Tuesday, April 3, 2018

PrezCon 2018 Results

Huge thanks to Chris Brandt for running the CFR event at PrezCon.  Its a great event.

Below is Chris' recap of the proceedings.



Prezcon 2018 was held February 19 - 25, 2018. The Championship Formula Racing (CFR, nee Speed Circuit) Tournament consisted of five races, each with some unique theme. We also changed the process for getting to the final. Although we count points for each heat (1 point for participating + 3 for a win + 1 for each driver you beat) it no longer determines the starting grid, so bidding for start position is still critical.

But, before we started racing, we held a brief ceremony in which Dave Ingraham was presented with a “FERRARI CFR SET”, consisting of a 1/87 Ferrari Enzo, numbered 18 for the year, a set of Ferrari speed cards and matching red dice. Let me tell you, 1/87 Ferraris are hard to find. This one was disassembled, stripped painted, and a driver positioned in the cockpit. An engraved plaque cited Dave as a driver and friend.

Heat 1 – Mystery Track! (Wednesday 2/21/18 – 1700)

The first track was built on the spot, a Prezcon tournament tradition. It was a lengthy track and we crammed 11 drivers onto it. Here’s a shot of the entire field, early in the first lap. 

As the race went on two things were clear Chris G, driving the Austin Healy and Mike L, driving the silver and orange 911 were going to rely on the dice. Chris used the cubes heavily to get out to an early advantage but, as they always do, they failed him eventually and he dropped out. Dave’s new Enzo, in the middle of the pack in this picture, waited for the right time to make a move. And, he had a lot of it, as the track was a bit too long for a tournament heat and people ended up burning through their wear. To the right is the full track, perhaps the drivers found the different pavement types distracting as many of the modular pieces were undergoing renovation.

So Dave’s Enzo ended up in a duel with defending Champion Don’s yellow DELL Porsche 911. As the went down the final straight, confusion ensued and Don, attempting to prevent a high speed draft opened the door for Dave’s Ferrari to slip inside and take the win when Don failed his top speed roll. The third picture of this race shows the final seconds as the cars flash across the finish line. Current number 1 ranked driver Doug Galullo finished third, but that trio left the others way behind.

Here are the final standings for the first race.
1. Dave I
2. Don T Failed TS roll to get edged by Dave.
3. Doug G - Failed ACC roll near the end.
4. Lane N - Came out of nowhere but was WAY behind the first 3.
5. Chris B - Broke brakes midway through, hurting the come from behind plan.
6. Mike L - Ran out of wear early... but didn't break anything!... except dice rolling records.
7. John S - Broke top speed pretty early but hung in to finish.
8. Stuart T - Had to leave.
9. Chris G - Left suddenly... must have made two dozen rolls successfully, of every sort...
chance, top, brake, accel... it was nuts.
10. Scott S- New to the game. Didn't expect it to last this long. Had to leave.
11. Bill Beckman - Crashed

Awarding points as described earlier gave Dave 14 points, followed by Don at 10, Doug at 9 and
so on.

Heat 2 – 90 Minutes du Prezcon. (Thursday 2/22/18 – 1300)

The 90 Minutes du Prezcon was an experiment in conducting a timed race. We raced for 90 minutes, finished that turn and then five more. This caused a LOT of confusion. Although we ended up racing just over three laps there was concern about how many laps of wear and skill we would get – the race rules stated, “Three laps of wear and skill”. There was concern about people “gaming” the system and delaying if they were doing well. (Editor’s note: Some people are painfully slow under all circumstances, not just in a timed race.) There was confusion over drafting in the long banked curve, even though it was repeated numerous times and posted on the track map and on the curve itself.

This race started the same as the prior one with a handful of drivers taking off at a sprint. Brian DeWitt, a twice-defending champion, missed the first race, but played skillfully in this one. The rest of the field went at a slightly more moderate pace, trying to conserve a little wear, and see what the leaders did to each other. Eventually the usual lack of wear slowed them all down, and the rest of us closed in. It once again came down to the last turn. Dave had passed Doug and Don and was behind Brian – and even got by him. But Brian came back with a little more speed and got inside of me in the last corner. There was drag raced to the finish, with Brian winning, by virtue of being on the inside, and Dave right beside him in second. The rest of the field was very close behind. For whatever complaints there were about the race, it was very hotly contested.

1. Brian
2. Dave
3. Doug
4. Stuart
5. Don
6. Lane
7. Chris B
8. Mike L

Sadly no pictures exist of this race, so perhaps time will eventually erase its memory. From a GM standpoint, I still think this is a good idea and it didn’t seem to faze most people. I’m not the GM next year, but would like to see some sort of timed race used again in the future. 

Heat 3 – Prezcon Mille (Friday 2/23/18 – 1300)

The innovation continued with Mille Prezcon - one long torturous track. This race drew a slightly smaller field, perhaps because people looked at the track and feared that we would be racing three laps, but we raced only one, although we allowed 3 laps of setup for wear and skill. At just about 200 spaces, this was a long track with 22 curves, many of which had varying radii, tight curves, long and short straights, and, of course, a bridge. Dave later noted, “It was a shining example of what is possible with a modular track design system. It was very cool.” 

Here’s one of the top ranked CFR drivers, Don Tatum, enjoying a aerial view of the track. This was all built using two different modular systems, a “parallel edge” system and a hex system, along with the conversion pieces to link them together. We were lucky that another game had left three tables together and covered for this nice setup. Surprisingly, Don kept smiling during the entire race.

The Mille turned out to be a unique race. There was no repetitive groove to be found because each upcoming turn was a new adventure. It was too big to pinulate, so Don had to drive by the seat of his pants, which was most unusual for him. 

Here’s a shot of the pack crossing our now famous bridge. Yes, it’s a little steep for race car suspensions, but we have not had a fatality… yet.

This race proved to be an interesting change of pace. The drivers appeared to enjoy it, it was very competitive, and we were able to pick up the track as we finished racing across pieces of it, speeding
cleanup, which is extremely important in a tightly scheduled convention with people ready to swoop down like vultures when a table comes open. 

Winner Dave Ingraham provided his own account of the race to another of the groups in which
he races. I could not improve on this!
The start went pretty well with the leaders, for once, not being able to pull away from the second pack, as least for a while, and a couple of us were able to still stay with them. Doug, Don, Stuart Tucker, myself and Mike Greason separated from the last three cars. We stayed in that pack for nearly the whole race, until wear started to get thin. By the way, I want to thank all of these four for providing a huge number of slipstreams to me. It saved considerable wear and kept me near the front. In the end, it came down to the last three corners. There was not much wear left in the front runners. I had the car with the most with three. Doug had one, Brian, who had caught up with the leaders had one, and the rest were without. I led, and after the next to last corner, had moved away enough to not be challenged, and finished in 1st by eight spaces by Doug, Brian and Don in very close order.
Thanks and congratulations to Dave!

Heat 4 - Short Track Mayhem (Saturday 2/24/18 – 0900)

No fancy poster for this race. This was five laps on a very short track with just four curves. However, each driver was given only THREE laps worth of wear. This meant that we did approximately the same number of curves and spaces as we did in the Mille, but this time we were repeating the laps and establishing an effective route was critical. With the confusion of the start and finish laps considered separately, this gave us three laps of consistent racing.

As you can see, the track is very simple, although it does incorporate our famous bridge. The bridge was also the only two lane portion of the track, meaning that passing was not too difficult. There were a wide variety of car designs for this race as different drivers approached the greater number of laps differently. 

The many different strategies meant that the field became very spread out. Don leapt out to his usual early lead, but the pack eventually reeled him in as his wear ran out.

With three curves to go, Dave was sitting on six wear and looked to be in  command. But a couple of very rare tactical errors at the end allowed Chris to sneak to the inside lane and take a win after three lackluster finishes… with Dave right beside him. This locked up Chris’s participation in the final, which had been in doubt (by Chris!) up until that point.
In the shot to the left, you can see how spread out the pack was about halfway through the race.  That’s Don’s yellow Porsche in the distance, but he was unable to maintain that lead.

This was another experimental race. We had not done this before and it seemed to be well received by the participants. I believe it’s worth considering for future events.

Finals – (Saturday 2/24/18 – 1600)

The finals were run on the Padborg Park track, one of several built from the modular system. Fortunately I have a bunch of books with track maps and there’s this thing called the internet to provide more data, including videos, of races at these tracks, so the modular system has proven to be very useful in creating just the right track for different types of races. 

Padborg Park is a difficult track for which to plan. There are some long straights, but there are also very tight curves. In addition, some of the curves are just close enough that it can be very expensive to spend wear in two of them at a time.

Nonetheless, current World Number One ranked Doug Galullo edged last year’s champ, Don Tatum for the win, with Dave Ingraham just behind in third. If you’re watching the rankings on the Speed Circuit and Racing Games Facebook group, you’ll note that these three drivers were #1, #2, and #4 ranked after Prezcon, which seems to bring a stronger field each year. 

Final Results:
1. Doug Galullo
2. Don Tatum
3. Dave Ingraham
4. Mike Lind
5. Chris Brandt
6. Stuart Tucker
7. Lane Newbury
8. Brian Dewitt

I present another of Dave Ingraham’s colorful writeups. Many thanks to Dave for these and some corrections he provided.
At the start Don Tatum stalled. Meanwhile, Brian DeWitt and Stuart Tucker jumped off to a quick, one turn lead. The rest of us hurried after them, with Doug Galullo leading this pack. Near the end of the first lap, Brian’s engine blew up, putting him out of the race. The rest of us continued to chase Stuart, with Doug pulling away from us, and closing on Stuart. By this time Don (in the yellow Porsche) had caught up with us, and was back in the chase.
The last two laps were a bit frustrating, as I couldn’t seem to get past a veerrryy wide BMW. When I finally did, it was too late. Doug won handily, followed by the comeback driver of the race, Don. I squeaked past Stuart for third, when he crashed in the last corner, with Mike Lind 4th and Chris Brandt 5th.
Here are some pictures from the finals. Enjoy the pictures and please come join us next year!
The Track – Not especially complex, but it was very competitive.

The Pack – Trying to catch Doug!

Doug’s Camaro stretches his lead on the way to victory.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Imola Build

My latest track build was Imola and I'm very happy with how it turned out.  Imola is the other F1 track in Italy and has hosted a number of grand prix under the name of the San Marino grand prix.  San Marino being a small nation in central Italy near the track.  Huge thanks to the San Marino group for giving me a great reason to build this track.

My usual process starts with lots of research...

Here's my notes (pdf) after watching these videos and more, reading notes online, and finding speed and braking notes for each corner.

I went into the build thinking most corners would have racing lines with only one decent path through each corner.  I also felt like this was generally a tight track that was hard to pass on... except Tosa -- which I would give multiple paths through to create the action we would sometimes see there and that I would try to exaggerate for game balance.

Here's my initial sketch of the corners for each track.

This initial plan worked out really well and I was just about to wrap up development when I noticed that the track was a LOT longer than I had planned.  Somewhere along the line, I lost track of my planned space count and made the straights a lot longer.  I had to cut them back a lot.

As a result I got pretty creative with some of the corners... effectively taking spaces away from some corners to add spaces back to some of the straights.  I think the end result is a technical track that drivers will have to pay attention to or risk taking a corner wrong because they assumed they knew how it would work.

Tosa is clearly the signature corner of this track.  As one of the slowest corners on track it provides a braking opportunity and one of the few good passing locations in real life.

As you can see, this is not a "normal" looking CFR corner and combines a lot of tricks I've used before.

Having the racing line in the middle lane means that in some cases, a car can under-cut that ideal line if they have the braking and/or wear to pull it off.  Allowing a car to accelerate 40 mph from the first inside 40 space into the following 80 space can make that particularly effective if they hit that apex just right.

The two 100 spaces outside provides another avenue through the corner which can be effective if you hit it just right.  Leaving the speed off of the last space of that path also means cars can accelerate quickly from that lane.  Lining up the last two spaces of the middle and outside lane provides cars with ways to avoid congestion in case of slow traffic ahead.

I'm excited to see how the track works when raced in anger for the first time and pleased that that will occur at the San Marino game convention to boot.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

P1 PBeM New Season Announcement

The 2017-18 season is over for my play-by-mail series.  Which has been struggling with branding for a while now but I'll now be calling the P1 series for this post.

Doug Galullo won the season after winning the 1st two races in the top tier -- coasting to the series win even after finishing last in the final race of the season.  Below is the 2nd to last turn of race 2 in Baku.  Doug was 4 spaces behind Don and Chris a turn before this image.  Going 200, Doug closed the gap through the last corner.  Next turn, Doug would push to 220 while Chris L would fail his push to 180 and get beat out at the line.  Third to first in the last turn of the race for Doug.

Now lets look forward to the next season featuring some changes.  First off, thanks to everyone who responded to my survey (See the survey results).  Here's the summary of what will be new.

  • No more mid-season demotions or promotions.
  • Slip movement guidelines.
  • Bidding change.
  • New series names.

Mid-Season Driver Movement
I was leaning towards eliminating the mid-season driver movement so I was glad to see the survey results agree with me.  I think the move from a pure ladder to more of a pyramid structure for the series means that people can move from the bottom to the top tier in a couple season.  I also do not like punishing drivers who push hard for a race and crash or dnf.  For instance, Chris Long ended up performing very well in the top tier this year but DNF'd the first race of the season.  Having 2 races to prove he should stick in the top tier was good I think.

There was some controversy in the top tier last race about double slips and the appearance of team-work.  Guidelines will be promulgated to the stewards so that we can promote as fair a racing environment as possible.  All of the words will take up a lot of space.  The short version is:
You can't line up to give someone else a slip next turn, unless there is another reason to.
Those reasons can be many and pretty liberal but there has to be some reason.

Knock-Out Bidding
For the 2017-2018 season, the 3rd tier will stop using knock-out pole bids.  The top two tiers may continue to use knock-out pole bids if the drivers and stewards in that race unanimously agree.

Since the races do not directly feed into each other this season, I had the freedom to rename the series.  The top tier will be named P1 after the series at large.  The two second tier series will be named Divoll and Reilly after the co-designers of the original Speed Circuit.  The third tier races will be named after old formula greats: Ascari, Clark, Fangio, and Moss.

Other Updates:
The Driver and Steward line-ups will be announced later.  If you would like to volunteer to be a steward, let me know.  It is no lie to say that this series would cease to exist without the excellent stewards that sign up for more time, effort, and grief than you'd think.  If you want to help out, I will be very grateful.

The first race of the season will be Montreal (pdf) -- so sharpen your knives.  I will announce race 2 and 3 in the season at later dates.  The main reason I delay announcing tracks for this series is that it is the most effective test bed for my tracks.   One race of a track in P1 is now 7 play-tests at once.  In 3-4 months, the track I most want to validate or test may be very different, so I hold off as long as I can.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Organized Play 2018 at the Half-Way Mark

This blog post is going to start like a confessional.  It's been two months since my last post but I have another organized play update.

click for larger

Here's our new top 10.  As promised, we now have two tournaments in the books for the 2018 season.  No surprise than that the winner of both events now tops the rankings.  Doug Gallullo was 4th a couple months ago, but he won PrezCon and then won my Play-by-mail event.  The points from those events plus two more good race results puts him nearly 50 points ahead of Don. 

But more points will be available as the season progresses.  Three live series are scheduled to finish up by early summer and the Redscape play-by-mail series has started its final race.

Already, 2018 has eclipsed the inaugural 2017 season in nearly every category.  So far, 119 drivers have been ranked over 50 total races.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Organized Play Rankings Update for Championship Formula Racing

I've been silent for a while... been busy at work and my web site went down!

Still busy at work, but the web site is back up so here's a long over due update on the 2018 Organized Play rankings.  But with not a lot of words...

< click to see larger size >

A quick look at the current top 10 above shows some of the usual suspects, some drivers showing improvement from last season, and some new drivers to these rankings.

Doug G is looking strong still with his only 2 races being strong wins.  Tim Baker has the best single race score so far on the board.  No series have completed yet but Doug G is in line to score a ton of points as the champ of my Play by mail.

So far in 2018 there have been 29 races ranked including 102 different drivers -- which is already a new record for drivers ranked in a season.

Looking ahead, my PBeM will be finishing in the next month or two and PrezCon is gearing up for February.  That will close out the first two series / events of the season which will add more detail to the growing puzzle of who will win the 2018 season.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

CFR at Winter Game Fest January 13th

Last Year at CoG Winter
Winter Game Fest is right around the corner.  If you can get to Rockville, MD, $20 gets you tournaments, an open gaming area all weekend, plus access to a Championship Formula Racing race.

The race will take place at 10:30 am on Saturday.  We will run 3 laps at the modern configuration of São Paulo [track map PDF].  I will run a demo at 10:00 am.  This race will be an official CFR Organized Play event but beginners are welcome as always.

The convention is open 9:00 am to midnight Saturday and 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Sunday.  I will be there more or less the whole weekend.

The event is held at the Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive, Rockville, MD  20850.  More information can be found on the event site, including pre-reg.

Corner 1 at Sao Paulo (from my Historical Driver series)