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Managing A Large Gathering

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  • Managing A Large Gathering

    My small race group has grown to where we may get 12 or more guys to show up on a race day. Since we race in the winter, everybody needs to stay inside and this puts a strain on the room available to race as well as any room put aside to work on your car. It can also result in a lot of time waiting for your turn to rotate onto one of the lanes.

    We were discussing the ideas the other day on ways to avoid guys getting discouraged because the room is tight or most of your day is spent either marshaling or waiting your turn. Especially if the day stretches beyond 6 hours. We tossed around some ideas but nothing that stood out.

    How do other large gatherings handle their race day?

    Thanks...Joe
    Last edited by Grandcheapskate; 03-20-2019, 07:23 PM.

  • #2
    Add more lanes? It can be a group effort.

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    • #3
      Over the years we have held slot car parties with as few as 7 and as many as 24 drivers. (These are always 60 second heats as our track is only about 35 feet per lane.) I'd figure on about an hour per race with 12 drivers, longer if your heats are longer, of course. The night we had 24 people we only had two races, but at least half the people were there mostly for the party. When people start taking too long to warm up, we will pull out a timer and put a 30 second limit on warm-ups. This should be done with a smile of course. ;-)

      We've also used a points system, often called Season Points, so that we can have different formats like "fastest lap" and "total laps and sections." Race Coordinator can be set to discard the lowest score, so that if Bob has to leave after race 3 in a 4 race event, Bob still gets his three scores, which is about as equitable as can be managed. This could be done on a white board if needed.

      A disadvantage is the more likely result of ties, as opposed to just adding up total laps and sections. But we have only done one tiebreaker ever, and I lost to my wife, so now we don't do tiebreakers. ;-) jk

      As for crowd control, we lure people into the house from the garage with televised sports, food and drink. Not sure of the OP's layout, but perhaps the pit area could be in a different room than the track? Race Coordinator supports wireless devices, but I usually just run a 25 foot monitor cable to a second monitor where people can easily check who is on deck. Yelling works okay, if you don't mind loud people. Good luck and have tons of fun!

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      • #4
        Biggest race I ever hosted had 32 people. I had them pitting all over the house. We have a family floor, so the tracks are on the second floor of the house. I used an intercom system to keep people that were pitting on the first floor up to date on the heats and who was next in. Overall, average race dates now range from about 8 to 14 people. Very manageable. Snacks and beverage and a relaxed atmosphere for bench racing make for a great race day. Having fun tracks that people want to race on is a big plus.

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        • #5
          If you have a large gathering it is nice if you have enough space for two tracks, that way you can run two races at the same time. At one time my 1/32nd club had two members with tracks and they were next door neighbors. We did a big event with races on both tracks at the same time. Another time we were doing a proxy race on one of the tracks when the computer died, so we moved the race next door.
          I was reminded of the first time that I hosted a race at my place. There was a chance of getting 15-20 people, but my basement is only about 500 square feet with the furnace, hot water heater, oil tank, work benches and washer taking up a lot of the space. I did not have tables and chairs at that time, so I had to rent those. I put a few tables and some chairs in the basement and put the rest out in my garage, which is 24X24 feet. The garage looked like the local church bingo hall, but everyone crowded into the basement during the event.

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          • #6
            Not sure how you fit a second track in if you're already running out of space...

            Both clubs I'm involved with typically draw between 15 and 20 drivers per race with some races drawing as many as 25 people. Most of the places we race can handle those numbers although some are tighter than others. The waiting around and marshaling isn't a problem for most guys. When waiting around you get to chat and catch up with the other racers and tinker with the cars. We make sure there are plenty of drinks, snacks, and lunch for those that attend (both clubs provide money to host to help defray the cost). One group that is focused on magnet cars typically has a longer day, but that is by choice. The other group typically has a shorter day. Having the same schedule for every event helps I think. Below are the race day schedules for both clubs"

            MARC (www.marcne.com) magnet cars:
            8:00 doors open and track is on for Sportsman (we classify drivers as Sportsman or Pro)
            8:30 track is open for practice for first race (if there are multiple tracks, both are on)
            10:00 First practice concludes
            10:30 Driver's meeting (a good way to let people know what's coming up and a chance for people to raise questions and concerns) completed and tech completed. First race begins
            1 PM or so. First race completes (we do 5 min heats)
            2 hours of practice for second race
            Sportsman race and then Pros race (if there are multiple tracks and then the groups are on different tracks, they can be run at the same time if there are enough marshals)
            5 - 7 PM race day concludes with Ribbons, etc.

            East Coast Outaws (www.ecoslotcars.com) Pancake cars (T-Jets, etc.)
            8:00 AM doors open and practice begins
            9:30 - 10:00 AM practice completes.
            10:30 Drivers meeting completed, tech completed first race begins
            Noon or there about first race completes (3 min heats)
            Lunch 30 mins - hour depending on the number of people
            Second race (3 min heats)
            Third race (3 mins heats) for half of race dates, this is an IROC race which goes a little quicker
            4 PM - 6PM race day concludes with plaques, etc.

            In both cases it's a pretty full day so people come with the expectation of being there for the day.

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            • #7
              You can always take the plunge and look for a venue with more room. As a racer, I would not balk at paying an extra $10 to help offset any venue costs for a day of racing. Local churches are a good place to start, they usually have larger rooms, plenty of tables and chairs, and are generally not too greedy. Their main issue is that you are engaging in a wholesome activity, and are respectful of the where you are. Who knows? You may even attract a few more people who are interested in racing once they see what it is all about.

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              • #8
                All responses are great! I enjoyed reading (learning) from each one of them - except none of you say how many lanes the tracks are that you race on... 20 guys on a 2-lane track or 12 guys on a 4-lane are diff'rent strokes!

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                • #9
                  For MARC most tracks are 4 lane with a couple of 6 lane tracks. It is assumed that the tracks will be at least 4 lanes.

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                  • #10
                    Another point about waiting around is that during practice you marshal for the lane you want. Practice is set up as a long round robin of 3 to 5 minute heats with a short (20 to 30 second) break between heats. The tracks all have marshalling positions for each of the lanes. Check out the MARC rules in the link above for classes and procedures.

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                    • #11
                      Because of my schedule, I am only able to attend the races at one of the club's tracks. The track is great and the host makes every day there a special occasion.

                      To give you an idea of the space we have, the track has four lanes and located in a garage inaccessible to the house. The track is about 16-18 feet long and I would guess the garage is 22-24 feet deep. The track is flush against the back wall and there is a small table next to the door at the front of the garage, leaving about 3 feet between the track and table. With a chair in front of the table this reduces the track-to-table space even further (and add in a marshal). Along one of the long sides of the track are the racing stations. There is enough room to stand but your back is almost against the wall. If someone needs to get to the racing station at the back of the garage, everyone has to suck in their guts.

                      On the other side a counter top runs along the wall where you can work on your cars. However, when the marshals stand along that side of the track, there is really no room to sit. The space between the track and counter top is maybe 3 feet.

                      So you can see when there is a large gathering, there is no good place to stand or work on the cars. If the weather is warm and the garage door can stay open, all the problems vanish as tables can be set up in the driveway.

                      I thought one possible solution on days with a lot of attendees was to divide the day into two groups - one for the morning and one for the afternoon. In this way the first group could run all their races with the second group arriving toward the end of their races. Everyone then shares pizza, the first group departs and the afternoon group runs the same type races. Of course this approach has flaws but as I said, the last thing you want to have happen is guys get frustrated and not show up because there are too many racers.
                      Last edited by Grandcheapskate; 03-21-2019, 08:59 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Grandcheapskate - is the track just a super long rectangle? there's no infield? this is a case of "a picture is worth a thousand words!"
                        It sounds like the track layout should change to be shorter and more technical, perhaps even double back on itself to gain more space.
                        ...just thinking out loud here...

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                        • #13
                          The hardest part is to keep the day moving along at a brisk pace. The best examples of these are when there was a dedicated person who ran the PC and the event. That individual did not have a car in the race. Their job was to run the event. A good PA system doesn't hurt either.

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                          • #14
                            Grandcheapskate, that does sound very tight. If the weather is not too bad, maybe someone or two someones have those pop-up awnings people use for tailgating and camping, and those could be put over the pit tables outside? Wind and or cold, would, of course, make this less desirable. Also, yes I forgot to state we have a four lane track. I don't do a schedule, but it's easy enough to calculate how much time the heats themselves will take, factor in shuffling about/tinkering, and some time for beaks between races and any official lunch or dinner time.

                            Maddman @13 I like the way you think. Running an event and competing in it can be draining. People always give me the business about having "home track advantage," which is kind of true, but the home track "disadvantage" is how tired I am after cleaning the entire house and garage, setting up, shopping and cooking. ;-) But that only happens once a year for the big party, the lesser events are take and bake pizza and cleaning the downstairs.



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                            • #15
                              I agree with Maddman that keeping the pace and energy high is important with a bigger crowd - so people don't get bored and everyone gets a real buzz out of the event. Having a routine (and a rule) where racers marshal the heats after they race keeps things flowing - especially if the pit area is away from the track. But with energy from the race controller(s), you might find racers gravitate to the track and happily marshal / watch the racing / do anything else that is needed. A big crowd does need managing, but there can be the benefits of having plenty of people available to delegate tasks to.

                              My hunch is never to have alternative entertainment (a second track, TVs, video games etc) - it slows things down. Making a show of the trophy presentation rounds of the event nicely. Maybe small gifts for all participants - eg stickers/decals - is a nice touch. Having a well-stocked refreshment area and a separate designated smoking/vaping area works well.

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