whose daughter races barrel horses heavily
and one of the topics we touched on
was (National Barrel Horse Association) NBHA format which we both thought might have the potential to address some of the issues we face as a state with small bike racing fields.
Problem: In Nebraska, and probably other sparsely populated areas, category driven races end up with super small fields. This leads to a mixing of categories, which in theory, shouldn't be much of a problem, but which really seems to affect they way strategies and tactics play out, and doesn't really solve the core numbers problem. For example, in Norfolk this weekend, there were only 8 of us in the men's 1/2/3 combined.
This same problem used to affect barrel racing when it was divided into rider age categories and the number of barrel races dwindled to the point where good races were hard to come by and when you found them, only an elite level horse and rider team could hope to win anything for their efforts. Then the NBHA came along with a novel way to address categories and payback (winnings) called the 4-D system.
4-D stands for four divisions and it works like this:
- 1st Division: These are the riders with the fastest times. ·
- 2nd Division: These are competitors who ran ONE-HALF (1/2) SECOND or SLOWER than the OVERALL fastest time.
- 3rd Division: These are competitors who ran ONE (1) SECOND or SLOWER than the OVERALL fastest time.
- 4th Division: These are competitors who ran TWO (2) SECONDS or SLOWER than the OVERALL fastest time.
- One doesn't have to be an elite rider or have the elite level horse to make a little money. One can compete from beginner to expert on solid but differently talented horses. If you don't have the fastest horse to win in the 1D, you might be a regular winner in the 3D or 4D. Because everything is based off of the speed of the fastest horse that day, there's no categorization or accusations of "sandbagging."
- Horse and rider age independent. All entries go into one cash payback pool with percentages being paid out to each divisions placings.
I'm not sure on the division time splits or how many divisions there should be, but I think that could be easily calculated from race results collected over a season. One might also want to have two races to divide the raw beginner from the more experienced, for the sake of safety. But from there, you could combine everyone and perhaps have a much more interesting race for the following reason:
- Everyone is motivated to be as fast as they can be b/c they don't know what the divisions will be until the end. Moreover, the faster the divisions pay a little more than the slower ones.
- The lack of categorical division would allow teams to use more members for the races and thereby hopefully employ more of the strategies and tactics used by pro teams.
- By not having to have prizes for so many different categories, perhaps the divisional payback could be richer and not be so top-heavy (mostly going to the elites with mere medals or tokens for the slower folks).
- How to keep track of lapped riders. Maybe this isn't such a big deal b/c they manage to do this now, but I don't know how.
- Too many riders in a field. But, this could be addressed with multiple races. If you fill one field, say a 50 rider limit, just run another race, or divide the total number, so you have two good sized fields randomly divided, then the final prizes are still time-based.