All about Team Racing for model aircraft in Australia; the original racing classes developed for control line model aircraft.
Race three or four models simultaneously in one circle, limit the size of their fueltanks to force refuelling stops during the race, and the result is a Teamrace. Each team consists of a pilot and a mechanic, often assisted in the past by a third team member to carry the heavy battery used for starting glowplug engines. The main difference between Teamracing and the later invented but similar racing variants Rat Racing and Goodyear is the limited size of teamracing fuel tanks. This led to considerable efforts to extract fuel economy as well as speed from teamracers, as better fuel economy could mean fewer refuelling stops during a race. Teamracers were also intended to have engines cowled and to look like full sized aeroplanes.
1. Winner of several Victorian races in 1963 was Athol Holtham's attractive class 2 teamracer, Galaxie.
2. The pretty class 3 teamracer of Western Australian Geoff Barnes, being admired by a group of racing enthusiasts at the Strathalbyn nationals, held over the Christmas/NewYear holiday of 1963/64. That's Geoff at far right.
3. The famous South Australian racing team Norm Moore (left) and Kevin Green, winners of the Advertiser trophy at the Strathalbyn Nats. The Advertiser trophy was donated by Adelaide's Advertiser newspaper for a feature race between the fastest qualifiers from each Australian State in class 2 teamracing at the Nationals.
4. Favouritism gradually shifted from class 2 teamracing to the international FAI class after it replaced class 1 in Australia. This example is your webmaster's winner of the FAI race at the Geelong Nats, held over the Christmas / NewYear holiday of 1972/73.
5. Seen here with all his teamracing battlegear is Ron Wilson, popular Victorian competitor in all classes of control line racing for many years. Evident are some of the technical refinements that evolved during the nineteen seventies: a pressurized refuelling system strapped to Ron's arm replaces the squeeze bottles used earlier. Control lines are permanently attached to eliminate drag from connecting clips.
6. Hutton Oddy teamed up with Julius Reichart was one of the few Australians to really make an impression in the international class of FAI team racing as well as dominating this event in Australia for many years. Pictured here is his model at the European Champs at Verviers in 1977. The model is the same as that Hutton andJulius used at the 1977 TransTasman in Amberley. The hands belong to Jim Woodside who was proxy pitting at Verviers on behalf of Julius. This was Hutton's first real international level champs, resulting in a finish in the top 10 with a best time of 4.12.8. Motor is Bugl Mk 11 with an aluminium contrapiston head set up. The Brits thought that strange because they argued that it would cool the motor too much, indicating that they had never raced at an Australian Nationals in mid summer.
7. David Smith pitting the model Hutton Oddy flew at the 1986 world champs in Pecs (Hungary). Motor this time was a Cipolla, and the flying wing style of model is evident. This model did 3.41.9 to be the fastest of the Aussies, and contributed to the 3rd place Australian team prize.
8. Almost without exception FAI racers had evolved into a flying wing configuration by 2002, when this picture of Paul Stein and Graeme Wilson was taken with their South Australian State Champs winner.
9. World Champions in FAI team racing, Australians Hugh Simons and Grant Potter displaying their prize on the dias at Landres, France in August of 2008. The pair had actually won the final twice to get here; they won the first final flown, then won the re-fly that was ordered because of a mishap that occurred between the two other finalist teams. In winning the re-fly Hugh and Grant established a new world record for this event, 6minutes 13.2seconds.
Hugh and Grant used unmodified Lerner engines in Bondarenko retract models.
10. World Champions in FAI team racing in 2010, Australians Mark Ellins ) (left) and Rob Fitzgerald (right) with their prize on the dias at Gyula, Hungary in July of 2010. The pair set a very fast time during the heats but had a torrid time during the semi-finals, with a disqualification at their first attempt. They were well ahead of defending champions Simons/Potter who were not on their best form for this meeting.
Winners are grinners!
Three classes of teamracing were originally specified by the rules, catering for different ranges of engine sizes, parallelling the pure speed model classes. First casualty was the Class 3 racer for engines up to 10cc, which simply faded from the scene for lack of popularity. The 2.5cc Class 1 was superseded by the International FAI 2.5cc class, which actually called for a bigger model than the Australian 5cc Class 2. A half-A class for 1.5cc engines too was established later, but never became particularly popular.
In the early days of teamracing in Australia pilots were required to walk around a 44 gallon drum placed in the centre of the flying circle, supposedly to achieve fair racing. But in Class 2 pilots had difficulty keeping up with their fast models, resulting in frequent line tangles and subsequent crashes. Your webmaster well remembers the lines of one racer being cut clean through in one such mishap at Albert Park, causing the model to go free flight until it splashed into the Lake at 100 mph.
Charlie Stone from West Australia recalls: "On one occasion at the start of a race, one of the entries did a mighty wingover from take off, crashing on the other side of the circle while the other 3 of us were in the air racing. The resulting line tangle was a disaster. I was bound at ankle height with C/L wire around my ankles and around the drum that finally stopped me from moving. I was clinging to the rim of the drum to stop myself from falling over. The wires cut through one of my socks and cut deeply into my leg. Len Armour, who had been flying Noel Mitchell's racer, took the handle from me and as our plane was the last in the air, flew it until he too was tied up and then flew it through huge loops until the fuel ran out. The drum was rather a nuisance at times."
After the drum was eliminated things became easier on the pilots, but they were always under scrutiny for whipping which was prohibited by teamracing rules. A pilot capable of providing a little assistance to his plane made a noticable difference to its performance, and physically tall pilots were at an advantage in the battle for dominance at centre circle.Roger Wise provides an interesting account of his assault on an early nineteen sixties Victorian State Champs Class 2 teamrace on this page.
Efforts to improve fuel economy from the glowplug engines used in Class 2 frequently centred around fuel technology, replacing some of the usual basic ingredient (methanol) with something like petrol, benzene, or toluol. Around 10% nitro methane was commonly used also, to improve speed, flexibility, and easy starting.
A different approach to fuel economy was more successful in the 2.5cc (FAI) class: use of diesel engines. With engines of this size a diesel is manageable, burns an inherently economical fuel, and restarts readily when hot. For many years mass produced racing diesels could be purchased inexpensively, and were capable of winning races before technology developed to the point where specialist hand-built engines, pressurized refueling systems, and engine cutoff systems became the norm.
Teamracing provides an ideal opportunity for a good pilot to team up with someone more capable of technical development. Considered by many to be the classic control line racing event, it underwent a colourful evolution, and still survives in the twenty first century as a world championship class, and through vintage and classic nostalgia events.
As Australia entered the twenty first century two teamrace nostalgia classes had risen to prominence, being frequently conducted at state championships and national competitions. These two classes are Vintage A and Classic B, examples of which are illustrated on our Classic/Vintage Teamracer Replicas page. By the end of 2008, Classic FAI teamracing was being promoted in Australia.
Vintage A is an event re-creating pre-1957 Class A Teamracing. The race is for model designs published up to December 1957 or commercial kits complying with the 1957 rules.
Classic B is an event for "model designs that can be documented to have been designed, constructed and actually flown in competition prior to January 1, 1966" say the rules for 2000 onwards, which then go on to exclude some of the very best of such racers with restrictions on features that were in common use before 1966. No metal engine mounting pans are permitted. Monowheel is disallowed. Nevertheless, there is a greater variety of eligible model designs to choose from than is available in Vintage A. See some of them on John Hallowell's Classic B promotion page.
Australian Classic FAI is intended to re-create FAI team racing as it was before 1970, when in the eyes of many people, models were more beautiful, less expensive, and flew over grass at speeds most people can cope with.
Other teamrace nostalgia classes are possible. Who is going to be first to promote noise reduction for the 5cc class, as the VMAA did as early as 1965 when it required silencers to be fitted to Class 2 teamracers at its State Championships? Will anyone attempt to resurrect the big C class, perhaps powered by smaller engines?
See Racing Page 2 for Rat Racing, Goodyear and Bendix