rank winners to determine the overall winner. All this was based on average time. I did check a couple of derby results and compare the 'points' vs 'time' and they were the same. Are you saying that you have had derbies where the car with the fastest average time did not also have the most points? Or is there something else here that I'm missing? I'm especially curious since I am in charge of our district derby in about a week and a half. If there is a better way, I'm all ears.
ps, regarding the post about the district owning a timer, it is my understanding that districts are not allowed to 'own' property. Perhaps the council could own it and loan it out to the districts, but that would be a logistical nightmare.



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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by davem » Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:19 am

Packdude,

Last year's regional race my son's car went undefeated.
He took 3rd place as his total cumulative time was more than the cars who took 1st and 2nd. He had no sour grapes because the rules were total [censored] time.

However, his car beat the 1st and 2nd place cars in head to head races.

The computer displayed both points and cumulative time. Under points, he would have taken 1st, but under cumulative time, he took 3rd. I was probably the only one at the race who noticed this. However, since the organizers did a good job up front of explaining that the scoring was based on total cumulative time, no one perceived it as "unfair".

I had always been in the "total [censored] time" camp. But I believe Stan made a previous post that the danger of this method is extreme sensativity to one bad run / track mishap.



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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by gpraceman » Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:27 am

davem wrote:I had always been in the "total [censored] time" camp. But I believe Stan made a previous post that the danger of this method is extreme sensativity to one bad run / track mishap.
I like having the option to throw out the worst time for each racer so one bad run will not knock a racer out of a trophy. The track issues to me are preventable (keeping people away form the track/timer, making sure the start gate opens quickly and consistently regardless of the operator, and not using a laser gate unless the pins break the beam not the cars).


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by rdeis » Tue May 16, 2006 1:43 pm

This is off topic, but I'm interested in it- maybe a new thread?

I've now seen 2 race meets, both scored by time, and had some discussion of a 3 others, also scored by time.

The timer is generally perceived as being scientific and infallible by the parents, and is trusted far more than it should be. Were I to advocate a points system for next year, I think I'd get lots of resistance from people afraid of the points introducing error.

The only percieved problem with scoring is that a car which jumps lanes or had an aberrant bad time for some reason finishes out of the medals even if most of its heats were very, very fast. (But a points system wouldn't change that!) We've talked about dropping a score to mitigate this problem, but as I said it's not unique to timers, and may not be worth trying to "mitigate" at all...

I found another problem unrelated to scoring. In the two events I've seen, the kids were disconnected from the racing.

In one of them, the majority of cars ran their heats in quick succession, so the scout was actively watching his car for about 2 minutes of the 4 hours, and knew with certainty that his car wasn't running for the other 3:58. Parents, too, of course. He also knew that his finish order meant nothing to his final standing, which was a little confusing- many cars won all their heats and finished poorly overall.

In the other event, the heats were fairly well distributed into "rounds," so there was anticipation of your heat in a round, then some time off waiting for the next round to start. Overall score was also posted immediately after each heat, so you could see how you were doing time-wise instead of wondering how your finish order might indicarte your standings. That was much better- but since heat finish order didn't matter, parents and scouts that were running off the pace from lead cars lost hope and interest in the later rounds.

The discussions I've read here about points based systems seem a lot more exciting to participate in, as long as they are thorough enough to appear fair.

I hope to combine the two somehow- perhaps giving a small heat-winner award for every heat (McD's ice cream cupon or something) to keep interest up through the end, while relying on time for the big trophies.



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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by Stan Pope » Tue May 16, 2006 3:24 pm

davem wrote:Last year's regional race my son's car went undefeated.
He took 3rd place as his total cumulative time was more than the cars who took 1st and 2nd. He had no sour grapes because the rules were total [censored] time.

However, his car beat the 1st and 2nd place cars in head to head races.
It is good when the racing scheme allows timed results to be verified or questioned based on head-to-head results. This is why a scheduling scheme such as Young&Pope (PPN) is a stronger choice than a simple sequential rotation in which each scout brings his car up for a series of runs in each lane and then sits back and watches.

Timed and points results will correlate well, but not exactly. Each emphasizes slightly different aspects of speed and penalizes deviations from their ideal differently. When the results do not correlate, then it is worth looking to see why. Is it because of inherent variance in the car? Is it because of a bad part of the track to which your car has an affinity? Is it because of poor start gate operation or defects in the start gate? Is it because of poor finish line operation. (I saw several of these in the timing of my Grandson's races ... but it didn't hurt because that competition was by cummulative heat points.)

If an observer can identify the cause of the difference with reasonable certainty, then he can "go away happy" that his favorite got a fair break.


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Re: Detecting timed racing "crack"

Post by SpinDoctor » Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:17 pm

Stan Pope wrote:
davem wrote:Last year's regional race my son's car went undefeated.
He took 3rd place as his total cumulative time was more than the cars who took 1st and 2nd. He had no sour grapes because the rules were total [censored] time.

However, his car beat the 1st and 2nd place cars in head to head races.
It is good when the racing scheme allows timed results to be verified or questioned based on head-to-head results. This is why a scheduling scheme such as Young&Pope (PPN) is a stronger choice than a simple sequential rotation in which each scout brings his car up for a series of runs in each lane and then sits back and watches.

Timed and points results will correlate well, but not exactly. Each emphasizes slightly different aspects of speed and penalizes deviations from their ideal differently. When the results do not correlate, then it is worth looking to see why. Is it because of inherent variance in the car? Is it because of a bad part of the track to which your car has an affinity? Is it because of poor start gate operation or defects in the start gate? Is it because of poor finish line operation. (I saw several of these in the timing of my Grandson's races ... but it didn't hurt because that competition was by cummulative heat points.)

If an observer can identify the cause of the difference with reasonable certainty, then he can "go away happy" that his favorite got a fair break.

From a Previous quote
"Could the operator of a manually operated gate accomplish the same effects by altering the rate at which the gate is opened? "

I know this is an old thread, but I believe the manual gate has a major impact in a timed event. We always have run placement in our pack and probably back when this thread was first started we had a good example. My son made a skateboard car (the following year everyone had one), which featured and elevated start. One race the gate was dropped just at the right speed that his car hit the trasition before the other cars cleared the pins. They reran that race and made an effort to drop the gate as quick as possible.



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