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Board questions - Nathan Gardiner specific thread


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If you want to comment on, criticize, spitball, or give props on any of my answers to the questions from the other thread, you can do so here without bogging down that thread. Copying answers below:

 

Nathan Gardiner answers to compiled questions:

 

1.  As a possible new board member, what are your thoughts on how to attract new teams to CCES?

 

It’s far cheaper to retain current members than attract new ones, so that should be priority #1. Beyond that, the easiest market to attract is people who already have race cars, and the best transfer market is Lemons. Create a Lemons exemption or a Lemons Class (L) allowing any team with an active Lemons logbook to race (cars must have fewer than X penalty laps in Lemons or something, I don’t know the Lemons rules well). Address the 22 gallon fuel cell issue by requiring any stint greater than say 60 minutes to be followed by a fuel stop (very easy to police in the timing and scoring booth). The point would be: race with us, minimal barrier to entry, come have fun.

 

2.  Do any of you have business leading backgrounds?  Who here has experience dealing with banks, accountants, corporate insurance brokers, attorneys, etc?

 

No

 

3.  What are your thoughts on West Coast expansion?  Should CCES continue to try to reach that market?  If so, why?

 

My Lemons class in question 1 would be a great in-road to the west coast.

 

4.  You're signing on for a 3 year term.  What do you hope to accomplish in the 3 years to further the BUSINESS of CCES, not the rulebook?

 

Vague business goal: increase event turnout in all regions.

 

5.  It's my belief that the Board has been weighed down by its own desire to keep its hands in the rule book.  Do you think it’s time for the Board to have oversight controls only?

 

No. Many rulebook changes have a direct impact on attracting or driving away members. The Board is the only elected body.

 

6. How do you feel about fuel for points? ie are you interested in seeing serious options (including status quo) and recommendations from the TAC? 

 

No, too difficult to balance. I think if you add this, low VPI unicorns will come popping out of the woodwork because a “good price” for fuel for a 400 point car would be a STEAL for a 100 point car.

 

7. Are you motivated to find a solution for the abuse of multiple sets of soft/fast tires in a race?

 

Desire to find a solution is popular among membership, and therefore should be considered by elected board members. I publicly supported a version of a 1 tire-per-stop idea in the last round of petitions.

 

8. Are you for the consistent [and transparent] application of criteria to determine swap weights?

 

To be honest I support (and have supported since the inception of the swap formula) a separate “swap VPI table” which would have lines for chassis + engine just like the current VPI table, except that the listed engines wouldn’t be stock offerings. I proposed this to Mike back at the start and he said it would be too much work. I disagreed that it would be more work then, and I STRONGLY believe that the endless fudging of weights and resulting bickering about the calculator has long since exceeded the work required for a Swap VPI table and subsequent maintenance.

The VPIs are subjective, the post-swap VPIs should also be subjective.

Advantages of a subjective swap table: 

- Engine torque and weight can be considered. The current formula only considers HP.

- Engines which are better than their rated power indicates will be more fairly valued (certain underrated V8s / turbos / etc.)

- Changes can be made to a specific swap combination without blowing up other engine swaps on the same platform

 

But to answer the actual question, yes the application of criteria should be consistent and transparent while we are constrained to the current formula. The bull cookies of the stealth e30 weight change and months of cover up by management was insulting and wrong to say the least.

 

9. What are the views of those running on what the long term goals of the club are or should be?

 

Maintain ChampCar as the premier budget endurance racing series. Large fields are a critical part of fun racing and ‘staying in the black’, so ChampCar needs to increase field size without sacrificing the diversity, quality of racing, and affordability.

  

10. How could the club leadership improve communication and involvement of the membership?

 

Designated board spokesperson to be the official voice of the board on the forum. Explaining how and why certain decisions were made. We get a lot of posts from board members, which is great, but often these posts contain board decisions mixed with personal opinions and it can be a bit murky. Also a monthly email blast “what is the Board doing for you?”

Edited by enginerd
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1 hour ago, enginerd said:

If you want to comment on, criticize, spitball, or give props on any of my answers to the questions from the other thread, you can do so here without bogging down that thread. Copying answers below:

 

7. Are you motivated to find a solution for the abuse of multiple sets of soft/fast tires in a race?

 

Desire to find a solution is popular among membership, and therefore should be considered by elected board members. I publicly supported a version of a 1 tire-per-stop idea in the last round of petitions.

Since you asked...

I'll just point out that none of the myriad tire-related petitions were anywhere near popular among the 51 people who actually voted. In fact, at least ~75% or more voted against every one. 

 

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37 minutes ago, Snorman said:

Since you asked...

I'll just point out that none of the myriad tire-related petitions were anywhere near popular among the 51 people who actually voted. In fact, at least ~75% or more voted against every one. 

Thank you for correctly using myriad!

 

On topic, I have been lead to believe that a majority of people want something changed, but don’t agree on exactly which change is best. And that a majority would support something done versus nothing, even if the specific change isn’t their favorite. This is certainly possible and wouldn’t be at odds with the numbers you posted. Whether this is true or not would have to be determined before making any changes, I would not want to push changes which are not supported by the vast majority of membership.

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13 minutes ago, wvumtnbkr said:

 

How do you feel about electronic surveys in regards to champcar?

I don’t have expertise in that area. How effective are surveys? Self report bias? Reach? Will responses accurately correlate with actions? (ie: would you come back if XYZ? And then follow up to see if they actually came back after responding yes) etc. etc. 

 

Surveys sound good in my head but I know where I know things and where I don’t. And I know enough about surveys to know that I don’t know much about surveys. Would defer to someone with survey knowledge & experience to decide if it’s worthwhile and how one would be implemented. 

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3 hours ago, enginerd said:

1.  As a possible new board member, what are your thoughts on how to attract new teams to CCES?

 

It’s far cheaper to retain current members than attract new ones, so that should be priority #1. Beyond that, the easiest market to attract is people who already have race cars, and the best transfer market is Lemons. Create a Lemons exemption or a Lemons Class (L) allowing any team with an active Lemons logbook to race (cars must have fewer than X penalty laps in Lemons or something, I don’t know the Lemons rules well). Address the 22 gallon fuel cell issue by requiring any stint greater than say 60 minutes to be followed by a fuel stop (very easy to police in the timing and scoring booth). The point would be: race with us, minimal barrier to entry, come have fun.

 

 

Uhhhh, what?

 

If you are going to cut the stint length special for them I hope you are also thinking of cutting the entry fee by 80% for what would amount to strictly a test day.  Otherwise it is like F1 calling up Indy to come to a few races to help finance the series, but to make sure you don't win or even compete you have to use all three slicks plus both wets even if it is dry.  That way F1 can claim their winner beat 56 other cars instead of only 19 and their drivers are the best as there is "no classing".

 

At full fee it is so insulting that if Champcar were to do another race at Calgary Race City, if it still existed, I wouldn't even drive across town because an actual test day is so much cheaper.

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12 minutes ago, Ron_e said:

 

Uhhhh, what?

 

If you are going to cut the stint length special for them I hope you are also thinking of cutting the entry fee by 80% for what would amount to strictly a test day. 

Reread the post. Stint length would still be 2 hours, just like everyone else. The special condition is that they MUST do a fuel stop (5minutes) if their stint exceeds 60 minutes. I assume they will go a full 2 hours with 22 gallon fuel cells. All this does is negate the huge advantage that a 22 gallon miata would have in going 3.5-4 hours on a tank of fuel.

 

The heart of this proposal is the idea that a lemons car isn't going to run away with a champcar race even if gifted full 2 hour stints. (subject to review by experts on lemons rules and teams. I am not an expert but from my limited knowledge I think it's a good way to get lemons teams out to a champcar race to see how great the racing is)

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Same difference.  Invite me to your house but tell me I can't sit on the furniture.  There are legal Champcars that can go 3+ hours but you don't make the same rule for them.

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15 hours ago, Ron_e said:

Same difference.  Invite me to your house but tell me I can't sit on the furniture.  There are legal Champcars that can go 3+ hours but you don't make the same rule for them.


I agree with Ron_e on this.  Allowing them to come in and play by a different rulebook should not be allowed.  If they have excess fuel to start the race it can have an affect at the end of the race that gives them an advantage over CCES legal cars.  It's allowing them to have a reserve capacity.

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16 hours ago, enginerd said:

The heart of this proposal is the idea that a lemons car isn't going to run away with a champcar race even if gifted full 2 hour stints. 


Lemons cars can be built MUCH faster than a Champcar. There are no performance limiting rules at all in Lemons. I could build a lemons car 10 seconds a lap faster than a Champcar. 

An example of a car that exists currently in the Midwest and occasionally runs ChampCar,  that is also better than most ChampCars is the Lemonaid E30. It has an M54B30 and 22 gallons of fuel. 

That is not an extreme build at all, you could really build some brutally fast cars under the Lemons rule set. 
 

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14 minutes ago, Andrew D Johnson said:

Lemons cars can be built MUCH faster than a Champcar. There are no performance limiting rules at all in Lemons. I could build a lemons car 10 seconds a lap faster than a Champcar. 

An example of a car that exists currently in the Midwest and occasionally runs ChampCar,  that is also better than most ChampCars is the Lemonaid E30. It has an M54B30 and 22 gallons of fuel. 

That is not an extreme build at all, you could really build some brutally fast cars under the Lemons rule set. 

Just because it could be done doesn't mean that it is being done. The last time I checked lap times for Lemons they weren't on par with ChampCar times. If that isn't the case anymore and a Lemons car would come wipe the floor with us in a ChampCar event, then the idea wouldn't work. The idea was: 1) easy crossover 2) greater reach in west coast 3) they won't be beating the top established ChampCars. If any of those conditions aren't true, then the idea won't work or needs revision.

I have no doubt that you could build a car to Lemons rules that would be faster than your current ChampCar, but I see that you race ChampCar, not lemons.

I know that Lemons can give out penalty laps to fast cars, perhaps this crossover would only be valid for zero lap ABC lemons cars (as stated in the original post).

 

I raced against that lemonaid e30 and it's a fantastic car. Perhaps a good enough example to sink the idea.

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As a former Lemons team with connections to plenty who still race there regularly, EC works just fine for attracting the Champcar curious.

 

I'll also take the position that there is no workable solution to handicapping the entire universe of Lemons cars to put them on roughly equal footing with the existing Champcar field so they can all compete for the same trophies - Lemons builds are simply too diverse.

 

If a Lemons team tests the waters in EC and decides they want to run the same race as the rest of us badly enough, they will do the work to get the car to 500 points. It's just that some of those cars will require a lot more work than others.

 

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1 hour ago, gavro said:

As a former Lemons team with connections to plenty who still race there regularly, EC works just fine for attracting the Champcar curious.

 

I'll also take the position that there is no workable solution to handicapping the entire universe of Lemons cars to put them on roughly equal footing with the existing Champcar field so they can all compete for the same trophies - Lemons builds are simply too diverse.

 

If a Lemons team tests the waters in EC and decides they want to run the same race as the rest of us badly enough, they will do the work to get the car to 500 points. It's just that some of those cars will require a lot more work than others.

 

Thanks for the input! This is great to know.

 

The idea was not “equal footing” it was to attract teams in a way that would be more enticing than EC
 

Again, thanks for the input as an actual lemons crossover team.

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@riche30 asked in another thread and I'll answer it here in keeping with the theme of organizing my responses in one location and not cluttering other threads:

In the event Frank and Enginerd were voted to the board we would have 5 of 7 sitting board members tied to the BMW E30 chassis.  What are your thoughts on removing any potential bias when it comes to rules that may heavily affect that specific chassis?  

 

I won't speak to bias in general or about anyone other than myself other than a quick statement of "bias is bad, we should work to prevent bias from affecting Board decisions, yadda yadda yadda, generic political response continues.... "

 

Ok now on to stuff about me. This will be more of a spewing of thoughts, less of a polished statement because, frankly, who  has time for that? I have a baby bottle in one hand and I'm typing with the other.

 

A wise half Vulcan once said "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". I won't insult your intelligence by explaining how this relates to the question at hand. I firmly agree with this stance.

 

I have found at discrete events throughout my life that I don't experience or act on bias like my peers do. In sports I have many times found myself say "oh... looked like the correct call to me..." as my teammates jump off the bench shouting at the ref. Have argued with teammates in racing many times over similar instances "teammate: they made that call to f*&^ us! Go talk to race control to get our lap back this is bull!!  Me: Calm down [redacted], it was a legit PUY"

 

I've had much more fun from hard fought 2nd places than I have had from a couple of our wins. To me, competition is fun, winning, in and of itself, is not. Building in an advantage through the rulebook wouldn't even lead to the most enjoyable outcome for me.

 

Should I get on the board I will not recuse myself from votes affecting my car. I don't experience or act on bias in my personal life and I have no need to shield board of directors decisions from personal bias either.

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@Rapido Regarding the sim series

 

I LOVE what has been done with the ChampCar sim series. Thought the idea was great in the beginning and came very close to buying a sim rig when my better half reminded me that I already don't have enough time to adequately prep the real race car! 

Doc did a great job with that series. Great job promoting it during the actual race live broadcasts, and that has been certainly been missed this year :(

 

As far as what should be done or changed or improved (I can't remember if you asked that), I don't know enough about it to know. Would defer to those most familiar with the series as to what direction we should go and if any changes should be made to improve it. You guys certainly are the experts and I would be talking out my rear if I started thinking of suggestions. From the outside it appears to be a pretty low budget way to get publicity and organic growth. And if nothing else it provides another avenue for members to be 'engaged' in the series even when not at the track.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Nathan,

 

My ChampCar experience since 2018 has been alarming speed increase.  I am not certain if this is happening at all tracks, but it is clear at my home track of Nelson Ledges.  In 2018 our fast lap of the day was about .1 faster than average of the fast lap of the top 10 cars.  In 2019 we were just a bit faster but about .1 slower than average of the fast lap of the top 10 cars.  In 2021 we were just a bit slower than past, but our fast time from 2019 is now 3.5 seconds per lap slower than the average of fast lap of the top 10 cars.  We went from podium car in 2018, to backmarker in 2021.  This is alarming to me.  There are any number of reasons, but the bottom line is if I want to maintain competitiveness I've got to invest a lot of time and money to upgrade my car or build something faster. 

 

I can only speculate the reasons for this.  I suspect this could be byproduct of more free parts, of more money coming in as teams can afford to engineer faster cars to attract rental drivers, and lowering VPIs.

 

My questions to you are do you see the same thing in your experience, are you concerned this is going to affect the league, and if so do you have any ideas on how to address it?

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21 hours ago, mostmint said:

Hi Nathan,

 

My ChampCar experience since 2018 has been alarming speed increase.  I am not certain if this is happening at all tracks, but it is clear at my home track of Nelson Ledges.  In 2018 our fast lap of the day was about .1 faster than average of the fast lap of the top 10 cars.  In 2019 we were just a bit faster but about .1 slower than average of the fast lap of the top 10 cars.  In 2021 we were just a bit slower than past, but our fast time from 2019 is now 3.5 seconds per lap slower than the average of fast lap of the top 10 cars.  We went from podium car in 2018, to backmarker in 2021.  This is alarming to me.  There are any number of reasons, but the bottom line is if I want to maintain competitiveness I've got to invest a lot of time and money to upgrade my car or build something faster. 

 

I can only speculate the reasons for this.  I suspect this could be byproduct of more free parts, of more money coming in as teams can afford to engineer faster cars to attract rental drivers, and lowering VPIs.

 

My questions to you are do you see the same thing in your experience, are you concerned this is going to affect the league, and if so do you have any ideas on how to address it?

I am crafting a response, your question has not been ignored!

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Just to make it more complex, if Champcar had initiated a three year rule freeze, would that amount of speed creeep have occurred?

 

In other words, how much can be attributed to car and driver development, and how much to rule changes?

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4 minutes ago, mender said:

Just to make it more complex, if Champcar had initiated a three year rule freeze, would that amount of speed creeep have occurred?

 

In other words, how much can be attributed to car and driver development, and how much to rule changes?

Fair question.  Nothing close to this rate happened from 2011 to 2018.  From 2013 to 2018 there is about a 3 second improvement but there was a major repave of the track in 2017.  Also my data points are only for one track.  Anecdotally I have seen significant improvement in lap times at Gingerman and Mid Ohio as well.  Does not answer your question. 

 

I like ChampCar but I am not going to develop 1.5 seconds of improved lap times every year to keep up. 

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On 11/19/2021 at 9:39 PM, mostmint said:

Hi Nathan,

 

My ChampCar experience since 2018 has been alarming speed increase.  I am not certain if this is happening at all tracks, but it is clear at my home track of Nelson Ledges.  In 2018 our fast lap of the day was about .1 faster than average of the fast lap of the top 10 cars.  In 2019 we were just a bit faster but about .1 slower than average of the fast lap of the top 10 cars.  In 2021 we were just a bit slower than past, but our fast time from 2019 is now 3.5 seconds per lap slower than the average of fast lap of the top 10 cars.  We went from podium car in 2018, to backmarker in 2021.  This is alarming to me.  There are any number of reasons, but the bottom line is if I want to maintain competitiveness I've got to invest a lot of time and money to upgrade my car or build something faster. 

 

I can only speculate the reasons for this.  I suspect this could be byproduct of more free parts, of more money coming in as teams can afford to engineer faster cars to attract rental drivers, and lowering VPIs.

 

My questions to you are do you see the same thing in your experience, are you concerned this is going to affect the league, and if so do you have any ideas on how to address it?

I'm having trouble crafting a coherent flowing response, so I'm going to bullet point this post with thoughts.

- I'm curious to know if the top 10 from 2021 was composed of some of the same teams as 2018 / 2019. Same teams => lots of improvement maybe a sign of free parts. Different teams => maybe the lap time improvement has more to do with which teams showed up and had those teams showed in 2019, you would not have seen the 3.5 second jump. How strong a field is varies greatly from one race to the next... the April road America race was stacked, October, not so much. We took a win in October with lap times that would have seen us struggling for top 5 in April.

- Visceral brought two cars this year and they were bonkers fast. I'm still trying to figure out how they went so fast and so long on fuel. Maybe they didn't race Nelson in 2018/2019.

- The lack of improvement you saw from 2018 to 2021 is something to look at. I consider a small improvement year over year to be par for the course. If your car is stagnant perhaps it is a sign that you have maxed it out and since you are now falling behind, a lower VPI is needed or it's a sign that rule changes benefitted others more than you. Or it's a sign that you aren't acting on the rule changes which could give you more speed. Or you aren't making tweaks and improvements unrelated to rule changes. Can't expect to run at the front if you bring an identical car year after year (unless it was perfect and optimized years ago).

- I don't like the idea of making a change that allows everyone to get faster. One might say "well, everyone has the option to do that now", while true, now everyone has to go spend money and time on that thing. It's better to just not make said change.

- Speed creep in and of itself is not really a bad thing... it's fun and rewarding to go faster than the last year. It becomes bad when it causes a balance issue. You probably wouldn't have made this post if your car also got 3.5 seconds faster through magic, but because the others did and you didn't, it is revealing a problem. 

- 3.5 seconds (or 2 seconds per year) is pretty big, big enough to raise eyebrows and take a look to see why and if changes in the years prior shouldn't have been made.

- If speed creep is the result of new cars being added to VPI list which go right to the front, that is bad (I'm thinking Boxster here). I have seen comments: "but we have to add new cars or the series dies". Ok you may have a point there. Please add them at a VPI which doesn't make the old cars obsolete.

 

14 hours ago, mender said:

Just to make it more complex, if Champcar had initiated a three year rule freeze, would that amount of speed creep have occurred?

 

In other words, how much can be attributed to car and driver development, and how much to rule changes?

- Which changes are you talking about? I can't remember what changed each year. I'm disappointed if my car doesn't see a 1 second improvement from the previous year due to setup fine tuning and driving improvement. Obviously this will plateau at some point, and for some teams it will plateau sooner than others. I tend to have a slow optimization rate.

- Personal lap times, at Road America, same car, me driving: 2015: 2:59 2016: 2:57 2017: 2:57 2018: 2:53 2019: 2:53 2021: 2:49 2021: 2:49

Most of that is driver improvement and some setup improvement. 2017 to 2018 saw a complete engine rebuild and free ECU which gave us 5 hp and a higher redline. The 2021 car got the engine swap but the lap time improvement is somewhat offset by a shorter fuel stint. It was after two years capped at 2:53 (and really flogging the car at my personal skill limits) that we decided to make a big change because we were starting to fall behind the competition and didn't see a different route to more speed.

- Meanwhile, at Autobahn Country Club: 2014: 1:51 2017: 1:41 2021: 1:39

2014 Autobahn was our first race ever ever. Only saw 2 seconds improvement between 2017 and 2021. I hope it's that the track itself is slower now because that's embarrassing.

- We swapped 1.5 years after a swap rule change because the rule had been stable long enough.

- Tough question, your guess is as good as mine.

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Yes Visceral was there in 2018 and much faster it wasn’t until they went off at dawn and damaged the car that we caught them.  
 

I am certainly not expecting to be at the front if I’m not improving the car but the move from near front to the back was alarmingly fast.  at this rate I’ll be a rolling chicane in two more years.  I want to do some research on cost of parts point wise and VPI but won’t be done before the board votes.  I know the average age of the cars has only moved up less than two years since the early events so not likely a big influx of newer models. 
 

also FWIW our TCV has plenty of room to add stuff I’m just not confident the platform I’m on can handle 50 more horsepower and 20% wider tires.  And it’s not just the running cost but I have to start over with my engine/transmission program and all the stuff I have now is obsolete.  That will not be cheap.  Also there is a question of how fast do I want to go.  

 

so many racing series have the constant pressure to build a faster car for next year.  Until this year I hadn’t noticed this one is turning into that as well - and I don’t think that is a hospitable place for beginners which is what I thought this league was about.

 

thanks for taking time to reply.  
 

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Yeah, everybody is getting much faster.

However,  I'm not sure there is anything implied about rookie stuff in this series. 

 

You are allowed to do pretty much what you want with the racecar,  and even pro teams are building and racing in champcar. 

 

I appreciate your point,  however,  I gotta know if you are doing testing and data acquisition?  If not, that has been the biggest change to our speed.

 

We are not any faster really for fast lap, but stint times overall are much faster.

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3 hours ago, mostmint said:

so many racing series have the constant pressure to build a faster car for next year.  Until this year I hadn’t noticed this one is turning into that as well - and I don’t think that is a hospitable place for beginners which is what I thought this league was about.

For a while I have thought that ChampCar should give out a rookie trophy at each race and tag (R) on live timing on any team who has fewer than, say, 3 races (TBD, open to discussion) with ChampCar.

 

Some of the class restructuring ideas which have surfaced in the last few years seem to be round about ways to 'give something for new teams to shoot for'. A rookie tag and trophy like this is a much more logical and direct way to cater to new teams.

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