Monday, October 17, 2022

CFR 2022 Organized Play Concludes (Finally)

 

In the end, only 4 points separated the top two drivers this season.  With last year's champion Stephen Peeples just edging out former two-time champ Don Tatum.

The rest of the top 10 was a mix of regulars and break-throughs.  Michael Polcen runs his streak of top 10 finishes to 5 seasons (1 short of Don's 6 seasons).  Chris Long and Tim Mossman have had multiple top 10 seasons before but Tim was 40th last year and Chris hasn't been top 10 since he finished 3rd in 2018.  James Benham made his first top 10 last year.

Jason Schultz ended the season 20 points behind our champion but in only his second season of organized play.  Will Kennington, Justin Swaine,  and Brent Fitz also made their first appearances in the top 10 this year.

But lets dig into how Stephen beat out Don this year.  Below is a break-out of how each of them got points this year -- their top 5 race results and their top 2 tournament results.  And some general data as well.


That general data tells an interesting story.  Stephen beat Don despite Don winning more races (and even a higher percentage of races) and more tournaments.  But you can also see the first clue here of how Stephen overcame that -- tougher competition.  By design a field rating of 1 should be average (the median race field rating was 0.97 this year).  So we can see that Stephen's average race was considered above average in difficulty of competition while Don's was -- on average -- considered below average.

This doesn't mean that Don was racing against shlubs.  What it really means is that most of Don's wins came against smaller groups of opponents and/or not the very best of competition  Below are the top 11 races, ranked by field rating this year.  


As you can see, Stephen won 4 of those races.  Don won 2.  Stephen also had a second place in one of these races.  In fact, those are the five results that add into Stephen's score for the year.  Because the points you get for results in a race are multiplied by the field rating of that race, you can see how Stephen ended up with more points than Don.

To find Don's other wins, we scroll down that list a little.


Don's 3rd best win was against decent competition but not the very best.  A bit further down the table, Don's 4th and 5th (... and 6th) wins were against smaller fields.  Anything less than 8 people is considered a smaller field and will tend to have smaller field ratings.


That last bit is based on my most recent adjustment to the scoring (see this post for some detail on that change).  And yes, this change was made mid-season as I saw more than the usual number of smaller fields seem to really skew results.  I acknowledge that this might be controversial.  But I will have more to say about that in a future post.

For now, lets congratulate Stephen on his #1 ranking and Don for another outstanding season.

The Regulars

Don Tatum participated in what I am going to assume is a record 35 races this season (and season high 6 different tournaments).  That comes out to 40% of the number of races Don could possibly have participated in (and almost 40% of the tournaments).  Will Kennard participated in 28 races and Kevin Keller in 25.

Rookie of the Year

Rookies did not show prominently in the rankings this season.  But Chris Manning gets the nod by ranking 68th in his first season, powered by a 2nd place finish in one of the the two races he participated in.  Andrew Koerber was  close runner up at 70th.

Most Improved

Doug Galullo had a down year in 2021.  Having been ranked as high as 2nd in 2018, he fell to 97th last year.  But bounced back this year to 17th.  Much more his usual territory.  Honorable mention to Jason Schultz Who won 6 races this year and jumped from 73rd ranked last season to 3rd this season.

Steward of the Year

This is probably my favorite award.  Stewards make CFR happen.  Especially organized play.  I try to find new people to highlight every year but in a first... (I think) a repeat for Brian DeWitt.  Brian not only has people nominate him every year... he ran a very impressive 12 races this year.  Often as double-headers.

Other Numbers

This season saw a record number of races in organized play at 87 -- 4 more than 2020.  And a larger increase in the number of racing opportunities at 53 -- up from 45 in 2019.  Many tournaments are set up such that you can't race in every race because there are effectively or literally multiple races going on at the same time, the number of racing opportunities is always a bit lower than the total number of races.  The total number of drivers participating in organized play was up from last year to 122 from 104.  But 122 is still down from the 219 high of 151.  Field size shrunk this year from 9.4 to 8.3.  Field size has generally been shrinking over the last 10 years or so.  Although it had held pretty stead around 9.5 drivers per race from 2017 through last year.

Monday, June 20, 2022

2022 Organized Play Update and a Ranking Tweak



We are well into the 2022 CFR Organized Play season and I've updated the rankings.  Finally.  Thank you for your patience.

Note that these rankings do not account for the 2nd races from my series.  Updates from those races will occur when all results are in.

A note on the aforementioned ranking tweak.  I noticed as I was entering race results that we had a larger then usual number of low player-count races -- 4, 5, 6.  These results seemed to be skewing the rankings so I made a tweak to how I adjust race scores based on the field.  I used to simply use the average ELO of the top 10 drivers in the race.  This was designed specifically to not penalize people for smaller races.

Now, I'm taking the top 8 driver ELOs and dividing by 8.  So if there are fewer than 8 drivers in the race, it will not be worth as many points.  I am happy with this fix but there is another big consequence.  This spread out the value of wins a lot more than in previous seasons.  Most wins were pretty close in value, maybe with a difference of 2-5 points.  Now there is enough spread that there is some overlap in the total points for "bad" wins and "good" 2nd places.

I'm doing the same thing with tournament points now as well.  For tournaments I used to be looking at the average of the top 20 drivers.  Now I'm taking the top 8 divided by 8.  I haven't yet seen any 4 driver tournaments but this does mean that the top heavy tournaments will be worth more.  Which I think makes sense since only the top 3 drivers can get tournament points.  So the 18th best driver in that series is not too important.

Back to this year's rankings.  One result of the bigger point spread for wins is that there is still plenty of opportunity for the top drivers to improve their scores as the season closes out.  A high quality win could be worth 10 points or more to any of the top drivers and the top 4 drivers are all currently within 8 points.

So I'm going to be keeping a close eye on the top series in my PBeM.  Stephen P, Chris L, Don T, Michael P, and James B are all in that series and a race win there is a big win.  Stephen and James are also neck and neck for the series win.  That should set everything up nicely for the last tournament of the season at WBC 2022.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

WBC 2022... It's On!

 

Indianapolis corner 1 at the end of a 4-wide straight.
Two years ago WBC steward Chris picked tracks for the WBC CFR tournament.  Now you all will finally get to race those tracks at WBC 2022.

Instead of repeating myself... here's the list of tracks.

Good luck all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

CFR 2021 Organized Play Wraps Up

 

A couple tourneys (mostly mine) ran longer than anticipated this season.  So this is later than usual.  By a month or two really.  But its wrapped and we can crown a champ.


2021 OP Champ: Stephen Peeples

Huge congrats to Stephen.  Stephen won 8 races this season -- the most of anyone and nearly half of the 18 races he participated in.  He also won 2 tournaments -- tied for the most tournament wins.  This season culminated a sharp rise to the top for Mr. Peepels who raced in his first ranked race in the 2018 season.  He was ranked 40th in the 2019 season and 6th last year.

Michael Polcen's top 5 races were slightly more valuable than Stephen's but Michael did not win a tournament this season -- coming in 2nd twice instead -- spoiling his bid for a 2nd title.

Dave Ling placed 8th officially but did win two of the more prestigious tournaments (Redscape's C1 and my P1).  But he won only 2 races all season plus only 2 other podiums to end up with fewer points for his top 5 races than the other drivers around him.

Defending two-time champ Don Tatum came up short of the three-peat but did continue his streak of ranking top 4 in all 5 of the OP seasons so far.

Complete Results


Most Improved: Thomas Van Hare

Thomas was ranked 98th last season and jumped up to 30th this season after winning a race and the Hamilton series this year.

Honorable mentions: Robert Rund has been ranked in the 40s for the last 3 season and really put it together this year for 7 wins and a tournament victory to end up 5th on the season.  Mike Greason moved up from 74th to 17th.  Kevin Harrington from 78th to 25th.  Kathryn Harley from 88th to 32nd.  Larry Dygert from 101st to 42nd.  Leon "Blacketo" from 120th to 64th.


Rookies of the Year: Curtis Milburn & Jeff Caldwell

I couldn't bring myself to single out one of them.  Curtis and Jeff finished ranked 44th and 45th, less than a point apart.  Curtis participated in 10 races.  He didn't win any but did grab 2 podiums.  Jeff only participated in 4 races and did no better than 5th... except for the race he won.


Steward of the Year: Brian DeWitt

I got a nomination for this award this season.  I don't think I ever have before and honestly should ask for them in the future.  As racing started to occur in person again this year, Brian offered up his house for the DMV series -- hosting double race-days with large scale cars and lunch!  I'm sorry I never made it.  Maybe next year.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Supercharged: light, quick racing

 

I got my Kickstarter copy last week and the game has taken over my workbench since then.  I played probably 10 games, all solo.  My quick reaction at this point:  This is a light, quick-playing game with some engaging bits.  I liked it.  Quick disclaimer, Jim Dietz was instrumental in getting CFR published for which I will always be grateful.

Light, Quick-Playing

Racing games have a habit of being long or being racing games in theme only.  I applaud designers Mike Clifford and Mike Siggins for coming up with a quick play game that feels like racing.  I admit that people looking for deeper decision making may not enjoy this game.  But I also think that there is a bigger decision space here than might be apparent at first.

It is tempting to think that your only decision is which of your cars to 7 spaces and which to move 6.  But more often the decision is really IF you want to move all of that speed or not.  Slipstreams make a huge difference in this game and shorting yourself a couple spaces this move to set up a slipstream is probably worth it.  Or maybe you should move fewer spaces to create a blocking situation for some cars right behind you that have yet to move this turn.  Or maybe I want to move a little less because it means that a car that moves up behind me later in the turn will be in a curve and not eligible for a slip next turn.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the thinkiest game.  But after a couple plays you can find ways to be thinkier with your moves.

Engaging Bits

There are some specific design elements I really enjoyed with this game.  The grid position assignment was very well done.  Faster teams will be randomly assigned to grid spots 1-4 and then mixed in with the next tier of teams for spots 5-11 and so on.  I think this works really well as there is a level of randomization within constraints.


I love that you can reconfigure the track.  Although I get that this is mostly cosmetic.  The reality is that the track only matters to the degree that you can change the order and quantity of straight spaces versus curve spaces.  If you are going to use all of the pieces every track, there are really only so many variations you can create.  And yet, it’s fun to do.

This is not an overly produced game but I really like the design esthetic of the 1930s era cars and the added bit of rationale when cars get bounced from races is great.  (Yes, drivers got sick ALL the time during races back then.)

Rougher Bits

As with any game there are things I did not like as much.  In my first handful of plays I noticed the track was REALLY clogged up in the back during turns 1 and 2 after the starting procedure.  If the random determination of who went first was mostly backmarkers you ended up with a LOT of spun cars because there was literally nowhere for them to go.  Recovering from a spin requires a pull from the Action Deck and can mean that car is done for the race.  Lots of spun cars means you churn through the Action Deck which means more and more Events.  Events can be random one time bonuses but can also mean random retirements.  While I saw this happen more in early turns before the field naturally spreads out, I would typically cycle through the Action Deck about 3 times per race.  I get that a lot of retirements is very thematic, but when I saw the French team lose both cars that were 1-2 in the race a turn from the finish line it just felt bad.  This would have been a table-flipper if it were competitive.

So, I came up with a couple ideas, one of which I REALLY like.  First a little background. 

Every game you control two different teams.  Each turn, 1 card for each team is shuffled together with cards for all of the other teams and that random draw determines who moves in which order.  This very random turn order is what I think is the cause of more mayhem than I enjoy.

My Supercharged House Rule

At the beginning of the turn, each player puts one of their team’s cards facedown into the “moves first” pile and the other facedown into the “moves second” pile.  Randomly assign half of the privateer teams to each pile.  When the two piles are complete, shuffle each, and then place the “moves first” pile on top of the “moves second” pile.  The cards are then drawn from this combined pile. 

If one of your teams has had both cars removed from the race, continue to play both cards because that hides which pile you put your remaining team in.

This ends up doing several things I enjoy.

First it helps solve track congestion issues.  If I see that one of my cars has a lot of traffic in front of it that I want to try to avoid, I can put that team’s card in the “move second” pile.  Maybe things will have cleared out.  I felt like this played out the way I’d hoped.  But it also had another impact I did not anticipate.  Because fewer cars got stuck in situations where they had no options and had to spin, I churned through the Action Deck less.  Now I’m shuffling only once per game not three times.  That means a LOT fewer random events knocking out drivers for no real reason… especially late in the game.

This rule also adds a decision to every turn that was not there before.  Sometimes it seems relatively obvious that I should make one of my teams go first and the other go second.  But often I saw myself considering both teams for different reasons.  And then you are put in a situation to maybe prioritize one team over the other or start trying to anticipate the other players’ choices here.

I’m sure this modification is not for everyone, but if you are looking for more decisions and less random give it a try.

Solo

A few words about Supercharged as a solitaire experience.  Supercharged solo is not set up to be competitive.  You aren’t racing against the game.  You are just running the system to see what happens.  I actually enjoy that kind of solo experience but I realize that will not be best for everyone.

I also decided that I’d rather play this game solo with the 4-player rules than the solo rules in the box.  I think the game is easy enough to play multi-handed.  There is not a TON of player interaction in your decision making.  And it’s easy enough to anticipate what a Team might decide to do based only on their situation and not trying to anticipate other Teams’ moves.  This also means you get to play with the Tactics cards which provide more decisions to make and keeps more cars from spinning out.  The Great Maneuver card is often a get out of jail free card when you would otherwise be stuck spinning.

To Sum Up

A light, quick racing game with enough flavor to feel like racing.  The lighter level of decision grit keeps the game light and quick but your satisfaction with that will vary.  I recommend my turn order modification.  I also recommend playing 4-handed solitaire and not the solo rules in the game.  It honestly gives you a better flavor of the game.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Annie Bousquet, Race Car Driver


I was developing a version of the Reims race track for Championship Formula Racing when I noticed that one of the corners was named for someone I did not recognize.  Who was Annie Bousquet and why does she have a corner named after her?

It turns out that Annie Bousquet was a race car driver from 1953 until 1956.  And her career would make an excellent movie.  

The opening scene could be a hotel lobby bar at a picturesque Italian ski resort (Sestriere in the Italian Alps along the border with France).  We would see two Italian race car drivers regaling an audience with their tales of life at over 200 kph.  One of those drivers is double F1 world champion Alberto Ascari.  In the background Annie listens intently – her recently broken leg propped up on an ottoman.

Fast forward a few months: Annie’s cast is removed and she almost immediately enters her first rally.  

In addition to being a race car driver, Annie Bousquet was a woman.  In the 1950s women were reportedly more tolerated in Rally racing as it was considered a more casual form of auto racing.  Annie was herself turned away from the 12 hours of Sebring which frowned on women participants.

Annie did manage to enter a number of sports car races, many of which were FIA sanctioned championship events.  She also broke the female lap speed record in 1955 – posting an average speed of 230.5 kph at Linas-Monthery in a Porsche Spider.  The previous record of 215 kph had been set in 1934.

But a mere 4 years after her first organized race, Annie’s racing career would come to an end.  In January of 1956 Annie’s husband died in a car accident.  Annie kept racing.  In June she was entered the 12 hours of Reims but her Porsche was being repaired and was only ready the night before the race and 500 km away from the track.  She drove through the night and insisted on taking the first stint.  She suffered a fatal crash an hour into the race.

The reaction to Annie’s death followed a familiar dichotomy between treating Annie as a driver or as a woman.  On one hand the corner where she died was named after her and a racing award was given her name.  But the governing body for the 24 hours of LeMans banned women – a ban that lasted until the early 1970s -- and the French Automobile Federation currently has no mention of Annie on their web site or the award they named for her.

The race winner reportedly suggested that fatigue played a role in her crash but a number of written accounts of Annie’s life suggest that she was “a victim of her own enthusiasm” or focused a lot of attention on how often she crashed.

I prefer to look at Annie Bousquet as a race car driver of the 1950s.  As such Annie was constantly pushing the limits of an immature sport – very much like every other 1950s race car driver I’ve read about.  Like many others, it sadly turned fatal.  In this case, cutting off a career only 4 years old.

Sources

First Ladies: Female Racing Drivers, 1888-1970
by Jean Fran├žois Bouzanquet, 2009

Only a broken leg. Yours, Annie
Article in Porsche customer magazine Christophorus, No. 387, October 8, 2018

HistoricRacing.com profile

Speed Queens profile
by Rachel H-G, January 23rd, 2010

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Championship Formula Racing Organized Play Update

 Seventeen races and one tournament into the 2021 season and I'm putting out the first report using the new ranking method.  

Its early days but James Benham is in the top spot right now for 2021 after winning the Redscape Fall Squall series this weekend.  Your right-this-second top 10 and more detail at the links below:

This could end up being a completely virtual season... depends a bit on what happens this summer.  So I expect that some drivers may not get as much racing in as they usually do.  But the opportunities for PBeM or TTS racing have increased since the pandemic hit so I anticipate a good season either way.

Keep racing everyone and I look forward to more results in the future.