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The ideal club meeting - What does it look like?

3481 Views 44 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Michael363672
What does the ultimate race meeting look like.

Ground rules

• This is a digital discussion, analogue racers contributions are welcomed but must be constructive and "analogue is better" is not constructive.
• The race meeting has at least 6 folk , one of which is a rookie adult - Children can come in only as honerary adults.
• The doors open at 18:30 hrs for play/chat/ad hoc testing. Official festivities finish at 22:30 and kick out is 23:00
• The track is up for the duration and packing away bits is not a time limiter.

My Straw man of the ideal race requirements-

1. Drivers should spend most of the time driving not marshalling.
2. Some time should be allowed for Chat, vital repairs, Confort breaks and tea (very English me).
3. More than one class to be raced in an evening , if your car class A breaks you have only lost half of the evening at most because you can race in class B.

This leads to some basic requirements/organisation

• Auto yellow flag is a requirement towards meeting (1) and is set at Race stop in current positions. All drivers may re-slot/check and re-align car (but not move) prior to the re-start.
• No marshals are available as none are required under yellow flag.
• The obligatary cards for re-slotting are as follows:-
• Utter rookies 1 card, They should be lapping well inside their abilities in formal racing and just getting into the scheme of things. They need to satisfy the marshals they are sufficiently capable of meeting reasonable standards before given Mid standard i.e with 3 cards they can reasonably expect to make the end of the race. 3 de slots in a lap is definitely back to Rookie without a VERY GOOD EXCUSE.
• Mid level, 3 cards but are not eligible for the elite championship.
• Top level 1 card (they should not be making mistakes). I have seen analogue racers come close to this anyway. Any mid level driver is welcome to upgrade to Elite, but can only count results toward the standard they are driving at the time. This will encourage mids to become elite. The one slot looks (to me) possible if the cars are of high quality (i.e.on my track with magnets are not prone to de slotting for no good reason). With less able cars this may have to be increased.

The meeting
• Class qualification periods 10 mins for each class. 5 min between periods. Two periods each (Class A Class B, ClassA, Class B,Time now 20:30.
• Racing proper Heats 3 (Class A, ClassB, ClassA) 10 min duration (or equivalent laps) 5 min between heats.
• Race interval 30 min.
• Racing proper Heats 3 (ClassB, ClassA, ClassB) 10 min duration (or equivalent laps) 5 min between heats.
• As its all computer regardless of whose system results for evening will be avialble in last 30 min of evening.

Result with two cars you get 40 min driving in qualify mode. 1 hr in racing mode. That is just under 2 hrs. This is a bit on the low side but probably acceptable. Should qualification be dropped 1 1 15 min session a bit longer for each and extend racing? Is ½ hour break too long for chatting/tweaking? More shorter heats?
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The Digital Racing Alliance of Western Washington is a fairly young club. We really only started in early 2011 and have only raced one series so far, just about to begin our next, along with "fun" race meets and IROC racing. As such, our "rules" are still very fluid as we try different things to see what works best for us. One of the most fluid rules is how we deal with de-slots. Because each track in the group is different in its own way, each one has slightly different rules. The rules can also change depending on how many people are there.

At my track, as long as we have one extra person, that person can stand in the crook of my L-shaped table, which happens to be within easy reach of most de-slot points. That one person can easily manage the majority of offs. When we have that marshal, we usually run with "crash and pit" rules. If you come off, the marshal puts you back on as quickly as possible without pausing or slowing down the race. The drivers that came off, no matter the cause, then have to stop in the pit lane for a penalty. In most cases, that's a two second penalty. Without software to control that, we require the drivers to stop, say "One Mississippi Two Mississippi" before they can leave the pit lane. The race is then "back on" for those drivers.

If we don't have an extra, or if we are at another track where active marshaling is not possible due to crashes that require long grabber tools to reach, we use the Auto Track Call feature in SSDC to trigger a track call after two seconds. That delay is the penalty for the crashers, and is usually quite enough, especially if the driver doesn't remember to release his trigger right when they crash.
The race is paused with a complete stop, and all crashers are put back on, and then the track call is canceled.

Between the two types, I much prefer active marshaling with a stop and go penalty for the crashers. This method doesn't stop the race nearly as much, making race nights much more fun for all, and much more efficiently run. Track calling every lap (or more!) because of offs really slows things down. If there were a good way to re-slot a car on a difficult to reach track without getting in the way of other drivers, I'd like to hear it.

Speaking of crashers, we treat anyone out of the slot the same way, whether it was a one car crash, or a 6 car pile up. If you're out of the slot, you take the penalty along with anyone else. This may seem heavy handed, but without an objective party watching every car/corner/crash to be able to say who caused it, it's too hard to be sure. Many will take responsibility for a crash, but sometimes even the drivers can't tell if they nerfed a guy on their outside, or if that guy just took the corner too fast, and these are the most common types of crashes, the second being lane changes. So, any car out of the slot, for any reason, is a crasher and takes whatever penalty is appropriate for the night. Sometimes that's the track call delay, sometimes that's a stop and go.
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I'll note again that this is just how we run things. As I said, our group is new, and so we've taken ideas from other places, and are still experimenting with ideas. Some things are likely to change, and some will likely stay the same. I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone (or anyone) should also do it this way.

QUOTE (UshCha @ 3 Oct 2011, 11:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>This is interesting as we keep track calls to 0.5 sec delay. This is because on a 6 car 4 second lap a crashed car will obstruct an innocent driver almost as much as the guilty party. It may be your track is bigger and so 2 sec is acceptable. Your rational would be very interesting.

No, the laps are usually between 6 and 10 seconds, depending on the track and the cars. The 2 seconds is so that people try to avoid crashing. Crash and burn is too much of a penalty, we feel, but we also want there to be sufficient deterrent so that drivers try to be more careful. In fact, sometimes we'll do a 2 second delay AND a stop and go penalty. The problem we've had with a short delay like .5s is that cars that coast well and on certain tracks, a driver could actually release the trigger for longer than that in the normal course of driving. Sometimes we use manual track call via the brake buttons, because none of us use the brake button to actually brake. Those cases are rare, though, and usually only when we don't have SSDC running for some reason.

QUOTE (UshCha @ 3 Oct 2011, 11:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>More recently the issue is that of "non catastrophic spin offs". With our card it is possible to slew very heavily ,near 90 deg, stop but not de-slot. It takes 1 to 2 sec of pawer to get the car back. Should this be treated as a de-slot if it obstructs another driver or as a drive through?

Any car that cannot proceed on its own is considered "off". If it can get back to racing with a couple seconds of power, or a helpful nudge from a passing (or following) car, then so be it. If it's still in the slot and rolling, then it's still racing. With auto-track-call, it's really up to the driver to give up on the car and release the trigger so that track call is activated. If he's trying to keep the car going, or even simply forgets to let go, then track call will not happen until he does (or someone else comes off and does ;-). It's not uncommon for all of these things to happen, and so we just "roll with it".

QUOTE (UshCha @ 3 Oct 2011, 11:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>This leads to another related question. If your 2 sec rule works for you Mr F. How many seconds appart (typical speeds) would a useable LC be. On my tracks their are currently only 1 XLC and 3 CLC's so a de-slot can be un-avoidable to other drivers as their may not be an LC available in time for a clear follower to avoid 2 sec away.

Most of the tracks have multiple XLC and a couple CLC, easily one lane changer every 10 feet or less. Usually, though, it's about where a lane change is useful for racing purposes, not for getting around a crash purposes. If someone gets stuck behind a crashed car, well... sucks to be them. Most of us drive through a crashed car. Rubbin' is Racin' and all that. We don't try to barrel through a car at full speed, but we also don't wait when we think we can push it out of the way. Races are won or lost by decisions like that.

QUOTE (UshCha @ 3 Oct 2011, 11:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>While not initially being the target of this discussion does the ideal race meeting place some requirements on the track to allow the ideal race.

I think that's a good point. In my dream world, the clubhouse would have many amenities in addition to the track. The track being the focus, would have good lane length, good visibility, and easy marshal access at all the major crashing points so that, given enough people, all races could be crash and pit with no track calling. Ideally, software would control a car with a penalty when it enters the pit, and not allow it to leave until it serves its penalty.

QUOTE (UshCha @ 3 Oct 2011, 11:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The interesting issue is that nobody has said races longer than 10 min would be better. Real races are 20 min or more and in a very old hobby, model powerboats , heats of 15 min was not unreasonable, why do you think that is (it being digital so getting everybody on every track is not an issue controlling race length).

I have nothing against longer races, in fact I'm wanting to try a digital endurance race some time soon. I've taken part in analog endurance and digital endurance, and found them to be enjoyable, if not difficult to organize. The reason we run multiple short heats is because we follow the analog style of rotational racing. While position makes less difference in digital than it does in analog, being in front or back at race start does have an effect, if not only on the first turn. Also, different IDs are usually served by different positions around the track, which affect the driver by having a different view of the track, which is especially important on non-flat tracks that have obscured sight lines in some locations.

QUOTE (UshCha @ 3 Oct 2011, 11:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Nobody has really noted tea break length yet for digital where everybody is raceing all the time surely this is an issue? It is for us, however this may be geriatrics having to sit on the floor. Already its take your own Kneeling mat to survive the eveing ;-).

Oh, we don't have "tea" so much as snacks. Hosts provide beverages and chips or whatever, and we drink and nibble while we race.

QUOTE (ggonsalves @ 3 Oct 2011, 13:21) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Very interesting topic I have to say. We at FRC have massaged our racing rules to the point where things are reasonably well organised, however one area that still is a BIG problem is that of others driving through de-slotted cars which block the lane. Our drivers (myself included) are notorious for this. How can this be prevented or minimised?

Unless you set rules with penalties for doing that, and police those rules, I don't think it's possible. Just encourage and show by example how to carefully push those cars out of the way. Note to racers that excessive speed through a crashed car is likely to deslot itself.

QUOTE (ggonsalves @ 3 Oct 2011, 13:21) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Also, even though we have a stop and go penalty for people who drive into and de-slot the car ahead in the same lane (another thing I haven't seen mentioned yet here), drivers often times dispute this, arguing that the car ahead slowed unexpectedly or something similar. Perhaps Mr. Flppant's idea of penalising all de-slotters may be the way to go for this.

That's the problem. Even if all drivers agree to be honorable about crashes, sometimes you just can't tell. Even as the driver, you aren't always sure if you tail-whipped someone off in a corner, or if they just "cooked it" and came off on their own. Even lane changes can be debatable, since it's not uncommon for two people to change into each other, and sometimes one of the cars stays on while the other is knocked off.

I'm just as interested in how other people deal with such issues. Like I said, we're trying new things and might very well find that something else works better for us.

For example, one thing we haven't tried yet is a qualification run, followed by a longer race with fuel tracking and such. The question then is how do we decide who gets which driver station? Let each qualifier make his choice in turn? What if we have more than 6 racers? Split them up into classes? Then what? Since we usually run with 7 people, we have to do something to get everyone racing. So far, the answer has been to rotate through each grid place as if it were analog racing on lanes.
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We don't race with pace cars. There's enough rubbin' without cars that have no drivers in the mix.

We always start with power off so that the lead guys can punch it and wait for the power to kick in. It's up to those behind to time their starts to avoid causing a pile up at the first turn. I prefer being in back so that I can wait a nice long time and take it easy while getting into my groove for the race. In front is OK, as long as you can punch it and make it through turn 1. The middle is the worst. Car spacing depends on the track, though. Most of the time cars are about one full straight apart, and slightly staggered. Sometimes they're stepped so that the nose of a car in lane one is at the tail of the car in lane two, and so on. The closer the cars are at start, the more important it is for drivers to time their starts and not ram into the leading cars. We consider this aspect part of the experience. Again, it's important to remember that ramming another car doesn't always mean you'll get through. In some cases, it means you get deslotted and they stay on just fine (Pioneer Mustangs, for example ;-).
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Do you qualify more than one car/driver at a time? All 6? How many laps/minutes do they have to qualify? How does a driver/host decide what ID/station the driver(s) qualify at?

For analog racing, it's common for each driver to take a turn at the same lane and same car. That way lane and car set up do not effect qualifying time. This doesn't match up with digital racing, but the same car/station can be used to mimic this. But when people bring their own cars, it makes sense they should qualify with their own car, not someone else's.
Your special class is what we call IROC (International Race Of Champions). It's because the cars are provided by the host, just like the real IROC.

I like the idea of rolling a dice to determine station. That way it's fairly random, and people can't really complain about how their position around the track is "chosen".
Yes, Michael, please share how you guys deal with these issues.
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