Club 2000? Beginners Guide To Getting You Racing

Let's Go Racing (On a Budget)
By Stuart Mc Farlane

Identify your models please. What frequency are you on? Switch on and check your radios. Is everyone happy? You have one minute to start and set up your engines, if you have all started we will start the race early. There then follows some frantic flicking of propellers, although some use electric starters, an en masse hand launch of up to four models which then proceed down to number one pylon whereupon four callers shout turn!! The race is on and the screaming of the little .25 engines and the shouts of "turn" continues for a total of ten laps of the race course before peace and tranquillity are restored again. The whole process, from launch to finish, having taken less than 90 seconds. This is the world of the Club 2000 pylon racer.

Pylon Racing CourseWhat is Pylon Racing?
Apart from being an enjoyable way of spending a Sunday, pylon racing is the modelling version of full size, closed circuit, air racing. Up to 4 models fly ten laps of a triangular course. Depending on the class that is raced, the course will be a length of 400 mtrs for F3D, Sport 40 and Club 40 or 880ft for Club 2000.

In The Beginning
Many years ago, during the mid 70's when I was but a lad, I remember the introduction of Club 20 pylon racing. The idea was to introduce model flyers to the thrills and spills of racing without breaking the bank. The models were simple affairs built to a set of rules and powered by a budget .20 sized engine. All was well until the competitive edge took over, exotic and expensive engines were introduced in to the class that led to increased speeds which in turn led to more sophisticated airframes. The vicious circle of the quest for performance had started and it wasn't long until these little models were turning in an average speed of well over 100mph for the course. Not surprisingly the class took a nosedive and people left the class put off by the rising costs. No newcomers joined the class as they too were put off by the expense and the frightening performance of the models.

And Then...
After 20 something years it was decided that if a cheap form racing was to continue then radical changes had to be made and it was during the closed season of 1999 that the experts got their heads together and the Club 2000 class was born. Out went exotic materials, out went expensive engines and in came a sensible class, with easy to build airframes, to be powered by inexpensive .25 sized engines. This time round there was an air of determination that flying skill and not bank balance would rule the day.

Let's Find Out More
I enjoy various forms of racing and have always had a desire to go pylon racing but circumstances had perpetually contrived to prevent me doing so. That was until 2002. Having come back to the hobby after a fifteen year absence I had already decided that an attempt at racing was on the cards, problem was what class? In an attempt to find out I attended a meeting at RAF Cottesmore where I observed three classes of racing, F3D, Sport .40 and Quickie 500. F3D was like formula 1 car racing and it would have been foolhardy to have attempted this class. Sport .40 also looked very impressive and not too far behind F3D. The Quickie 500 class boasted only two entries, which crashed into each other in a spectacular mid air.

The one thing that stood out at this meeting was the high level of noise which meant that any practicing, which I felt would be essential to guarantee any sort of success, would be confined to organised practice days and race meetings. In this day and age none of these models would be made welcome at your local flying field. November 2002 saw me arrive at a Club 2000 meeting being held near Northampton. This looked more like it, models with a sprightly performance that would be simple to build. Being powered by standard engines turning a sensible sized propeller they were also well within the 82db BMFA noise limit and could be flown at any club field.

The Organisation
Club 2000 is governed and organised by a committee of seasoned racers. Graham Clarke, who himself can boast 27 years in the sport, is the Contest Director who receives the entries and organises the events of race day. Most of the race meetings take place, on the first Sunday of each month, at a site just outside Northampton.

Race Day
Race day normally starts with most competitors arriving at around 9 o' clock. The first job is to erect the course, a bit of a chore that is made a lot easier by the involvement of all the competitors. Once the course has been erected a few test flights can be made, at the discretion of the Competition Director.

Racing commences with everyone competing in a series of qualifying heats, 6 heats are normally run during the course of a day with the best 4 times counting towards your overall placing, it's all about consistency this game. Pilot ability is split into Groups 1, 2 and 3. Group 1 being the very best flyers and Group 3 being where everyone starts. All groups have their own finals for which trophies and prizes are awarded. Thanks to the efforts of Graham and the attitude of the competitors these race days are quite laid back affairs and not the cut and thrust events that you might expect.

The rules governing the construction of the models are so simple that you could design your own model, if that is not to your liking then Modelcraft of Coventry can supply a suitable kit called the Freedom 2000 which is available with a built up or fibreglass fuselage. Indeed this model powered by the Irvine .25 is the favoured combination of most racers. If you really don't like building then the staff at Modelcraft, in Coventry, can sometimes build the model for you.

Lets do it
Having decided that this is the discipline for you, where do you go from here? I would suggest that you contact one of the people listed below who will be able to tell you how best to proceed from here. Take time to check out the excellent website at where you will find a wealth of information including the rules and regulations. All races are held at a venue near Northampton. Why not come along and have a look.

Frank Fletcher Club 2000 Chairman 01939 233712
Graham Clarke Contest Director 02476 4211124

This page has been contributed by UK Pylon Racing