2018 Solo program enhancements

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2018 Solo program enhancements

Post by flogger » Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:21 am

There's a bunch of cool, new stuff coming to our autocross program this year.Here's a quick rundown of some of it:

Expanded the season from 8 regular season and 1 post-season event to 11 regular and 1 post season. More autocross for everyone! Part of that is that we're now counting the MiDiv weekend as 2 events (just like how MiDiv counts it), but we're adding 2 extra days. Also, we're considering making our post-season event a different format, to mix things up.

Continued use of our very successful new wifi based live timing system. See if we can mount one of the routers in a different way to get better signal strength at the very edges of the venue (weather permitting).

Looking into adding online prepayment capability. The problem is, as a non-profit, our gross margins are so tiny (even negative for smaller events) that the club can't absorb the fees involved in doing this, so if we can do it, it's going to have to include a convenience fee. Looking around the web, though, I still can't find another SCCA region in the country that charges as little for autocross entry as we do.

Adding an OMR Taxi program. Designated members known to be skilled drivers and approved by Solo Director/Eventmaster will have their cars labeled for easy identification and will offer rides to those who want to. Passenger priority is to be given to new drivers, but non-minor spectators will be allowed, too. Care must be taken to avoid causing delays in the flow of grid, but we're making our regular ambassadors more easily identified. No rides are to be given after the 3rd run of a heat, for competitive reasons for our volunteers. We'll waive the "no rides before your first timed run" for new drivers only. This doesn't apply to the MiDiv.

Course preview for new competitors. We'll go a little quicker through the novice course walk and try to reduce the time of the driver's meeting so that we'll have time to have some designated regulars safely drive novices around the course at ~75% to 80% effort before the timed runs begin. This should show novices where the course goes a little more in case there's confusion, and give them some insight into where to apex and so forth. 75%-80% effort is equivalent to getting off course following a red flag and should not be heating tires appreciably. It's all in the interest of fun, and fewer novices DNFing makes for a better event for everyone. The no course preview rule is waived for our regional events for this express purpose only.

We're getting some SCCA memento stickers for newbies.

We've replaced the amp (the old one would die and require rebooting periodically). The new amp is similar, but also has bluetooth and some other additional inputs, so we're looking at streaming some car related music at appropriate times. I suppose sound effects would be a possibility, too. :-)

We've replaced a broken speaker and are working on getting better stands/mounts made for the speakers. We're also working on getting some of the speakers located much closer to grid, rather than right by the trailer. This should help a lot.

We're working on figuring out how to track results to include an additional novice class for people who have self reported as having done 3 or fewer previous autocrosses. If we can figure this out (not apparently native to the software, so we're working on how best to go about it), then they'd be included in PAX and Class results, but also in a separate novice results list (based on PAX). This might give some rookies some bragging rights and increase their enjoyment as they start to work their way up the learning curve.

While the members of this region are a very friendly, inviting bunch, as far as I know we've never had a work assignment of going out and chatting up new people and spectators before. Starting this year, if we have enough people at an event and can afford a worker, we'll have somebody serve as liaison to go out and actively do this, rather than take the more passive approach we've done in the past. We want to make sure new people get their questions answered and know what to do, and get a better sense of what a great group this is.

This ought to be a great season!
Scott Woosley

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Re: 2018 Solo program enhancements

Post by JimR » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:45 pm

This sounds like a good year. I'm ready for winter to be done.

A humble suggestion on the pre-runs: let those on the novice sign-up list take the guided practice run behind the wheel of their own cars. An uneasy first-timer would be more comfortable on a reconnaissance run in their own equipment, a lap at their own concept of "brisk" before being thrown in the deep end. The reason we all started was to have a new experience in our own car. Getting a practice shot is reassuring. As organizers, the subtext is that a venue full of observers, course workers, and skilled passengers would be specifically watching out for misses on these first runs and providing helpful feedback.

Novices start out at different skill levels. Some will get the navigation piece down quickly, but may have other low-hanging fruit to improve (braking with the steering wheel, on/off-switch inputs, underdriving, overdriving, etc.). If we're committing the extra time for novice pre-runs, we can let the new autocrossers reveal what engagement is most valuable. It becomes a more personalized experience, positively reinforcing what worked and helping with what didn't. The few who are genuinely lost can be cycled through several times in an "OMR taxi" during competition before being sent back on course. Avoiding the frustration of repeated DNFs overrides just about any delay we can imagine.

We might even hesitate to call it the "novice" signup. It could be the "OMR Experience" or something along those lines. The ultimate goal as much extending a welcome to our group of friends as a skills-building exercise. Make it a package deal: try autocross with us, and we'll give you a guided course walk and practice lap (make it easy), OMR memento (fun), and friendly access to interesting cars and drivers (no strangers). People who feel included and engaged will have fun and come back, and skill and speed will inherently follow.

Granted, having novices first ride with experienced autocrossers at a touring pace is a sure thing from the correct navigation/technique standpoint. However, I know a couple of things to be true from experience. Not everyone new at autocross necessarily wants to handled as a "newbie," especially when cars and pride (leaning heavily young men) are involved. Also, non-novices/non-instructors may be turned off by watching seasoned competitors taking layup laps - more the principle of exclusion than any tire temperature advantage.
Jim Rowland - Your friendly OMR volunteer at large
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Re: 2018 Solo program enhancements

Post by stanbell » Sun May 20, 2018 6:29 pm

hey, re that novice class thing in the software: axtime does support designating the "pax class" of an entry/registrant. we can use that "N", as many regions do, to designate novice class, and have axtime score it appropriately. we might want narrower definition than our neighbors do for their "N" pax class, like that proposed <3 ax's. still, sw can do it.
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