RACE: Predicting the Runoff winners

>From: JPM Dillon <102044.3322@CompuServe.COM> This article is uploaded by the author and will appear in an upcoming issue of something somewhere. Regional magazines are welcome to use it without charge. I only ask that you preserve the...

>From: JPM Dillon <102044.3322@CompuServe.COM>

This article is uploaded by the author and will appear in an upcoming issue of something somewhere. Regional magazines are welcome to use it without charge. I only ask that you preserve the copyright and send me a copy. My snail mail is P.O. Box 1231, Thousand Oaks, CA 91358-0231.


The JPMD Runoffs Calculation Algorithm: A Method for Predicting the Winners of the Valvoline Runoffs

copyright 1996 by John P. M. Dillon

Let's get mathematical.

When asked to identify the S2000 winners for the upcoming Valvoline Runoffs, your correspondent was in a quandary.... the contestants are largely unknown to me, the past issues of SportsCar are buried in a box somewhere (I recently moved) and my deadline was extremely tight. So what's a guesstimator to do?

If you're an engineer, you look for an equation.

I decided to come up with an algorithm to determine who would win the Runoffs. I assigned points to each competitor based on several factors; the one with the most points would be (the reasoning goes) the likely winner. Here are some of the factors to be considered.

Domination points: Give the driver D points, where D is the number of entries in each race minus his finishing position. For example, if a guy finishes second in a field of five, he gets three points. On the other hand, finishing 3rd in a field of 30 would give him 27 points. We should probably set a maximum of 25 points; otherwise the June Sprints winner would have it locked up!

Adaptability points: A driver needs to be able to handle a variety of racing conditions and situations. The best way to learn these skills is by racing at a variety of circuits. For each race track he's run in the last year, give him 5 points. If a track has multiple configurations like Buttonwillow or Hallett, treat each major configuration as different track.

Track familiarity points: Just as a driver needs to adapt to different tracks, he needs to know the home court. Give the driver 2 points for each time he's raced at Mid-Ohio in the past year. If possible, include non-SCCA races as well.

Secondary track familiarity points: Give the driver another point for each track that he's run that's similar to Mid-Ohio. Road Atlanta and Willow Springs don't qualify, but Pocono or Road America might. (I can't be more specific because I've not been to the latter two.)

Weather points: Give the driver three points if he races under conditions similar to Mid-Ohio. An imperfect heuristic might be to include any tracks within a 500 mile radius of Mid-Ohio, and perhaps Northwest tracks (Seattle and Portland) as well. Firebird Raceway or TWS probably don't fit the Mid-Ohio pattern.

Runoffs experience points: There's nothing like the Runoffs to prepare you for future Runoffs. Give each driver five points for every year he's raced at the Runoffs. If he's raced in more than one class, give him an extra two points for each additional class.

Racing experience points:  Seat time--it means a lot, so our formula should
reflect that.  For every year a driver's been racing, give him a point.

Past champion points: Experience is worth something here too. If a driver is a past national champion, he gets an extra 10 points for knowing how to get to the top. Multiple championships earn an extra 5 points each.

"Lookin' good" points: It takes a strong ego, one dedicated to winning, to send you to the front of the pack. Nothing strokes your ego like seeing you or your car in a magazine. Add one point for each time a driver is mentioned in a column, and another point for each time a photo of the car is published. If he gets local TV exposure, tack on another 5 points. If he makes it to national TV, he hits the jackpot - 25 points.

Sponsorship points: You know the adage about speed and money. Sponsorship dollars usually translate into better equipment, more testing time, superior preparation, and fatter crews, so let's give a driver 3 points for every sponsor listed on the entry form (or perhaps clearly identifiable on his race car). These are sometimes called "rich daddy" points because a rich daddy will usually put his own company on the side of the car.

Points points: Add to the drivers final score the number of points he scored in division. After all, he deserves credit for his efforts, so we might as well include that credit here.

Putting all these factors together yields a complicated mess, but let's try it anyway.

[note to editor: numerals for T1, T2, E1, E2 should be subscripts]

Total = D + A + T1 + T2 + W + E1 + E2 + C + L + S + P

where: D = Min(30, NumEntries - FinishPosition) A = 5 * NumOfTracksRun T1 = 2 * NumOfRacesAtMidOhio T2 = NumOfRacesAtTrackLikeMidOhio W = NumOfRacesAtTracksWithWeatherLikeMidOhio E1 = 5 * NumOfPastRunoffRaces + 2 * NumOfPastConcurrentRunoffsRaces E2 = TotalNumOfYearsRacing C = 5 * NumOfChampionships + IIF(NumOfChampionships > 0, 5, 0) L = NumOfTimesMentioned + NumOfTimesPhotographed + 5 * LocalTV + 25 * NationalTV S = 3 * NumOfSponsorsListed P = NumOfDivisionalPointsEarned

The proof of this equation will be left as an exercise for the student.

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