Chapter 6. Getting Ready for Race Day
This chapter deals with the variety of details that must be addressed before the derby can take place. These ideas should make the actual race day go very smoothly.
Distribution of Car Kits
The best bet is to assign each judge a particular area of responsibility. One judge will be in charge of physical dimension checking; another weigh in. Bring in some cars, and have each judge practice the assessment of the car based on the rules assigned to them. Cover an overview of all the rules, the spirit you want for the event, error handling and complaint handling techniques. Of special interest is the two areas of judging which are “subjective.”
Determining the best paint job and best use of patriotic theme is sometimes very difficult. Judges should be given the entire list of categories and criteria so that the try and fill all the categories at the same time. I have found that several judges, using a consensus method, will yield the best results. When faced with two perfectly painted cars, the judging panel can negotiate each car into a winning category. Judging should be done in plain sight of all the scouts and families and should not begin until the races are over. This allows the scouts to observe (from a distance) the effort spent is selecting the winners in the design categories and makes the award all the more valuable. Discuss this with your judges and be sure that they understand the goals of your derby.
The second area of “subjective” judging is which car came over the finish line first. While in my experience there aren't very many close heats, there is always some races that are contentious. The finish line judge should be in charge of the race and the finish line judge should be the same person for the entire race. All the other judges should understand that. The finish line judge will enforce the rules about car failures, track failures, and the like. The key areas to cover in the training of the finish line judge are how to report the results, how to rerun a race, how to address concerns about the lane assignments, track conditions, cross winds, and claims that Tommy’s dad hid a jet engine in his car!
Track Building and Testing
The physical structure for the snack bar is also very important to pre plan. If you have a kitchen with a counter, check the kitchen for supplies before the race. If you are using a “soda wagon” from a local beverage distributor, ask to see one or ask what's inside. If you are set up in the corner of the building, be sure you have tables, chairs, and a way to keep small hands from hot surfaces and a good first aid kit for when all else fails!