Taking the checkers



At the recent enduro, and misc. sprint races, many good racing efforts have been pointless because of the requirement to "recieve the checkers". What is the rationale behind this rule, besides the obvious? Shouldn't a person or team that goes to the effort to prep a car for a race, travels to the track, pays the not insignificant entry fee, and subsequently has a mechanical issue that causes them to fail to finish the race (DNF) at least be credited with the laps they mananged to complete in the finishing order?

I can see how possibly the rules are trying to discourage someone from simply signing up for a class and collecting points towards a class championship for completing only a few laps, but who really cares if they win a championship in a class where this kind of strategy is possible? It's not like they're accomplishing anything. On the other hand, in a tightly contested points race, at least the effort would have some value.

In many other sanctioning bodies, the laps that a car is able to complete are counted when the finishing order is tabulated.
...and it forces people who may have a mechanical problem to soldier on, possibly at a risk to themselves or others.

Back a few years ago, in the other club, you were scored a finisher if you finished 1/2 the laps of the overall leader, course you were shown in the scored order. If leader finished 20 laps, you had to finish 11, etc. Don't know if that rule is still the same. But, it made sense, you didn't get to "skate", but, if you were having mechanical issues it could've possibly given you some room to get it fixed.
SCCA GCR-6.7.3. Finishers
A. In order to be considered a finisher, a car shall complete half the distance covered by the overall winner of the race. If the race length is an uneven number of laps, divide the overall winner’s laps by two and round down to the nearest whole integer. A car has five (5) minutes after the checkered flag is displayed to complete his or her lap.
B. A car may be considered a finisher if it is pushed across the control line or driven using on-board power (e.g. starter motor). This may only occur in the pit lane. Pushing a car on the racing surface is strictly forbidden.

Wanna race like SCCA?

Talk to your Competition Board Rep. and create a rule change proposal to amend ICSCC reg. 502.A.

Rational? That's racing. You prepare for a 30 minute race, and take your chances like everyone else. The time and money spent in preparation for the race is just as, perhaps more important as the money spent on entering the race.

If the bah-whatzits don't get beat out of the race car in practice and qualifying, it may be better off for the race, if not, well then that's all part of the formula, isn't it?

I know that the 50% to finish idea isn't a new one, but I don't see it in this year's proposals, nor in last years.

Give it a shot, what's to lose?
Check out last year's rule change proposals - Item #2.

The proposal was made to eliminate the requirement to receive the checkered flag to qualify as a finisher.

Vote: 10 Yes / 432 No

So . . . it was given a shot, and it got shot down!
Yes, I understand that the proposal has been made before, and obviously the membership doesn't think the current rule should be changed.

I'm just curious what the rationale is behind this requirement.

There seem to be some down sides to it, as has been mentioned before about the barely running cars coming out late in a race to meet the requirement.
Under option "B" of SCCA rules that would have been tough for the ICSCC enduro. Impossible to push over the line in the 'pit lane'.

However if the question is raised in regard to a certain Mustang, I think SCCA rule A was applied. The turn stations were held on duty in anticipation of allowing 5 minutes for any 'crippled' cars to come out and take the checker. When that driver climbed out of his car after the checker we folded our tents.

Of course the other problem is, our timing/scoring line is not right on the S/F line at Pacific. So that might add some further confusion.

Now if this were LeMans, I'm 98% sure laps completed are what counts for finishing order. Righ, wrong?
In other sanctioning bodies, if you take the green flag, you're credited with with a start, and get at least last place (of however many cars started) points, or you get credit for the laps you do complete, and placed relative to the cars that also may not have completed the race. Where's the harm in this?

Not looking to reinvent the wheel, just once again trying to discover the reasoning behind the current rule.
Sorry Dan. That WAS last year, wasn't it. After awhile every thing becomes a blur.

But let's talk about "other" sanctioning bodies. In real terms...


3. Stopping of a car during the race
a) the driver of any car leaving the race shall signal this intention in good time and is responsible for ensuring that the manoeuvre is carried out safely and as near as possible to the point of exit.
b) should a driver be compelled to stop his/her car, either involuntarily or for any other reason, the car shall be moved off the track as soon as possible so that its presence does not constitute a danger or prevent the normal running of the race.
If the driver is not able to move the car out of the potentially dangerous position, it is the duty of the marshals or other officials to help. In that case, if the driver succeeds in re-starting the car without any external help, and rejoins the race without committing any breach of the regulations and without gaining any advantage from the preceding movement of the car to a safer position, he/she will not be excluded from the race.
c) any repairs carried out on the track may only be made by the driver alone by means of the tools and spare parts carried aboard the car.
d) any replenishment carried out on the track itself is prohibited, and will entail immediate exclusion.
e) apart from the driver -and, in exceptional cases, the competent officials- nobody is allowed to touch a stopped car under penalty of its exclusion from the race.
f) pushing a car along the track or pushing it across the fi nishing
line is not allowed, and will entail immediate exclusion.
g) any car abandoned on the circuit by its driver, even temporarily, shall be considered as withdrawn from the race. A car left temporarily by its driver whilst a race is suspended will not be considered abandoned.

The giving of points not withstanding. This is FIA's take, and way back in the day, FIA was the governing body that ICSCC created their standards by. It's still mandated in the PPM via the Race Official's Division.

Just the facts.
Well, I wouldn't expect many on this forum to be familiar with NASCAR's rules, nor would I expect the reaction to the mere mentioning of the 800 pound gorilla to result any anything but the typical dismissal at best, to outright hostility. Nevertheless, they do give credit for taking the green, or even 1 lap. I can't speak intelligently about other sanctions that run a preponderance of ovals about how they award points.

What's the harm in giving someone 5th place points in a class where 5 cars started the race, or 10th out of 10, so long as they went to the effort to build a car, traveled to the track, paid the entry fee, passed tech, and started the race?

It just seems to me that the prevailing culture of Conference is one of inclusiveness, and pragmatism, and it would be nice for someone trying to have fun doing this amateur racing thing to at least have their best efforts recognized.
If a car isn't running at the end of a NASCAR race it is also considered a DNF. They award points down to 43rd place (34 points), but not to DNFs. That's why you'll see someone tape their car back together and go back out after a wreck, even though it they are no longer competitive with the field.

Bonus points for leading a lap (5 pts), or leading the most laps (5 pts) are kept, but they have to be running at the end to get any place points.

Other contingency stuff not withstanding.

That's what I understand from what I've read about NASCAR.
I would be in favor of changing the system a little.

All cars that complete the timed event should be scored in the order they finish. Cars that are unable to complete the timed event should then be scored after the ones that completed it in order of the number of laps they were able to complete.

Using the starter or pushing a car across the line doesn’t meet the spirit or intent of completing the event.

It is an enduro race not a stock car race. Drivers that build hand grenade engines, or go out and set a blistering pace and use the rev limiter as a shift point pay the price of not being able to run the full event and should not finish ahead of anyone who completes the race no matter how well they ran or how many laps they completed.

I know what it is like to run well and then not be able to finish. We learn from our mistakes and try to do better the next race.

NASCAR Nextel Cup awards points to 43rd place (all cars), regardless of whether the car is on the track at the finish. DNFs have no impact from a points perspective in the sense that we apply the status, and aren't even articulated using that vernacular, rather the terms "out" and "off", usually with a brief description attached of the cause, "engine, accident...".

If a car takes the green and blows up immediately after crossing the start/finish line, assuming that 43 cars started the race, they earn 43rd place points, and the money that goes with it.

In other NASCAR sanctioned series, all the way down to the local Saturday night short track Weekly Racing Series (WRS), and in my experience most other roundy-round sanctions as well, points are awarded the same way. If only 12 cars start the race, and a car blows up at the line after taking the green, they will earn 12th place points. Four cars equals 4th place points minimum, and so on.

The occasions when you'll see a wounded car come out, usually follows a multi-car incident, and the teams are trying to turn at least one more lap to distinguish themselves from the other cars that were collected and gain the finishing position and the points that go with it. For example, if an incident happens that takes out 10 cars, and one car makes it back out for a single additional lap, that car gains 9 positions in the finishing order, and the points that go with it. Many times it's worth it if only two cars go out on an incident for one of the cars to try to make one more lap, because of how tight the points are in the Cup series, and the huge implications of each season points position money wise, and staying in the top 35 to guaranty a grid position.

Now, I'm not proposing that road racing in general, or Conference in particular, should model their points paying structure after NASCAR. I am abundantly familiar with the usual reaction from most road racers when NASCAR is mentioned, that people's ears slam shut.

However, I am curious why this type of recognition for good efforts seems to be out of favor with the people that voted on the last proposal, that only wanted to remove the requirement to take the checkers, let alone the requirement to complete 50% of the laps. There are very real negatives to this requirement as well, like having poorly or barely running cars out on track at the end of a race, when many times hotly contested classes are making their last ditch efforts to overtake a competitor.

Again, I'm just curious what the prevailing philosophy is that mandates the 50% rule, let alone the taking the checkers requirement.
"There are very real negatives to this requirement as well, like having poorly or barely running cars out on track at the end of a race, when many times hotly contested classes are making their last ditch efforts to overtake a competitor."

This is going to happen regardless of the points structure, because as long as the car can move under its own power there's the chance of improving position over someone. It may be that they stay out, or it may be that they wait in the hot pits until the last lap or two, but either way the effort can and will be made.

The difference comes for cars that absolutely cannot continue: these benefit from a system like NASCAR's, and lose out for a system that awards points only to those who take the chequered flag.

Under the current system, many drivers must consider their budget first in making the decision about whether to continue to drive an ailing car: you're out there asking yourself whether you can afford to repair the damage you may be doing by trying to finish the race so your entire weekend's efforts and expenses won't be wasted. If you have ample resources (and plenty of you do, though you may have become accustomed to thinking of them as barely adequate), the answer is easy. If you're racing on a short shoestring, not so easy.

If the intent is to keep as many drivers on track as possible, then assuring every competitor that their efforts will be recognized in the point structure can't hurt. And there's one thing we don't have to worry about...

"If a car takes the green and blows up immediately after crossing the start/finish line, assuming that 43 cars started the race, they earn 43rd place points, and the money that goes with it."

At least there's no argument to be made that Conference can't afford it...

In fact, given what it costs to get in the gate these days, we have to ask ourselves if we can afford not to give drivers every possible reason and incentive to, and reward and benefit for, spending their money - and time - at our events. With entry fees nudging $300 at some tracks, anything we can do to make our sport more attractive we had better get busy and do - and if it costs us nothing, how can we lose?
Good points Danielle, thank you.

Your quick analysis looks like either way is a wash in terms of potential negatives, but there may be a potential positive to awarding points rather than a DNF and no points.

You hit on the principle point I'm trying to make, that if there are no substantive reasons to not recognize a competitiors efforts, then why the current majority opinion?

I'm sure I'm missing something though, I usually do.
Randy, In the past I have been an advocate of changing the "finish rule" to allow a finish if you complete half the laps. One reason is to align our rule with SCCA, making it easier for SCCA drivers to come race with us. The main reason was I saw a driver from Oregon who was going for a Championship, spend a large amount of time and money to race at Mission. With 5 minutes remaining in the race, another racer in a different class took out the Portland driver causing him to dnf. I felt all his "efforts" were for not because of no fault of his own.

When I have talked about these reasons at rule change meetings the replies have been, "Thats racing", "In order to get a finish you first must finish", "We are not SCCA", ". I respect and accept all those reasons.

This does not answer your question as to why drivers have this belief. Here is one possible answer.

If the "finish" rule ever does come up for a vote again, I will vote against it. Maybe the majority of ICSCC drivers have it correct, on this thread we are all talking about "efforts", possibly they are more concerned about "results". In todays world most people feel you should receive credit just for trying. It appears the drivers of ICSCC are saying "no" to that belief and "yes" to results are what counts. I now believe "results" and not just "efforts" should be rewarded.
Randy, how long are the races at the lower level NASCAR races? For the top level races, I suspect the incentives (points through 43) are provided to get cars back on track for TV purposes primarily for these main events that can run 3-4 hours each week. More cars on track mean more story lines.

Formula 1 is the opposite. Look how long a car is in the pits (not very long) before they decide to park the car. The one time in recent memory F1 teams did send cars back out was when the next race's qualifying order was set by finishing position at the previous race.

I like the idea of taking the checker. It has a nice ring to it. But I'm not sure I was impressed with the half dozen cars at the last Portland Group 5 race that took the green flag in that ugly rain race, then pitted in the hot pits for most of the race, then went out around the last lap board to take the checkered. The plus side was my wife Stephanie, who's not very fast in the rain, did at least slog it out for 30 minutes in that race, and received a 3rd place trophy plate for her efforts. She gained a lot of confidence in her wet track skills in that race.


Lance Richert
#35 PRO-3
That pretty much says it all Lance. Stephanie ran the entire race in very bad conditions and "finished" the race. She didn't sit in the pits waiting for the 5 minute board, she raced, and as you said gained invaluable experience in the process.

Pat and I were the recepients of the bad luck that plagued Tim and Peter in their wicked fast Cobra R, and while I feel bad that they broke, I do not feel the slighest guilt about taking the win. We were only 2 laps down after almost 4 hours of slugging it out in lousy conditions, and that definitely "is racing." Most of us have been where the Mustang ended up, and they would be the first to tell you that you have to be around at the end to take the win. They completed 124 laps, which would have placed them 8th overall and 2nd in P0, which I'm sure would have eased the pain a bit for sure.

If you don't finish a championship race, you get 3 points for a DNF, but also credit for that event toward both the required number of races to count for year-end points, and toward counting for the 3 to keep your number.

Of course with the current points system, a driver in a class of say 9 cars who DNF'ed would get 14 points instead of 3 if we gave credit for 9th place instead of the DNF. Does a driver deserve the extra points when he breaks or crashes while his competitors finish? I don't know, but I have a hunch this will come up next November, and that's probably a good thing.
Wes, I crashed my car early on this year, had two laps on practice. Budget and time kept me out of the rest of the year. I got 1 point. I am not sure I even deserved that one point for being impatient and doing a dumb thing. I did learn something valuable though, so I guess I do deserve the one point.

My opinion; Start the Race, don't do dumb things, stay away from dumb people doing dumb things, finish the race, get points. Do dumb things get only a few points to make you think about the dumb things you did (maybe even negative points).

Kudo's to Stephanie for keeping with it the entire time.
"I see dumb people, they're everywhere." I hear you Kyle, and I agree. Dumb is a weird word, but very descriptive in our culture.

I guess it's the folks who run hard and fast and then break at the very end that we are discussing in this thread, but as always there are two sides. Do they deserve points as NASCAR does, or the 3 points for DNF as we do? I personally don't think it's a bad idea to award points for the effort put forth. As I said, in a class that has high entries, even 15th place points would be better than the 3 for a DNF. I'd take 8 anyday over 3, especially if it was my only hiccup during the season.

We as an organization have the opportunity every year to change the rules we don't like. Why a change was so soundly voted down a year or two ago is probably what Dan said; drivers in Conference are more concerned with results rather than effort. I remember 20+ years ago when we had 8 points for 1st, 5 for 2nd, etc., so if you missed a race your competitor picked up the 8 points, and it really impacted the season for a lot of drivers who could not attend the away races like Westwood or Deer Park. So this current system is the best we've had in the last 35 years in my opinion, but could it be tweaked a bit? Of course...
We're talking about club, amature racing. Some of you are missing the point. If in fact we are talking about the Mustang, he got paid just a s much as the winner.

It is my understanding that the rule was put in place years ago to encourage poeple to drive in a safe manner. To help make sure you make it to the finish line. To help make sure your buddy makes it to the finish line. So there are good times at the BBQ after the race.

Do you really want to be racing with a guy knowing that if he crashes you out on the last lap that he still deserves 3rd place just cause he lapped everyone else. No, the intent is to be safe. THe rules are different elsewhere for there good reasons. Ours our different here for our good reason. SAFETY.