Control line Team Race is flown all around the world. There are many different classes with lots of different rules. However the basic premise is mostly the same… complete a set number of laps in the fastest possible time. The exception is Rat Racing where the most laps in a given time determines a winner.
Team racing began with the F.A.S.T. club in California in 1948. Sixty years on, it continues to excite participants with the thrill of fast and close racing, mostly with three models flying against each other in the same circle. Line length is generally from around 15 to 18 metres, measured from the centre of the model to the face of the handle grip.
Models can fly at well over 160 kph, with the faster racers exceeding 200 kph. Open Rat Race models have been known to better 260 kph. Piloting at those speeds is a real challenge! The Vintage and Classic events are flown over mown grass whereas the others are mostly flown over a hard surface.
A team consists of a pilot who flies the model from the centre of the circle and a mechanic who stays on the outside in his pit segment. It is the mechanics job to perform the initial start and then on landing, catch the model by the wing, refuel and restart during the race. These are called pitstops. The pilot must land the model in his allocated segment at a speed it can be comfortably caught by the mechanic. These skills can only be perfected with lots of practice.
Each team is assigned a time keeper by the Contest Director. Using a hand counter, the time keeper presses once for each lap, stopping the watch only when the team has completed the set number of laps. The teams time is then entered into the C.D.’s logbook.
The most prestigious form of team racing is called F2C. It is sanctioned by the FAI, the governing body for world aeromodelling. It is our equivalent of Formula 1 motor racing. The flying wing style racers are powered by highly tuned diesel engines of 2.5cc capacity that are capable of exceeding 25,000 rpm. Fuel used is 55% kerosene, 35% ether and 10% castor oil plus ignition additives of around 1.5%. There are club, inter club, state, national and world championships for this extremely competitive, very technical and demanding sporting event.
Not so difficult are the very popular Vintage and Classic team race events. Speeds are a little slower so it is a lot easier to control the models. Vintage A, particularly in B Grade as they run in NSW, is an excellent place to learn how to race with control line. In Victoria we have ‘OZ A’ or ‘Australian A’ which is an ideal place for newcomers to begin to get involved in team racing.
Apart from these, semi scale classes such as Mini Goodyear, Goodyear and Bendix have a dedicated following. These are profile fuselage models designed to be semi scale replicas of the famous full size American trophy racing aircraft.
With the exception of F2C racers that can be sourced complete from places in Europe and Russia, most racing models are built and developed by the teams themselves. Models can take months to build as these model aircraft must be very carefully constructed to have race winning performance.
Summing up, control line team racing is a highly challenging and rewarding pastime that can provide a huge amount of enjoyment and satisfaction to those who participate.