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Last Post 20 Sep 2013 06:51 PM by  MackBarker
Final Warning - Moving Cones/Changing the Course
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Catch-22
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16 Sep 2013 09:39 AM

    Yesterday, and for the 2nd time this season, someone moved cones around after the course was approved.  Unfortunately this time we did not catch it until after the heats had started, so it got left that way.

    This is completely unacceptable folks.  You simply can NOT do that.  Only the course designer, chief of course, or safety steward can change a course and if you aren't one of those people you absolutely positively can NOT move cones. 

    So given that we now have a trend, as Chief of Course for this region I am changing the guidelines for course setup and approval starting with the next event and until further notice.

    -The course designer will be designated at least one week before the event.

    -The chief of safety for that event will be designated no later than 24 hours before the scheduled start of the event and must be on site by 8:30am.

    -The course designer and chief of safety for that event will be the ONLY people with the authority to make any changes to the designers course setup.  And the two of them must work together and communicate all changes. 

    -Anyone that is not one of the two above mentioned people that is observed changing the course layout, adding pointer cones, or otherwise changing the setup will be disqualified on the spot and asked to leave.  This has been approved by the Solo Chairs and is in effect immediately.  No appeal, no 2nd chances, ignorance is not a valid excuse.

    -The course designer will take one last walk through the course, at every event, before we start the first heat.  Yes, this will likely cause yet another delay but after yesterday it is obviously a necessity.

    -If it is discovered that someone changed a course, we will halt the event on the spot while the safety chief and course designer recheck and verify the whole thing.  This obviously will cause yet another delay in playing with cars.

     

    In short, from this point forward there will be 2 people at each event that have the authority to move, remove, or add cones.  If you aren't one of those two people, you do it, and you get caught, you are gone.

    Please help spread the word, and please help keep an eye open and help us all make sure people stop doing this.  I made an announcement on the PA yesterday morning that changing the course is not allowed, and someone did it anyway.  Lots of people in this sport think they are a lot smarter and experienced than they really are, and that's how we end up with pointer cones pointing directly into a worker station (yes, this actually happened earlier this year).  If you have a legitimate safety concern you can bring it up to a safety steward and then he/she can work from there if he/she thinks it is legitimate.  If you just don't like the course you have 2 choices... 1) Deal with it.  2) Go home.

    Thanks,

    Scott

     

     

    porphyre
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    16 Sep 2013 11:50 AM
    Hey, I don't know you or your region, but I was wondering if you'd be willing to share some details about the course changing incidents.

    Thanks.
    ghostlyneon
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    16 Sep 2013 03:22 PM
    Scott,

    Yes I saw that happening yesterday and I did not agree with it either.

    BTW I did change two cones yesterday. I took two BLACK cones and swapped them with nice bright ORANGE ones.

    I did not change the location or content, just made the two apexes easier to spot.

    You all are doing a great job.

    Thanks,
    Dave
    mrazny
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    16 Sep 2013 04:11 PM
    My region has a similar systemic problem, except it seems to be quite a few older vets that feel they have the right to move stuff.
    Clark Marx
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    16 Sep 2013 04:18 PM
    Posted By mrazny on 16 Sep 2013 04:11 PM
    My region has a similar systemic problem, except it seems to be quite a few older vets that feel they have the right to move stuff.

    You spelled vettes wrong.


    mrazny
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    16 Sep 2013 04:40 PM
    surprisingly, none of the Corvette drivers are doing it.
    eaf363
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    16 Sep 2013 06:48 PM
    Thanks Scott. As the course designer, I was very disappointed to see that the course was changed for two reasons. One is that my favorite element, the box near the end which should have been a lane change, effectively was changed into a straight. The second, much more major complaint, is that a course that may have been relatively fair to a variety of cars became one that favored horsepower.

    I would very much appreciate if the person/people responsible for this would contact me via PM so that we can discuss why these changes were made. I am officially calling you out. I hope that if you are a Cincy region member you would grant me the respect of owning your actions. And if you visited from another region yesterday, I think it's only polite to explain why you felt you had the final decision over and above the host region.

    I get to most of our events by 6:30 AM, help with setup for the day (be it course, registration, etc.), do a work assignment, and am there helping until the trailer is packed. I have been setting courses for Formula SAE and SCCA for years. I am NOT a national level competitor. This was my first course at a big lot and it is really, really a shame that someone chose to take matters into their own hands. What's more, I may have even learned something if people had taken the time to consult and teach me. I think most would agree that I am very reasonable to deal with and am more than willing to listen to suggestions on changes to the course.

    End rant.

    I had a great time yesterday, thought the event was awesome.
    Catch-22
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    16 Sep 2013 08:20 PM
    Posted By porphyre on 16 Sep 2013 11:50 AM
    Hey, I don't know you or your region, but I was wondering if you'd be willing to share some details about the course changing incidents.

    Thanks.

    The first time it happened someone had added pointer cones in multiple places.  One of the spots, when viewed from an approaching driver's seat, pointed directly at a worker station.  I realize that this was not the intent of the person that did it, but that was the result.  Fortunately we caught this one before the runs started and picked them up.

    Yesterday the course was basically opened up to the point that one offset slalom and one box effectively became straights.  This wasn't noticed until the runs started because everyone was busy and just didn't see it until the runs had already started.  There may have been some other changes but only Evan would know what they were.

    Regardless, now that it has happened twice I'm going to get mean.  Hands off the course or out the door you go.  What Dave mentioned above (switching a scarred up cone for a more visible one) is fine.  That doesn't really change anything.


    lnfftw2
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    16 Sep 2013 10:28 PM
    What Scott stated is true. This was discussed at the beginning of the year and is announced at each event. If you have a concern, you can voice it to the safety steward or the course designer. Once the course has been approved by the safety steward no changes will be made. We do not want to have to disqualify people, we are all there to have fun. However, the course designers put in a lot of time, not only the day of the event but prior to the event to put together a course that will be fun and challenging for all competitors. If you do not like the courses that we are setting up as a region, do not take it upon yourself to change them. Contact Scott and volunteer to help do course design for upcoming events. We can always use the additional volunteers. Evan worked really hard on this course, and it is unfair to him that someone went and changed his vision when the course was deemed to be safe by our safety steward. If you have any questions about this policy please feel free to contact myself, Nathan or Scott.
    lycanthrope
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    16 Sep 2013 10:29 PM
    this. I'm also pretty sure it was brought up above that this can be a legitimate safety concern and can endanger others and run the risk of losing the site.
    Catch-22
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    17 Sep 2013 08:57 AM
    For clarity...

    We have a solid team of course designers, and the goal is to alternate who does the courses so that we have variety and creativity. That has been working extremely well, with variations and different ideas and some really solid courses that would qualify for national event use.
    In short, if you come to cincy region events and think the course designs are always bad, you are disagreeing with 4 or 5 people. So the "problem" might actually be you. I was told Sunday that someone was complaining that *I* have done bad courses at the Wilmington lot all year. Here is a news flash... The number of course *I* have designed at the Wilmington lot this year is ......ZERO. The number of people other than me that have designed courses at the Wilmington lot this year is... FOUR.
    So if you think all of the courses there suck and *I* am the problem, you are what we like to call "Wrong." Congratulations for sticking that landing!

    Further, we actually train the people we use for course design and setup to not only understand how features flow into each other but also how to safely navigate around things like bus sheds and light poles and how a course will look visually from the driver's seat. Remember that cones are three dimensional, and can be seen from both sides. Screw this up and you just might get yourself a head-on collision. Trust me, it is a lot harder than it looks. 

    So if it seems like some people are mad, you betcha we are. We have a great course team that works extremely hard to make sure we all get fun, safe courses at every event. If you want to be a part of that, you'll spend a season helping with setup (basically an internship) and then you get in the design rotation. And you have to be at the events you set up at 630am, always, because 100+ people are counting on YOU to get things started on time.
    You can contact me and let me know if you want to join our team, but fair warning that I'm already not very interested in someone that thinks they can just go changing courses around when nobody is watching. You've already showed your hand and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that collaboration, cooperation and teamwork aren't your strong points.
    marka
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    17 Sep 2013 09:53 AM
    Howdy,

    I'm a little surprised that random people are out on the course without the cones already being marked.

    Mark
    HotDoggin
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    17 Sep 2013 10:04 AM
    Posted By marka on 17 Sep 2013 09:53 AM
    Howdy,

    I'm a little surprised that random people are out on the course without the cones already being marked.

    Mark

    This is another issue we are having (not as major) -

    This past event in particular, I was assisting with course setup and was standing at the course start with our liner awaiting the "all clear"/"safe" from the safety steward/course designer before I went out to line the course.. I had told several people that approached the start line that it was not open for walking as they were still driving/setting up.  The response I got was almost comical -  "Oh I know, I'll just watch out for the car when they drive past"  -- WHAT?

     I briefly walked away from the crowd that was forming to take off my jacket, and returned to an empty start line with people out on course.  WTF people?!

    Between changing courses after they've been "OK'd", and walking out onto a live course (as far as I'm concerned).. These would all qualify as major safety issues above anything else.  From a safety viewpoint, I'd consider any of the aforementioned actions as bad as going out for a run without your seatbelt on, helmet not on (not buckled), driving off course intentionally... All idiotic and some even illegal..

     

     

    Posted By Bullitt on 16 Sep 2013 06:48 PM
    ...my favorite element, the box near the end which should have been a lane change, effectively was changed into a straight.....


     

    loosecannon
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    17 Sep 2013 03:03 PM
    I don't know if I'm the bad guy in the story I'm about to tell but here goes. Roger Johnson came to our region and taught a class on course design, which I took, and I had been designing courses for quite a while. We had an event where I was not the course designer, I was simply walking the course because I was competing. The person laying it out had a reputation for just tossing cones around without any concern for proper spacing and ignoring other suggestions in Rogers book. I brought along my measuring wheel and measured the cones in a slalom and noticed that they were completely random, ranging from 50' to 60'. I simply took the average and made them all equal because they hadn't been chalked yet.

    The whole first group, around 30 cars, went through the course without any trouble but one BMW owner in group 2 kept his foot in it when the tail started to wag and he lost control, sliding into a building (yes, the building was outside of the recommended range for a course) and wrote the car off. Of course the race director threw me under the bus claiming that I changed the cones after they had been carefully laid down and that I should be kicked out of the club. He argued that my changes made the slalom too fast. Know why I wasn't kicked out? Because after the crash, the course designer changed the slalom to "make it safer" and I happened to have data from a Solstice that ran the slalom before and after the changes, and the speed through the slalom INCREASED by 20 km/h after the changes. We had no further problems or even close calls the rest of the day and his argument about increased speed causing the crash held no water at all.
    mrazny
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    17 Sep 2013 03:22 PM
    Some of this might be a region by region thing. Our region does not hold course walks until it's chalked, instead we ask course walkers to chalk. Though typically an announcement or two might happen about the course not being done, we have no worker at the start holding people. That's an "us" thing (or an "us" problem). We also only have the pair of designers doing course as a work assignment. People might pitch in but it isn't an assignment, which leads to group chalking, and leads to kicking cones around.

    Random cone length is odd, but I personally wouldn't moves cones since sometimes this could be a design thought? Though random just seems evil if its intentional.
    HotDoggin
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    17 Sep 2013 03:30 PM
    Posted By loosecannon on 17 Sep 2013 03:03 PM
    I don't know if I'm the bad guy in the story I'm about to tell but here goes. Roger Johnson came to our region and taught a class on course design, which I took, and I had been designing courses for quite a while. We had an event where I was not the course designer, I was simply walking the course because I was competing. The person laying it out had a reputation for just tossing cones around without any concern for proper spacing and ignoring other suggestions in Rogers book. I brought along my measuring wheel and measured the cones in a slalom and noticed that they were completely random, ranging from 50' to 60'. I simply took the average and made them all equal because they hadn't been chalked yet.

    The whole first group, around 30 cars, went through the course without any trouble but one BMW owner in group 2 kept his foot in it when the tail started to wag and he lost control, sliding into a building (yes, the building was outside of the recommended range for a course) and wrote the car off. Of course the race director threw me under the bus claiming that I changed the cones after they had been carefully laid down and that I should be kicked out of the club. He argued that my changes made the slalom too fast. Know why I wasn't kicked out? Because after the crash, the course designer changed the slalom to "make it safer" and I happened to have data from a Solstice that ran the slalom before and after the changes, and the speed through the slalom INCREASED by 20 km/h after the changes. We had no further problems or even close calls the rest of the day and his argument about increased speed causing the crash held no water at all.

    I'll speak for myself here, but I believe this to be a multi-faceted issue.  Much like Bullitt mentioned above, part of the issue is that the changes happen without consultation of the 'acting' safety steward, OR the active course designer.  In reference to your slalom cone mention - I personally like courses that deviate from the norm of slalom, corner, slalom, corner, slalom, slightly longer corner... etc.  By this, I mean that often times I will often intentionally set slaloms in my courses that are NOT 100% even (this obviously has to be done carefully so as not to catch anyone off guard and promote issues)..So this potentially brings up a course designer's vision v. someone else's assumptions of the vision..

    You would also have to consider that if your region (or any region for that matter) was having issues with the course designer, why wasn't that course designer reminded of typical course design rules of thumb/common practices prior to simply changing his/her course?  ...kinda like "teaching" a kid by silently changing what they do wrong instead of having a comprehensive conversation - This approach would take far more than one iteration before a trend was realized as opposed to simply stopping it at the source.  This approach also doesn't do anyone any favors by keeping the peace (someone will likely be upset)... Overall this harkens back to the thoughts of prior posts, where I'll even say I've been in this boat before- Why didn't someone simply come talk to me and express their concerns over what they think are awkwardly spaced slaloms, dangerous proximity to objects/cars, the guy planting banana peels on course... whatever?!

    Lastly, while you may have been "correct" according to your manual of course design suggestion, that ultimately wasn't your responsibility that day - So the fact that you chose to MAKE it your responsibility means that the accountability for poor course design in the event of an should fall on only one person (The designated safety steward), but now doesn't.  Period.    God forbid something happens, the questions go to the safety steward - If they did not approve the course as laid out, then that's the first of many issues.  Even if you stretch it a bit farther and say that the course designer should be a competent course designer without the assistance of the safety steward, there are several "filters" and "pre-screens" that should happen before they're left to be the last word on course event/course safety.  When you add your hand into the mix and nobody knows about it, then what?  What's to say that you, the 12 year old on his bike, or the 85 year old post-labotomy patient man know anything about course design? ...you're absolutely correct in thinking that has no bearing on the situation; likewise, the people who approve the course prior to its mysteriously change(s) will agree - they don't care- It is not as was previously determined to be safe.. Doesn't matter who, when, or how... the fact that it happened without the discussion is problem enough.

    To make one last obscure comparison - You wouldn't sign a legally binding contract that's subject to change after you sign it, would you?       ...Why would you approve a course that's subject to change after it's been finalized and approved?

    Does this make some remote amount of sense or am I just shouting at myself in circles?

    BigEnos
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    17 Sep 2013 03:36 PM
    If you don't want to be responsible, don't touch 'em. I would never dream of unilaterally moving cones at an event if I'm not the course designer. Even as a SSS I wouldn't do it unless I was asked to "fix" something as I saw fit (has happened many times).

    I agree with the OP's tack on this issue. It needs to stop, and I'd kick 'em out of an event for doing it, too.
    lightisfast
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    17 Sep 2013 11:14 PM
    Posted By HotDoggin on 17 Sep 2013 10:04 AM

    ok, now I am just curious.  I guess I really wasn't paying too much attention while walking, but was the cone at the end supposed to be further to the left then?  If so, not sure that would have made a huge difference because the car was already sweeping that direction and the 180 to the right was already there, so it would have just forced everyone to add a bit more distance.  Of course doesn't make it right, but I doubt it helped power cars that much, which also makes it confusing to me that it was moved of all things.  

    I do think the course would have been better had there been a movement there, because, at least to me, a good course doesnt have more than 2 seconds of doing nothing but straight with throttle on it, and that element as moved pushed past that mark.  Unfortunately the tour we had here did not live by that...

    Catch-22
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    18 Sep 2013 09:08 AM
    Our policy is that nobody walks the course until it is finished and approved by safety. When then ask people to chalk cones while walking, which is very common at regional events.

    At some point in the walking/chalking process is when cones are getting moved, which will cease immediately or the persons responsible will find a new place to go play with cars. Zero tolerance, and we now have some solid suspects, identified by their peers, that we will be watching closely.

    As I suspected, it's not a general issue with multiple people, it's apparently one guy (maybe 2 guys) that somehow decided that it is his right to put things where he thinks they ought to be. His assumption is incorrect, and if he continues to do this and gets caught his day is done. If he does it again after that he'll need to permanently find another place to play.

    I will not name names and I will not confront or accuse anyone of anything as all evidence, while consistent, is currently hearsay. I will however once again make multiple PA announcements on the subject and be watching certain individuals very closely.
    marka
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    19 Sep 2013 09:59 PM

    Howdy,

    Posted By loosecannon on 17 Sep 2013 03:03 PM
    I don't know if I'm the bad guy in the story I'm about to tell but here goes. Roger Johnson came to our region and taught a class on course design, which I took, and I had been designing courses for quite a while. We had an event where I was not the course designer, I was simply walking the course because I was competing. The person laying it out had a reputation for just tossing cones around without any concern for proper spacing and ignoring other suggestions in Rogers book. I brought along my measuring wheel and measured the cones in a slalom and noticed that they were completely random, ranging from 50' to 60'. I simply took the average and made them all equal because they hadn't been chalked yet. 

    If you did that at an event that I was chair or SSS at, without permission from me to modify the course, you would be informed in a fairly strong manner that your behavior wasn't acceptable.  How you responded to that conversation would determine if you'd be competing with us that day.

    I have no problem at all with someone bringing up something they think should change on the course.  By all means.  But if you decide unilaterally to change it on your own... You're the bad guy.  I don't give three flying fucks if Roger's booklet agrees with the change you made.

    (this is leaving aside the "how the hell does someone use their own measuring wheel and reset a slalom without someone in charge noticing" of course.  And if said person in charge is ok with you modifying the course... Then have at it.)

    Mark

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