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NC A&T, SC State advance in Track and Field Championships Saint Augustine's University North Carolina A&T sweeps MEAC indoor track titles again. "Do you think there's any way I could meet Alan? when he wins the season- ending race at Homestead and the Sprint Cup championship. .. There are still goals to focus on, metrics to track, and careers to nurture and from visual search toward a B2B product enabling indoor navigation of places. by Henry Apple | February 5, at a.m. 0comments?Share At A Glance . Arkansas state indoor track and field championships. At Randal Tyson Track.
Check out the free-body diagrams below: On the left, you have the flat track case, where the runner uses friction to turn. The runner actually has to exert a force in the opposite direction just to stay upright.
No lateral force, inward or outward, is required to move around the turn. Rearranging the variables in the equation above, we get the relation at the bottom of the figure: So using this relationship and assuming a turn radius of Optimal bank angle for various speeds around an indoor track with a turn radius of Again, this is assuming a constant turn radius: For example, if the radius was 16 m instead of When Sifuentes and Osika ran 4: When Erin Finn ran 8: Running Slower than the Optimal Speed?
That means that even he along with the dozens of guys who ran under 4 minutes there this season may have still had to generate a bit of frictional force outwards just to stay upright. This got me thinking: Does a runner subconsciously speed up a bit to lessen or attempt to mitigate the vestibular challenge and foreign muscular demand of staying upright? A good study for a facility with a hydraulic, variably banked track… Another important consideration on the opposite end of this spectrum would be the detrimental effects of running slower around a steep bank.
Those strange lateral forces and stresses may create a new injury risk for runners spending a lot of time on that steeper bank. While there are conversions from the NCAA for m flat-to-banked and m flat-to-banked, it treats the bank as binary index of facilities. Curiously, they do have a regulation on banks, with the upper limit being degrees. The angle of banking should not be more than 18 degrees for a meter track. Thus, a degree bank ensures that just about all the elite races, male and female, sprints to long distance, will be running faster than a speed that would cause them to have to generate that weird force to stay upright.
This is the case at U of M, but it maxes out at 10 degrees! This is the same with other hydraulic facilities in the country, and Mondo, one of the major companies that manufactures and installs these surfaces and systems, specs their hydraulic offerings at a degree max.
This is what really bums me out — the ideal case would be a system where you can tune the track to the race being run! Some guys want to go for sub-4? Set the bank to degrees!
Somebody wants to go after the world record in the ? Crank it to 25! I'm a gear head. People who wish they could drive fast cars look up to Nascar drivers.
People who wish they could build fast cars look up to Nascar crew chiefs. And although every Cup-level crew chief has clawed his way to the upper echelon of the industry, above that level are the handful of crew chiefs who work for the premier teams: For a crew chief, those positions represent the true summit of the sport.
Yet, as is the case with most achievements, there are downsides. In Moneyball, after Brad Pitt pulls off a trade he knows the media and fans will criticize, he says to Jonah Hill: Why don't you win more races?
If you want this job, you must accept that your leadership skills will often be questioned. Above all, if you want this job, you must accept that your decisions will constantly be questioned. But what exactly is this job? Tuesday Morning Manager's Meeting It's an unremarkable conference room. Industrial gray carpet, a series of tables arranged in a large rectangle, fluorescent lighting, largely bare walls. You could be anywhere in corporate America.
Most leadership teams don't wear pants, shirts, and jackets displaying the logo of a corporate partner in this case, Under Armour. Most leadership teams don't represent the Apple, Google, or Amazon of their respective fields. Most leadership teams don't assemble some of the best engineers, machinists, mechanics, and strategists in the business to achieve a goal that can be approached but never achieved: That's because this is Hendrick Motorsportsthe leader in series wins among all modern owners and home of the most Nascar championships.
In five days, Jimmie Johnson will add to those totals when he wins the season-ending race at Homestead and the Sprint Cup championship. And that's because you're sitting where outsiders never do: What you're about to learn is that running a race team, for all the experimentation, testing, computer modeling, and brainpower required, still has more to do with leadership skills than hard skills. At HMS, hard skills just get you in a door--a door, not the door.
Soft skills are what turn a collection of talented individuals into a great team. Soft skills turn knowledge, skill, and experience into fast stock cars.
Soft skills create the true foundation of championship organizations. But there is nothing stock about a "stock car. Hear the acronym "Nascar" and you might picture tomato sandwiches, chicken fried steak, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy At the highest level of the sport, good ol' boys except possibly in spirit need not apply.
Rather than searching for groundbreaking technological shifts, like Braun's revolutionary rear diffuser design that led to a championship season in and left other teams scrambling to catch up, a Nascar team must search for small, incremental gains--say, applying slightly thicker decal striping to increase downforce by a fractional yet meaningful amount--that in aggregate will result in a slightly faster car.
That's why many Nascar races are decided by tenths or even hundredths of a secondwhile most Formula 1 races seem like a procession of cars led by two silver Mercedes. Both sports attract incredibly smart people who love the combination of intellectual and physical competition.
Their relentless search for innovation begins, as in most businesses, in meetings. The cars and drivers get all the attention and press, but the everyday pulse of progress and innovation beats in conference rooms and offices. The race car that rolls off the starting grid is the result of hundreds of people deciding what to change, what to build, and how to race it once built. But in meetings--as in life--authority does not automatically confer intelligence.
Nor does heavy-handedly exercising authority foster a sense of empowerment and teamwork. Both are things that Alan and Keith Roddenthe crew chief of the 5 car, clearly appreciate. Instead of naming the driver, in Nascar, the car number--as in "the 5" or "the 5 car"--is regularly used to refer to a particular team.
It's shorthand that implicitly speaks to the importance of the car in the overall equation: While an average driver may sometimes win in an exceptional car, even the most exceptional driver cannot win in an average car. Alan and Keith are ultimately responsible for the performance of their teams. Their opinions matter the most. Yet they remain relatively quiet, respecting the fact that shop foreman Steve Hlinak oversees this meeting.
Steve is the main liaison between the crew chiefs and the dozens of employees who work in the race shops. His job is to manage and deploy the resources that turn their needs into reality. Alan and Keith submitted post-race feedback notes ahead of time, as did their respective car chiefs, Josh Kirk and Todd Devnich.
Steve uses those notes to run the meeting and debrief the previous Sunday's race at Phoenix. The list of items is surprisingly short. If you're getting into 15 or 20 items every week, that's a bad thing. At the beginning of the year, the list is long because of rule changes and inspection changes At a macro level, listening is clearly more important than talking, and understanding is more important than impressing.
For all the time and effort that went into preparing for it, last Sunday's race at Phoenix now only matters in how it can be dissected to reveal areas for improvement. Then the discussion shifts to plans for the season finale at Homestead, as well as plans for the next year. Without getting too technical--if only because I'm incapable of getting too technical--the new chassis specifications will create changes in how the cars will be constructed. That's business as usual, though: Cars are constantly under development, whether because of rule changes or because of improvements discovered by the different HMS teams.
Improvements to one area of the car almost always creates problems in another. A single change to the chassis or body can create a ripple effect on build and overall performance. And that's when the room loosens up. Ideas are proposed, considerations weighed, possibilities discussed I don't detect any agendas or interpersonal issues. Everyone just wants the cars to be faster. Even with the extensive rules Nascar enforces--current regulations run hundreds of pages and are updated on a seemingly constant basis--possibilities for potential improvement are endless.
Although HMS is an organization with enviable resources at its disposal, deciding what not to work on is as important as deciding what should be. So is making decisions and moving on. A hood fit issue on the 24 appears to be a problem without a quick fix. Unlike the relatively overbuilt hoods on street cars, a race car hood is thin, flimsy sheet metal.
Prop the hood up for too long and it can sag in the center. The hood on the car used at Phoenix sagged enough that it fit poorly on the cowl support, breaking negative air pressure and impacting aerodynamic performance. In time, the group appears to reach consensus on how to address the hood issue, yet Alan lets that conversation end without resolution. When I worked in manufacturing, closure was king. I try to empower the guys. You have to accept the occasional mistake or failure that comes from letting people figure certain things out for themselves, but that's the best way to get performance and build a real team.
That way, they'll work together and come up with a solution and then brief me. Or they'll ask for input and I'll help shape the solution. Doesn't that approach waste valuable time? Micromanaging is definitely not the way to accomplish either of those goals. High performing organizations are often built by optimizing processes and procedures Plus, engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence.
I care when something is "mine. And freedom breeds innovation. Even heavily process-oriented tasks have room for different approaches. That's why smart leaders give their employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best.
So even though some crew chiefs still try to oversee every detail, micromanaging is a fast track to a short career. As best I can determine, the average crew chief's career span is approximately three years. Micromanaging isn't sustainable for many reasons, chief among them the overwhelming mass of information that must be synthesized and the countless decisions that must be made over the course of the longest season in professional sports.
The Nascar race schedule runs from February to November, with only a handful of weekends off. And the offseason itself isn't really "off": A successful crew chief must constantly balance control and empowerment, knowledge and trust--an uneasy equilibrium made even harder by the relentless pressure to perform. Josh knows he needs to follow up.
He'll stay on top of it. They'll sort it out and get back to me. Shop Meeting The manager meeting ends and we walk downstairs to the shop floor. Everywhere you look are cars in various states of preparation.
All the employees affiliated with the 5 and the 24 teams gather around. Although it's a couple of years old, here's a video that will provides an inside look at the HMS campus. Alan speaks first, recapping the weekend at Phoenix. The car was good in practice and they almost won the pole: Chase qualified third, five-hundredths of a second behind from pole-winner and teammate Alex Bowman. Alex subbed for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
They started the race well and decided to pit early in the first run to take advantage of fresh tires and hopefully gain a second or so per lap on the leader, but a caution flag caught them in the pits. They fought their way back through the field, gambled by changing two tires instead of four on the final pit stop, but eventually finished ninth.
The result was disappointing but Alan remains positive throughout and thanks everyone for their hard work. Keith then steps forward to recap his team's race. The 5 car wasn't fast on new tires but sustained speed well on long runs. Keith is also happy with his team's progress. They amassed five top finishes in the last 10 races of the year and he's optimistic about the Homestead race.
Unfortunately, Kahne will be involved in a late-race crash and finish 37th. Up next is general manager Doug Duchardt. Doug is responsible for overseeing all competition-related departments: He reminds everyone to make any yearend employee benefits changes and announces a pep rally will be held on Wednesday for the 48 team. It's natural to assume that racing is somehow different from "normal" businesses, but in most ways, it is not. There is a need to perform; the main difference is that victories and defeats play out on a public stage.
There are still goals to focus on, metrics to track, and careers to nurture and develop, but many of those aspects play out publicly as well. Success is rewarded and failure is punished Each week there is only be one winner.
Thirty-nine other teams are left to wonder what happened--and what they can do differently the next time.
But that is also business. Maybe what makes racing different is that most of the people involved genuinely love the sport--or at least love the work that goes into the sport.
They work too hard and sacrifice too much not to love it. Still, Alan says he doesn't work as many hours as he once did. While a few races sprinkled throughout the year are run on Saturday nights, Sunday is typically race day. The team flies back after the race, meaning he gets home as early as 7 p. Mondays he gets to the shop by 8.
He generally doesn't leave work until 6 or 7 p. Thursday afternoons are typically reserved for travel to the next track. In years past, he worked Thursday mornings, but more recently he's taken those few hours off to spend time with his family or mountain bike or paddle board.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are spent at the track Yet he claims he doesn't work as many hours as he once did. Car Meeting Engaged employees have ideas.
Take away their opportunities to make suggestions, or instantly disregard their ideas without consideration, and they immediately disengage. That's why great bosses make it extremely easy for employees to offer suggestions.
They ask leading questions. They probe, but gently. They make employees feel comfortable proposing new ways to get things done. When an idea isn't feasible, they take the time to explain why; other times, they use silence as a tool to spark discussion. That's how Alan runs this meeting. These are car guys, so they talk about brakes and brake calipers.
They talk about splitter angles.
They talk about the balance between aerodynamic performance and wind shear. They also talk about the other Hendrick teams. One of the advantages of running a multi-car race team is that each car serves as both a benchmark and a test bed. The ability to share information is a huge advantage, but it also creates a problem common to complex businesses: All those factors make this a surprisingly thoughtful room, filled with relatively introverted people who spend significant time in their own heads, in a constant search for innovation.
Another surprise is the nature of conversations about other Hendrick teams. I'm accustomed to overt competition between facilities and even departments. I once worked at a dog-eat-dog plant where intra-department competition was encouraged and "winning" was a zero-sum game.
USA Track & Field - Max Siegel
Here, the spirit is collaboratively competitive. The 24 team never talks about what other teams don't do well--they talk about what other HMS teams do well that they can learn from. They want to out run their stable mates because their car is better, not because the other teams' cars are worse. Then the team's spotter, Eddie D'Hondtprovides input that can't be found on their spreadsheets. During the race, spotters assume a perch high above the track and serve as the driver's primary point of communication.
Once spotters focused primarily on safety, letting the driver know when others cars were in the driver's blind spot and alerting them to crashes. Today's spotters pass on information about other cars, suggest lines that are working for other drivers, identify rubber buildup on the track After each race, Eddie prepares reports that include his impressions, post-race video analysis, and suggestions for improvement. Today, his input is especially valuable since Chase's plane has been delayed by fog.
The group decides they had a potentially top-five and possibly even a top-three car. They feel the 48 of Jimmie Johnson was the best car, the 88 of Alex Bowman was a little better, and while the 22 was better on short runs, their car was better on long runs.
And they're probably right Fast is fast, but racing is racing. The fastest car often doesn't win. What perplexes the group is why the car performed relatively poorly near the end of the race. Hopefully, Chase can provide insight that helps them better understand why the car's performance fell off.
Pit Crew Meeting The car guys leave the room and the big boys roll in. Nascar pit crew members don't work on the cars. They aren't mechanics, they aren't engineers although some have engineering degreesthey don't work in the shop. Rowdy Harrella tire changer for the 88 team, won three National Championships as a linebacker at the University of Alabama before being recruited for the HMS pit crew development program. They have one job: In their world, a tenth of a second matters.
Math isn't my friend, but I do know that a tenth of a second lost in the pits translates to almost 30 feet on the racetrack for a car going miles per hour. Losing a half-second in the pits can mean falling from first to tenth--or worse, at super speedways like Talladega, where cars tend to circle the track almost bumper to bumper.
The meeting starts with a video review of pit stops from the Phoenix race. Each of the six pit crew members--two tire changers, two tire carriers, the jack man, and the fueler--wear helmet-mounted GoPro cameras. GoPros are also mounted on arms suspended over the pit box. Every stop is reviewed from all angles. Chris Burkeytheir pit crew coach and a former scout for the Miami Dolphins, reviews each stop from a group perspective as well individually.
But Alan also jumps in; while Chris is responsible for the crew's performance, Alan calls the "plays" on race day, deciding whether to replace two tires or four, as well as what adjustments to make to the car. That means his decisions affect the crew's individual movements and overall choreography.
Chris reviews every Phoenix pit stop, especially the final stop when a lug nut hung on a stud and the stop took at least a second longer than expected. Pitting a car comes down to human performance: Then there's the mental aspect.
Confidence is critical when you have to perform under extreme pressure. Pit crew members are mostly former college athletes accustomed to performing in critical situations in front of large crowds, but still: Spend too much time analyzing an individual's mistakes and you chip away at his or her confidence. Then again, fail to provide constructive feedback and you reduce the chance for improvement.
Alan makes a few comments, but he mostly looks to the group for input and solutions. Ultimately, they're a team, and great teammates are not just skilled at their jobs but also at making the people around them perform better. The conversation then shifts to Homestead. The pit boxes there are relatively large, which is a good thing, but the pit wall is both taller and wider, which makes jumping off to service the car more challenging.
They review video from pit stops of last year's race at Homestead and chuckle appreciatively when they remember how then-driver Jeff Gordon managed to stop the car at the same spot nearly every time. The meeting ends with a summary of what to expect in terms of race strategy for Homestead, a track where tires wear quickly and lap times steadily drop off.
Alan plans to stay "short" on fuel, meaning he'll likely pit the car to change tires long before it will need to be refueled. That, plus the likelihood of caution flags due to crashes, should result in plenty of pit stops. The crew also must be prepared to deal with damage to the right side of the car, since running inches away from the wall--which unfortunately means sometimes scraping it--is often the fastest way to circle the Homestead track.
And with that the crew heads off to the HMS athletic facilities: It's a relatively young group, less corporate but more tech-y.
As Alan leads this meeting I see his true nature emerge. In earlier meetings he was slightly more formal, constantly reading the room to manage personalities and team dynamics. This part of his job takes him back to his roots in the sport. You can tell he loves race cars. He also loves to delegate. Alan quickly moves from one bullet point to the next, listing a problem and then stating a solution. While a looser meeting, it's also an implementation meeting: But delegation is only effective after you've built a team of skilled people you can trust.
If you run a company, you don't need a director of sales; you need a person who loves helping other people sell more. You don't need an engineering manager; you need a person who loves creating new products. You don't need a supervisor of whatever; you need a person who long ago made the choice that his or her happiness comes from someone else's success and who thrives on working through other people to get important things done. You need people who want the job because they want to be responsible for making things happen.
You need people who want the job because they want to do the job; the title only makes it easier for them to do that job. That's why Alan promotes based not just on skills but also on personality, attitude, work ethic, drive, and attention to detail. Skills can be learned. The 24 team--and the Hendrick shop in general--functions as a meritocracy where people are promoted if they deserve to be promoted, regardless of seniority or conventional career path.
If you excel, there is room for you to grow. What also becomes apparent for the first time is Alan's staggering grasp of technical detail. Tolerances, sizes, dimensions, test results, past performances He would say he's not the smartest, but he is. Yet he's also comfortable in the knowledge that this group, like the others, is extremely capable, which lets him focus on coordination and collaboration. Ultimately his job, like every leader's job, is to make the most important decision: Decisiveness is a quality every good leader possesses.
The best leaders are decisive on an even higher level: They realize they sometimes are not the best person to make a particular decision, so they decide who is. Once the list is complete, a few people leave. The rest watch videos showing last year's qualifying sessions at Homestead. Some are digital composites, blending different videos to make it seem like two cars were on the track at the same time--the result shows where each car ran on the track, and which was faster or slower by comparison.
While Jeff Gordon was the driver last year, he's rarely mentioned. What he did then is interesting but irrelevant to their purposes now; they're responsible for giving the driver--whomever that might be--a fast car.
They act on the assumption that the driver did the best he could with what he was given. If he is slower than another car, it's their fault. They haven't given him the tools he needed. So, because Nascar doesn't allow comprehensive telemetry on the cars, the engineers rely on tests, practices, and race results for one set of data.
Then they run simulations to test hypotheses and generate another set of data. That means sometimes a car will be fast Other times, a setup will not work, and they can only make informed guesses as to why.
When you're dealing with fractions of an inch and fractions of degrees of angle and changing ambient temperatures and track conditions, uncertainty is a given.
That's why performance tends to run in cycles. A team's fortunes tend to ebb and flow from season to season and even within a season But that's also why an organization like HMS has been so successful over a number of years: They have more smart people working as hard, if not harder, than just about any other organization. But there's a self-imposed downside. HMS shares the results of all that effort by building engines and chassis and parts for other--competing--teams.
Want to run a Hendrick engine? You can--and it will be identical to the engines HMS teams run. Want to run a Hendrick chassis? You can--and it will be just as good as the chassis the HMS teams' cars use.
In many ways, HMS does the heavy lifting and leaves the fine-tuning to its customers--who, again, are also their competitors. You could argue that gives other teams an advantage, since they can focus their time and effort on making incremental improvements to already outstanding equipment.
Or you could argue that HMS maintains an advantage because it better understands the fundamentals of what it builds. Should you buy technology, or build it yourself? Both are viable, but building--and selling, which also means sharing--is the Hendrick way.
And you certainly can't argue with the results. Nor do you have time to argue with the results, because Chase has arrived. Driver Meeting Unlike everyone else in the room, Chase wears a flannel shirt The discussion immediately jumps back the race at Phoenix; the team is obviously eager to hear his thoughts.
Numbers are important, but only the driver can provide subjective feedback on how the car performed. Turning "feel" into practical terms is an essential skill; a driver who can't describe what the car is doing is a driver who will never reach the top level of the sport. The room goes quiet as Chase starts his debriefing. Here are my notes from what he said: Late in the run, Jimmie was mowing them down.
Entrance was good, but it seemed like he had to wait on the center and lost ground. That's why he wanted to free the car up a tad. After the first pit stop, he felt that was the best the car was all day: After 10 laps, when traffic sorted out, he could roll.
That's where the car felt like it was leaned over on the right rear and would fall on that corner and that was why he thought the right rear tire was going down. Handling just didn't have the same characteristic. It helped when they took out a round of wedge but the car still never got back to where it had been. The center suffered, the entry wasn't as secure They then discuss different lines used in the corners, as well as diving down onto the apron at Phoenix. Chase wishes he had started using the apron sooner; he was behind Kyle Larson in the 42 when he started to use that line, and the lack of clean air negatively affected his car's handling.
Chase also talks about what he saw other drivers do, especially Jimmie Johnson. Johnson and his team are the gold standard, the six-time champions soon to be sevena natural benchmark. Still, having a superstar as a colleague is both blessing and curse: You're in a great position to learn from the other team's success Speaking of comparisons, at this point I realize I've seen Alan use at least four different communication styles.
Great leaders change their communication style to suit the needs of different audiences. In the manager's meeting, Alan was in "peer" mode, always collaborative and never authoritative. During the whole-shop meeting he was in "teambuilding" mode: During the car and engineering meetings, he shifted to "CEO" mode: He's direct, but with a light touch. With Chase, his touch is even lighter, like a coach working with a relatively inexperienced Chase is only 21 years old yet hugely talented athlete.
He and Chase work so closely together--and must trust each other to such an exceptional degree--that maintaining a good relationship is paramount. Chase asks what they might have done to make the car even better during his best run.
Alan asks questions about brake settings seemed fineabout brake chatter there was nonehow Chase felt the car responded to some of the changes they made during pit stops no real improvementhow only changing two tires impacted the car's balance negativelyhow the car felt on restarts fineissues with the sun it's always hard to see at Phoenix when the sun is low on the horizon, but this race was no worse than usual.
None of the questions are judgmental or critical. Alan wants Chase to feel comfortable raising any problems, issues, or concerns he may have. During a race, Chase literally has his hands full, so relatively little information can be exchanged. The first half of this meeting is the entire team's only real chance to take a detailed look, as a group, at the past race to decide what to do differently in the future.
Ultimately, Chase is confused and frustrated by how the car fell off. He feels good about how they dug themselves out of a hole and put themselves back into position near the end of the race. In a sport with an infinite number of variables, hindsight will always be a combination of accuracy and speculation. They then replay the Homestead qualifying videos as well as last year's TV feed from the final round of qualifying.
The focus is on possible lane choices for qualifying, because those decisions will affect how the car is set up for qualifying. Chase would like to run close to the bottom in Turns 1 and 2. Alan floats the idea of using different lines for different stages of qualifying. Chase wonders if they should run a little higher in the first two rounds and then on the bottom for the last round; that way he can minimize wear and save the tires for the final round, when he needs grip the most.
Before Chase arrived, Alan had decided that approach made the most sense. Yet he didn't say so; he talked about possibilities, asked questions, let Chase watch the videos A good leader lets other people have the ideas, even though the outcome was what he or she intended all along. Alan could have simply dictated, but by letting Chase be part of the process, his buy-in is greater. Plus, as Alan says later, you also never know: Chase is a smart driver who may have come up with an even better plan.
Dictate, and you lose the chance to find a better way than your own.