Many things go into how long it will take you to run your race, including the number of racers entered, number of lanes on the track, which scheduling method is being used, and race crew organization. Since you have little control over the number of racers entered, we will cover the other issues that you do have control over.
- Each car should have its car number clearly displayed on top of the car, so it is easy for your crew to find it when needed. Using non-permanent adhesive labels is better than depending on racer applied markings.
- If you have different race groups, it can be helpful to assign each group a block of numbers (e.g. 100's for one group, 200's for the 2nd group, and so on). This can aid in staging cars for each heat, as well as with design judging.
- A key thing that check-in can accomplish is helping each car to at least cross the finish line. Racers can get quite discouraged if their car cannot even finish.
- Lubrication - Many times you can visually see signs of lubrication. If not, at least ask the racer (or their parent) if the car had been lubricated. If you only allow graphite lube, it should be pretty easy to see signs of lubrication on the wheels.
- Weight - If a car is well underweight, send the racer to your pit area to add some. The car should be at least within 1/2 an ounce of the weight limit.
- Test Run - Testing each car down the track (individually and not timed) should be part of the check-in process. Identify the cars that need some extra work in order to finish.
Race Crew Organization
How efficient your race crew is has a tremendous effect over how long it will take to run your race. Here are some things that we suggest:
- Each car should have its own assigned "parking spot", so it is easy for your crew to grab the cars for each heat.
- The staging table should be close to the track's start line to quickly get the next set of cars to the start line.
- Before creating your race schedules, do a count of cars. That count should exactly match what you have entered into the race software. Don't find out that you missed a car until you are running the race.
- Once you have your schedule(s) created, print out a copy and give it to your crew at the staging table (or use our DerbyWeb software). This will help them ensure that once one set of cars is racing down the track, then they have the next set of cars lined up and ready to load to the track. They may even be able to get multiple heats pre-staged.
- Note, it is faster for the crew to go by the printout than trying to depend on looking at GrandPrix Race Manager's racing screen via your projection system. The racing screen is not always showing the On Deck tab. Right after a heat finishes, it will show the Heat Winner tab.
- Assign at least two people to your staging table, to get cars pulled for each heat.
- Assign at least one person to retrieve cars from the finish line and take them back to the car staging table.
- Assign at least one person to put the cars back in their assigned "parking spot" after their heat is completed.
- Make sure that your MC is not slowing down the pace by inserting too much commentary.
- Practice with the software before the race, so you are comfortable with the steps needed to run the race in the fashion that you need. We have tutorial videos available, if you need a refresher.
Some scheduling methods are faster to run than others. Ideally, you do not want to wait for cars running in back-to-back heats, as this makes you wait for cars to return from the finish line before starting the next heat. That wastes a lot of time. Perfect-N Type, Phase Shifted Lane Rotation and Modified Lane Rotation schedules are better at reducing the back-to-back issue. Though, having a small number of cars in a race group and how many lanes your track has can also affect the back-to-back issue, regardless of the chosen scheduling method. For most cases, we recommend using Perfect-N Type scheduling.
GrandPrix Race Manager's Master Scheduling feature can further reduce the chance of having cars running in back-to-back heats. Master Scheduling takes the race schedules, from your different race groups, and collates them together into a single "master" schedule. Racing will alternate between the race groups. Racers still only race against others in their race group. It also has the benefit of keeping all racers more engaged in the event, instead of the waiting until it is their group's time to race and then being bored after their group has completed their races.
Number of Track Lanes
Many organizations when they go to build or buy a track feel that more lanes is better. Well, that isn't necessarily the case. It takes more time to run each heat as you add track lanes. There are more cars to load to the track, to retrieve from the finish line and to put back in their assigned "parking spots". If you have a track with more than 4 lanes, you may want to consider reducing the number of lanes that you will actually use for your race.