Pinewood Freak

Pinewood Freak header image 2

Rule complexity (Rules, Part 2)

November 28th, 2006 · 1 Comment

I’ve seen race rules that are 3 pages long and set in small type. They cover wheel location, building materials, lubrication, sportsmanship, and even list allowable construction methods.

This is madness.

All this complexity is going to lead to mistakes, arguments, and more problems than you would believe.

When creating complicated rule sets, people tend to create many rules are subjective or are difficult to enforce. How do the race inspectors examining wheels ensure that they weren’t lathed? Are they weighing each wheel? Visually, lathed wheels can appear to be completely stock. Some races have prohibitions on cars from previous years or on pre-cut cars. The intent is to keep kids from using last year’s car. I agree with the intentions — building the car is part of the fun. But who can tell for certain which cars are pre-cut or a re-paint of their older brother’s car? Rules like this should be presented as guidelines that should be followed instead of rules that should be enforced.

The problem with trying to create a rule to cover every possible situation is that you can’t possibly think of every possible situation. Even baseball, which has hundreds of individual rules — including ones to cover things like animals getting onto a field or a ball getting stuck in your sock — understands that the rules can’t cover everything (they made a rule to cover that problem). The more complicated you make your rules, the more impossible they will be to enforce. You’ll introduce conflicts, ambiguities, and loopholes — just look at the US tax code.

Simplify your rules. It will make your race more enjoyable by far.

This is the second in a series of articles aimed at race officials. In the series you’ll learn why complicated rules hurt the kids and the integrity of the race.


1 comment so far ↓

  • Rando // Feb 14, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Why no pre cut cars? Several kids use them, including us. the boy is 9 this year. I have old stock from a hobby shop that included some precut bodies. I have NO wood working tools. I do have modeling tools and sandpaper. No usable saw other than a circular saw.

    I showed him how to sand with a dremel drum and let him do the work. Then to refine the sanding to round the contours - til he was sick of sanding. Then I showed him how and let him spray the primer. then to brush paint a slick body.

    If left to use the stock block, we’d have to spend our time together (I’m a divorced dad) buying tools and such. I’d rather spend my time working with my son than having to cut wood blocks into a sliver. Our cars so far have looked like actual “cars” as much as possible. But to win, we are going to have to get a saw ( i will) and teach him to cut that block into a sliver or wedge. I guess I did not get the premise of the science and was working towards the artistic part. We already build model cars together and have raced large scale slot car models in the past. Next year will be more science. And maybe a show car to run at practice. We’re already working on that.

    My issue is the inspectors that don’t KNOW the rules they are supposed to enforce; locally, they only know some of them and enforce those while letting others go. If you are going to have rules, have an inspector that actually knows them and maybe, just maybe, have a set on the table to refer to at inspection.

Leave a Comment

© 2006 Pinewood Freak.