View Full Version : Thanks from the Car Crew and St. LAC

05-29-2017, 09:34 PM
On behalf of the organizing group, the Car Crew as well as the Executive from St. LAC, I want to thank all you competitors and crew for participating in our two events at Picton Air Field.

We had 90 drivers on Saturday and 83 on Sunday registered with MCO using the Sunday event as part of their slalom series.

I hope that number is a good indicator of high participation and enthusiasm for all the remaining events of the series.

There was some concern at the beginning of the week about wet weather but the rain gods left us alone and the whole weekend turned to be just what we all needed for great driving conditions.

Feedback to us from those of you who we asked, was that the courses were challenging and enjoyable. Glad to hear. Besides his usual philosophy of smooth and flowing lines, Sergio did add a few interesting unsual sections that added to the challenge.

It was difficult for me to have to reduce the number of runs on Saturday afternoon to two vs the three in the morning but the marshal switch-over was the main culprit. Fortunately, you listened to us so that on Sunday those coming off driving quickly got onto Johnís trailer to get out to marshal. As a result, you all did get six runs. If there is a next time, the rotation (as rightly questioned by some of you at the Sunday Drivers Meeting) would be that the Rest Group has to then do marshalling. The unusual venue that is Picton Air Field dictates that.

Good luck and happy auto slaloming for the remainder of the season.

--Eric Brunner (Organizer and St. LAC Past President)

05-29-2017, 11:26 PM
Know what would have made a bigger difference in run numbers? If the club organizers were doing their job instead of sitting in a circle 700' from the timing tent talking about the good old days.

Or maybe if we actually started on time.

You are literally blaming the people who help pay your bills for your own errors.

That attitude, combined with the poor organization is why you only have 90 cars instead of the 120 of years past.

05-30-2017, 08:24 AM
So that's one persons opinion.

For me, and I think pretty much everyone else, Picton is the highlight of the regional season. The venue is like nothing else that we (currently) have. Sure there were some issues with the weekend (timing software acting up, usual "flow" issues with the day, event timing etc etc..) but in the end it was, and always is, a ton of fun. What Picton weekend hasn't had it's issues? It's generally venue related.

I'm not going to choose sides as I've been on both at Picton (competitor and organizer) so I know all the challenges and obstacles that are faced. Sure there are things that need to be tweaked to help the day/weekend along, but in the end I'm grateful to the car crew for stepping up and giving us another event at the Picton Airport. Something that I can only hope will continue to happen.

IF there's another Picton event, which i really hope there will be, the region, the club organizers and the competitors can all do their part to help make these events run more efficiently. Maybe feedback can be a bit more constructive moving forward. No finger pointing necessary from either side.

Thanks Eric and crew! Fun weekend!

BTW, what's the deal with the venue? Do we still have reason to believe we may not be going back?

05-30-2017, 10:17 AM
I am thankful for those that were there to run the event. Was it perfect? No. Was it any one person's fault? I don't think so. Getting started earlier would have been nice. Getting marshals out quicker would be ideal. Could we run later on Saturday to get our six runs?

One word of caution about changing the run order though...if you think that the group resting should then marshal, that means the group marshaling will be the next to drive. Which means there won't be any cars sitting at the starting line ready to go once the marshals are in place. All you do is shift the waiting time from the beginning of the marshal change to the end...and I'd guess that waiting for everyone to get to their cars and line up in some semblance of numerical order would take longer than waiting for the last few guys to show up at the trailer.

In the end, I think we, the competitors, could try a little harder to help the day run smoother. Competitors: we all know that there's supposed to be a drivers meeting at 9:30...how 'bout we try being at that meeting without it being "announced" to us? Organizers: you need to tell us where said drivers meeting will be, and you should probably be there too. Competitors: we can also report for marshaling a little quicker...cut the chit chat and get to the trailer. Organizers: more trailers would help speed the process.

I really hope this isn't the last time we run at Picton.

05-30-2017, 11:53 AM
the owners of the airport are in England (Loch Sloy) and the airport is currently up for sale. so the future ??????

05-30-2017, 03:21 PM
I think the pavement, while old, is still the same to me as when I started running 12 yrs ago. Its a big task to organize competitors- kinda like herding cats.

I think i shall win the lottery and buy picton.


05-30-2017, 04:56 PM
Even if we rest->marshal->run, we end up with time problems because we wait on cars coming to the grid, grid order ends up a huge mess, and people don't have time to prep their cars before griding. Is it still better overall?

Some suggestions for sending marshals out (you might be doing some of these already):
-use 2 trucks & send the first full truck out to the far stations asap. That first truck could be ready and waiting for the last car to launch.
-leave the nearest stations open until last so that the last 1/4 of people who miss the bus can walk out.
-send the bus out without waiting for everyone (3/4 full?). The last few can walk to the nearest stations. This might be hard to organize & might require pre-assigned stations, with the highest numbers sent walking to the nearest stations, & maybe they could be allowed to park on the exit taxiway in order to save some walking.

05-30-2017, 09:00 PM
First of all - thanks for hosting the event. It was my first time out at Picton (for someone who's been in and out of autocross for years, that is a shame I know) but I thoroughly enjoyed the course!

Regarding the organization of the event - this is definitely an avenue to improve upon so let's be productive as a group (organizers and competitors) to determine a solution that doesn't cost more money.

So what we do know is that:

1- We only have one truck and trailer to haul marshals out and back in.
2- We want to have cars lined up for the next run to keep things going.
3- We MUST have marshals at each sector

Issues that I noticed in chronological order:

1. Late Start
2. Rule confusion
3. Marshal changeover is slow
4. Marshalling duties not fully explained
5. Cones out of place not noticed (for Street Class in afternoon session)
6. Not much replacement cones

Keep in mind, I do not know what precipitated the issues since I wasn't working the event but here's what I can offer for advice for improvement.

Issue #1: Late Start
Have the drivers meeting SHARP at a pre-determined time that is revealed to all folks as they show up for registration. This means this is on the organizers. Advise ALL drivers to be there SHARP and 5 minutes before the meeting use the megaphone and remind folks "FIVE MINUTES TO DRIVERS MEETING" and then call it out again 1 minute before but say "DRIVERS MEETING". This MUST HAPPEN regardless of whether the course is ready or not. It only takes one person to run the drivers meeting plus whatever guest (in our case Bruce) to do his talk and thus shouldn't take away much from the course setup. Assign one person this key job to run the drivers meeting - preferably someone with lots of autocross experience.

Issue #2: Rule Confusion
The course appears to be premeditated well before the day of the event. ALL options must be called out in drivers meetings. Anything NOT called out means free game for drivers to make decisions. I received heavy conflicting information on the "pin" on day 1 that we had to turn right (to go right of cone) on approach but there was no leaner cone! In all other events, if no leaner, it means OPEN TO INTERPRETATION. We were lucky no marshals called anyone off course thanks to the heavy experience out there.

Regarding the actual course rules, be sure to cover the down and out rule, the explanation of a gate versus a leaner vs a pin. I noticed this was not fully explained and if we truly are trying to grow this sport, we must assume there are rookies in the crowd. Engage them!

Leaners have never ever counted in any autoX event I've been to. This should be dead clear to the person running the driver's meeting which leads me to re-iterate that the person running the event should be a veteran of autocross events.

Issue #3: Marshal changeover is slow
Truck that delivers marshals needs to be more pro-active. When a run is nearing the end (say 8-10 cars left), the truck should be driving up and down the paddock to pick up the people who just ran for marshaling duties. Co-driver of truck is on the megaphone calling out folks. This makes it easier for marshals to come up to the truck (versus the loooooong walk to the bathrooms where the truck is parked) and will encourage people to show up since they are essentially being PICKED UP.

Truck should also have a list of people in that group who should be marshalling and cross them off as they are picked up. This should be mentioned during the drivers meeting: TALK TO CO-DRIVER FIRST BEFORE HOPPING ON. Anyone who doesn't report has all their runs disqualified. Harsh? Yes. Fair? Also yes. Drop the hammer on this one. By the time 20-30% is picked up, all cars are done and the truck should be able to see who's coming off and go to them for a pickup.

Advantages: This eliminates the time folks forget they have to marshal and then meander over to the truck. Truck is pro-active, like a good defenceman's hockey stick should be. The second advantage is that IF for whatever reason the pickups are slow, the runs can still happen (yes, the current marshal group gets overworked slightly but the show keeps going).

Marshals should be assigned a station number as soon as they report to the truck. This bunches people up at stations who show up together. As the truck hits the station number, truck calls out which car numbers man this station. Why do it this way? Usually friend park next to each other. If said friends are in the same class, they bunch up. If they bunch up, they show up to marshal together. Let them bunch up at a station (within reason and capacity of the station). This keeps people happy they are with friends (if they care about that). This is particularly n00b friendly!

I believe the current method of marshal -> rest -> run is the best out of all scenarios after thinking this through and discussing with the event staff for all of the above reasons.

Issue #4: Marshalling duties not fully explained
Back to the person running the driver's meeting! Needs to mention:
- Marshals to WATCH cones in the wake of the car and not the car itself
- Radio check to be done in order of increasing station number ('Radio check' - "Go for Station #1", "Go for Station #2", etc.)
- Marshals if unsure should be given liberal use of red flag. No judgements will be made. Unsure? Redo. This includes not feeling like there is enough time to correct a cone (see issue #5).
- Marshals need to spread out
- Marshals need to hustle in and out to retrieve cones OR we slow down release of cars. Had a few situations where I was told to go but I clearly saw a marshal up ahead meandering their way back off to the side.

Issue #5: Cones out of place not noticed (for Street Class in afternoon session)
Thanks to the keen senses of Mike Aversa, he noticed that right after Street class ran in the afternoon on Day #2, the leaner + upright cone in the final runaway was WAY OFF course compared to the morning. Sadly, none of us in Street Class noticed this and there's now enough data and screen caps to prove how drastic of a change this made. From what I gathered, the root cause of this issue was that the leaner and upright cone both were punted far from the original location and when the marshal got to the cones and tried to look for the proper location, (s)he got confused by the PRE PAINTED boxes from someone else's event.

Solution? When laying out course, persons doing so must look around and X out previous boxes or use a different color. Course maker needs to be cognizant of other boxes! Seems obvious but I clearly saw plenty of other boxes on the ground and if I'm under the gun to either get run over by Mike or put a cone down without looking too carefully, I'd just slap the cone down. I don't blame the poor marshal - we set him up to fail.

Issue #6 - Not much replacement cones
Each station had one cone from what I saw and it was holding up the box holding the radio. Each station should have 2 more cones to form a leaner and an upright. At least one cone got eaten and spat out waaaay down the course. This helps issue #5 as well.

I'm trying to help make this event better - please don't see this as a nitpick. I'm always one to say "if I'm gonna complain, I better damn well have a solution to offer as well".



06-07-2017, 09:44 AM
Know what would have made a bigger difference in run numbers? If the club organizers were doing their job instead of sitting in a circle 700' from the timing tent talking about the good old days.

Or maybe if we actually started on time.

You are literally blaming the people who help pay your bills for your own errors.

That attitude, combined with the poor organization is why you only have 90 cars instead of the 120 of years past.

Speaking of attitude, I think yours it totally out of line. It's easy to hide behind a fake name and take pot shots at a group of volunteers who organized an event for the enjoyment of all competitors. At the very minimum you should properly identify yourself and apologize to this forum for your unsportsman like comments.

Many thanks to the St. Lac club and friends for organizing such a great event. It was worth the drive even for the one day I attended.

Jud #47