Seeking advice for derby length

Discussions on race planning, preparations and how to run a "fair" and fun race.
korey99
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Seeking advice for derby length

Post by korey99 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:14 pm

Hello all-

Sorry, I'm single-handedly creating all the new posts lately.

I was wondering how long you all spend on a pinewood derby. We have 5 dens of between 2 and 10 kids, and I'm going to do perfect-n style race scheduling on a three lane track, probably 2 runs per lane. Using those races, we'll get the trophy winners for each den. Those winners will advance to the pack finals, which I figure we'll run the same way.

In the past, we've gotten started racing at 10:30, ran each den (double elimination with lots of byes, interspersed with random races for those already eliminated), had lunch, then did the pack finals.

I've had some feedback that the event shouldn't take so long. I think running each den through all at once (rather than interleaving dens), racing a perfect-n schedule (printed out ahead of time), and using a computer with GPRM will speed things up. Also, not having lunch or concessions, and starting earlier.

My questions:
Is this enough racing to make the kids happy? In the past, some kids raced twice and were out for the day.
If we're well-prepared, could we get through this all in 2.5 hours?

How long are your derbies, particularly for packs of this basic size (~35)?

Korey



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Stan Pope
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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by Stan Pope » Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:54 am

IMHO, double elimination is not nearly enough to keep the vast majority of them happy! Quintuple elimination comes closer. I'd not like to see less than once around on a 4 lane track or twice around on a 3 lane track. That would be at 4 or 6 heats per race car. If you can go twice around on 4 lanes you have "done your duty" I think.

If you follow your district traditions, you will have the youngsters staging their own cars. It takes about twice as long as if staff staged, but it is worth it.

My experience is that staging to a schedule (such as PPN) takes the youngsters about 75 seconds (1.25 minutes or 48 heats per hour) to 90 seconds (1.5 minutes) to complete a heat.

A PPN schedule in which each racer runs once in each lane requires as many heats as there are cars. Twice in each lane requires twice as many heats as there are cars. Sooo ... 35 racers * twice around * 1.25 is just under 90 minutes to about 105 minutes..

Now you have to add in Time for inspections and time for awards. At district, we overlap one age group's inspections with other groups' racing. Most packs do not (probably can not) do that, so add in 1 to 2 minutes inspection per car and 10 to 15 minutes per age group for awards (including figuring out who gets what) and a few minutes for pictures.

How many cars will participate in the finals? Add on time according to the above pattern depending on the number of racers in the finals.

Hint! If the youngsters stage their own cars, the starter, the other racers, and, maybe, an assistant starter should supervise staging closely to detect any interference with other racers. And have the youngsters in the heat stay close so that they can check after any suspected interference. Intentional interference is rare, but these are kids ... all arms and legs and hands which, sometimes, don't do exactly what their owners intend! Normally, I would ask the racers to stage their cars starting with the lane nearest to the starter. If one of the racers shows physical control limitations, then he should be asked to stage first in subsequent heats.


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korey99
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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by korey99 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 9:29 am

Thanks for your advice Stan. I agree with all of it. I'm glad to have your 75 seconds figure. I would have wrongly estimated lower.

I was torn about whether to go twice around or three times around on our three lane track, but when I tried generating charts for 3x, it didn't go well. I don't remember exactly, but there seemed to be a dead zone without good charts (PPN or better) around 10 racers three lanes. The more I've thought about it, even 2x around is more than last year's double elimination for most racers.

My goal is to be able to finish before lunch, that is, if it's possible to do so without negatively impacting the level of fun from last year. I think we're about on the border line with that.



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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by Darin McGrew » Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:03 pm

I don't have much to add to what Stan wrote. We've managed to give everyone 8 races (4 lanes, 2 races per lane), racing about 100 cars in 3-4 hours. That doesn't include the inspection and registration or the design judging (which occur on previous days), but it does include greetings, an explanation of the race system, runoffs, and award presentations. But we have a dedicated pit crew stage the cars, and the car owners just have to carry their cars from the finish line to the pit area.

When considering how many races is enough for a PPN system, consider the number of opponents each car has. For a twice down a 3 lane track, that's 6 races with 2 opponents per race, or 12 opponents total. If your largest group is 10 kids, then that will let each pair of cars race each other at least once.



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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by gpraceman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:33 pm

korey99 wrote:If we're well-prepared, could we get through this all in 2.5 hours?
That depends on a lot of things like race crew efficiency, race group size, race scheduling method, how much of the car handling are the kids doing, number of rounds of racing, scoring method, etc.

Race crew efficiency - It helps to print off your race schedules and give them to the crew helping get the cars ready for the next heat. That way they don't have to depend on viewing the On Deck list on a projector screen, as that list is not always displayed.

Race group size - If you have some very small dens, you might want to consider doing some combining. A limited number of racers in a race group can be a bit boring (same racers running against each other over and over) and it can end up slowing you down as you are always waiting on cars coming back from the finish line to run in the next heat.

Race scheduling method - Some race scheduling methods are better than others at keeping a faster pace. Perfect-N type is the best overall, IMO. However, smaller race groups increase the chances of cars running in back to back heats, as mentioned above, slowing the pace.

Kids doing car handling - This can be as much as only the racers are allowed to handle their own cars to only the race crew handles the cars. The more kid participation, the slower the pace will be. Some compromise to keep a faster pace by having the kids only load the cars to the track. The race crew pulls the cars for the next heat and places them in a tray or designated on deck area for the kids to grab them from. The race crew retrieves the cars and puts them back in the staging area. I have also seen some that will just have the kids retrieve the cars from the finish line and return them to the staging area. Though, having the kids return the cars to the staging area can result in a car being modified illegally, like some dad just wanting to tweak a wheel or add some more lube.

Number of rounds of racing - Keeping this to a minimum will help reduce the event length. With your number of racers, doing the two round format as you indicated should be fine. Though, to save a bit of time, you could limit the pack finals down to just one run per lane.


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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: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by korey99 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:11 pm

Unfortunately, I've got one den with only 2 kids (Webelos 2), but the Webelos 1 den has 9. I initially thought I might combine them for racing using subgroups in GPRM, but I've decided on using points for standings, and i've learned that won't work in the software.

In a perfect-n chart, everyone would race everyone the same number of times, so it'd be fair to combine groups, right? For PPN, some would race older kids more often than others, so I can see where that wouldn't be fair.



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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by korey99 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:14 pm

Darin- thanks for the idea of making sure each scout races each other. That seems like a good rule of thumb.



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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by gpraceman » Wed Nov 26, 2014 3:23 pm

korey99 wrote:Unfortunately, I've got one den with only 2 kids (Webelos 2), but the Webelos 1 den has 9. I initially thought I might combine them for racing using subgroups in GPRM, but I've decided on using points for standings, and i've learned that won't work in the software.
Some packs just run all of the Webelos in one group and have just one set of awards.
korey99 wrote:In a perfect-n chart, everyone would race everyone the same number of times, so it'd be fair to combine groups, right? For PPN, some would race older kids more often than others, so I can see where that wouldn't be fair.
Well, when scoring by points, who a racer goes head to head against does matter. Not so when times scoring.

Personally, with only two Webelos II, I'd combine the two and just have the one set of awards. That's what our pack did.


Randy Lisano
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Stan Pope
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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by Stan Pope » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:46 am

korey99 wrote:Unfortunately, I've got one den with only 2 kids (Webelos 2), but the Webelos 1 den has 9. I initially thought I might combine them for racing using subgroups in GPRM, but I've decided on using points for standings, and i've learned that won't work in the software.

In a perfect-n chart, everyone would race everyone the same number of times, so it'd be fair to combine groups, right? For PPN, some would race older kids more often than others, so I can see where that wouldn't be fair.
If that is because some of this year's Web II "graduated" already this fall, be aware your district races are open to them if they qualify in your pack races. This is not true of every district, but it is true of yours.

(At least, that has been the tradition for many years ... I have heard nothing regarding changing that practice. I've been gently "niggling" the chairman and professional, but I have not seen rules published for this year. Only changes I suspect are procedural, easing some rules when the violation does not get advantage. A proposed inspection change was regarding length when slot locations were used. Since elongated wheel bases are allowed, not trimming the 7.05" kit block down to 7.00 inches (after painting) while using the original block axle locations does not gain a meaningful advantage. And the recommended rule change avoids rasping the paint job on the front of the car. Don't know if that will be implemented or not, but that is the kind of action discussed.)


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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by Speedster » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:49 am

Our Pack gives an award for the 1st and 2nd place winners for speed in each group. Our District invites the 1st and 2nd place Pack winners in each group. If we ran all Webelos together only 2 boys would get a trophy and only 2 boys would go to District. We experienced only 2 boys in Webelos 2 last year and ran them off as one group to determine 1st and 2nd place. They both went to the District races. What am I not understanding running 2 groups together and having one set of awards?



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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by gpraceman » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:20 am

Speedster wrote:What am I not understanding running 2 groups together and having one set of awards?
Well, not all districts have a separate Webelos II race, as many of them have already crossed over by the time of the district race.

If there is a district race for Webelos II, they can have their own separate awards. Though, I would still consider running them with the Webelos I since there is only 2 of them. Have a Webelos group with a Webelos I and Webelos II subgroups. Even when scoring by points, with GPRM you can look at subgroup standings to base the awards on.


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: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by korey99 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:24 am

gpraceman wrote:Though, I would still consider running them with the Webelos I since there is only 2 of them. Have a Webelos group with a Webelos I and Webelos II subgroups. Even when scoring by points, with GPRM you can look at subgroup standings to base the awards on.
But with GPRM, it doesn't let you use subgroups when scoring by points, right?



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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by gpraceman » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:56 am

korey99 wrote:But with GPRM, it doesn't let you use subgroups when scoring by points, right?
Sorry, you are correct. :oops: Though, you can always pick out your two Webelos II from the group standings report, if you still want to provide Webelos II awards and/or for district qualifying.


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: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by korey99 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:28 am

And I'd contend that to mix ranks in a points scoring schedule, you need to be careful that the opponent mix is very fair. If, to take an extreme example, you mixed tigers and Webelos, if one tiger had to race more (even one more) heats against Webelos, he'd be at a disadvantage.



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Re: Seeking advice for derby length

Post by gpraceman » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:37 am

korey99 wrote:And I'd contend that to mix ranks in a points scoring schedule, you need to be careful that the opponent mix is very fair. If, to take an extreme example, you mixed tigers and Webelos, if one tiger had to race more (even one more) heats against Webelos, he'd be at a disadvantage.
Before I posted that, I did do a test with 11 racers, 3 lane track and 2 runs per lane. Every racer went against every other racer at least once, some twice. So, I don't think that would really put the Webelos II at a disadvantage, but Stan is more the authority on that.


Randy Lisano
Romans 5:8

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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