That said I will be coordinating and running my first derby later this year for our local Girl Scouts service unit, it's hard to estimate the turnout post Covid with membership numbers slashed, but I'm expecting anywhere from 100-150 participants off the top of my head.
So my question is for those that have run several derbies. Assuming a moderate to leisurely pace (we will all be new at this so, I expect some hiccups) can anyone give me an estimate of how long I'm looking at for the day? I will be using a 4 lane track with DerbyNet software, each car will run 4 times (once in each lane) and the cars will be broken down into 4 age groups. I'm mostly trying to estimate a time schedule for the heats of the 4 age levels as I expect many will not be sticking around the entire day but just showing up for their heat. I expect to take breaks between the heats to adjust to whatever time schedule I create, but I don't want to find myself with 1 hour long breaks between heats if possible because I grossly overestimated how long it would take to run those 30 cars in that heat, if that makes sense.
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Here's some tips and tricks for speeding up a race. Keep in mind that this is partially geared towards GrandPrix Race Manager software, so some tips may not apply to other software.
What takes you far longer than you expect is checking in all of those cars. If you can, check them in prior to race day. We would do check-in the night before the race. This included test running the cars down the track (individually and not timed) to identify the cars that needed more work in order to cross the finish line. Race day was easier to manage without dealing with check-in.
You still have to factor in time for your check-in, opening ceremony and the awards ceremony. No one will complain if the race finishes up ahead of schedule. But there will be a lot of grumbling if the race drags on long.
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.
- Darin McGrew
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With the registration and inspection done a day or three before race day, you can also have the design judges do their job in a more leisurely manner. When we used to do the registration and inspection on race day, we would often have a potluck between checking in the cars and racing, but that meant the design judges were doing their job during the potluck. Since we like to recruit independent judges who aren't related to any of the kids, that meant our guest judges missed the potluck, which wasn't very hospitable.
The registration and inspection will take longer than you expect. The last 5 minutes of the registration and inspection will take an hour or more.
With 100-150 cars and each car racing once in each lane, you have 100-150 minutes of racing, plus time for intro, awards, etc. That's a long time for most people to watch the races, so I'd recommend dividing up by age group.
Our crew got down to around 30 seconds per race, as long as there were no cars scheduled for consecutive races. That isn't always possible with small groups of cars though. You can combine two or more small groups into one, or if you don't want them to compete against each other, you can alternate between groups (race 1 of group A, race 1 of group B, race 2 of group A, and so on). That way, the groups race against other members of the same group, but the small groups don't force cars to be scheduled for consecutive races.
But we always planned for a minute per race, because Murphy was an optimist. And make sure your MC has material to keep everyone entertained for occasional unscheduled breaks. Maybe the MC will just use it between the main heats and any runoffs, or while the crew is tabulating the results. But maybe something will go wrong and cause a delay while you're fixing it.
Unlike a typical BSA Pack race most won't be staying the entire day as this is at the Girl Scouts service unit level, and unlike Cub Scouts girl scout packs are generally a single level so likely they will show up for their heat and leave, heats will be by Girl Scouts rank and will be scheduled ahead of time, thus the need for time estimates as to when people should show up for their heat as I expect people to leave after their heat unless they have a sibling in a later race.. Mostly trying to eliminate long breaks between heats due to over scheduling the time slot, I would rather be running late vs having a half hour break after each heat... I also plan to do a mock setup of the track and cameras before race day to make sure everything is working together... I can't do anything small and have to go all out even though it's the first event I'll be running, so full-blown cameras, building a start tree and so on I'll probably have at least 4 cameras (overall track, start, finish and racers on deck) these will be composited into a single video feed using Open Broadcaster Software that is hooked into DerbyNets replay software as well a live projection on the wall... I already have done a dry run with the cameras, using multiple phones/laptops all hooked into an Open Broadcaster Software video server to composite them into a single virtual webcam that I can hook into DerbyNet relay feature... I understand the replay might add a bit of time, but I can't see my crew getting the next race staged and ready within the 10 seconds or so it will take for the replay to fire and play...
Awards will either be passed out after each level's heat, or delivered at a later date depending on time, no overall awards planned just the age level ones after each heat...
So much to get in order