15          Racing Procedures

15.1        Introduction

The following racing procedures will be used at all USRA sanctioned racing events.  The purpose of drafting these racing procedures is to standardize the operation of a USRA sanctioned race and to allow members, new and old, to review (prior to participation) how a typical race is conducted.  Additionally, members will be aware of their responsibilities prior to, during and after a race.

15.2        Aircraft Entries

15.2.1            You may register as many aircraft as you wish.

15.2.2            Each aircraft will be considered a separate entry.

15.2.3            Racing Entries will be open until the first heat race of the event; however, last minute entries are subject to missing the first round due to timely completion of inspections and the race matrix.  Pre-entered racers arriving late will be allowed to join the race in progress with proper notification of the Race Promoter.   Late arrivals will receive Zero points for rounds not flown in.  In no case will the race be delayed to allow any competitor to complete technical inspections.  Late arrivals can expect their technical and safety inspections to be completed at the end of the day’s race activities if an inspector is not available during the lunch break.

15.2.4            Each aircraft must have one and only one designated pilot.  Only that designated pilot is allowed to compete with that entry.

15.2.5            A properly completed Aircraft Safety Inspection form is required for each aircraft at every race.

15.2.6            Backup aircraft are allowed at an event.  An associated backup entry fee will be set at the promoter’s discretion with 50% of the fee going to the USRA.  Backup aircraft must pass technical and safety inspection prior to racing.  In the event that a USRA Technical Inspector rules that the primary aircraft is no longer airworthy and cannot be repaired, or at any other time the competitor chooses, the primary aircraft may be grounded and the backup aircraft activated.  Once the backup aircraft is activated, the original primary aircraft is no longer eligible to race for the duration of that event.  Backup aircraft must display the same race number as the primary aircraft, and be on the same frequency.  A backup aircraft may not be another primary entry in the same class.  Backup aircraft are specific to the pilot for the duration of the event.

15.3        Prior to a Race

15.3.1            Approximately 3 months prior to a race, the race promoter will make available to race participants a race application form.  Race participants must complete a race application form for each aircraft they intend to race, including backup aircraft, and submit the form, with entry fee, to the race promoter.

15.3.2            Aircraft Safety Inspection forms are required for each race that an aircraft enters.

15.3.3            Race participants must obtain an Aircraft Safety Inspection form for each aircraft entered and, if possible, complete it (except for the portion the inspector will complete) prior to arriving at the race.  Forms are available by writing to the USRA or by downloading from the USRA website at usra-racers.org.  It is the responsibility of the aircraft owner to ensure the aircraft meets all technical specifications, which includes the Common Rules, Specific Class Rules and Aircraft Specification Sheets.  Please do not put the Technical Inspector in the uncomfortable position of “grounding” your aircraft because it does not meet a technical specification.  If you are unsure about a specification, contact your District Representative or a USRA officer and rectify any problems prior to arriving to a race.

15.3.4            Last minute entries may complete the Aircraft Safety Inspection form upon arrival at a race.

15.3.5            If your aircraft is new and/or does not have a logbook, coordinate with your USRA District Representative to have your aircraft inspected and issued a logbook and serial number stickers prior to the race if possible.  If this is not possible, the aircraft must be inspected and issued a logbook by a USRA Technical Inspector at the race.  Please make arrangements with the Technical Inspector as soon as possible after arrival at the race.

15.4        Race Check In

15.4.1            Upon arrival to a race, locate the check-in area and register your arrival.

15.4.2            At check-in, you will be assigned your Pit Area and issued your Flight Line Access wristbands.  Any additional race information will be provided at this time.

15.4.3            Flight Line access is controlled through the use of non-removable wristbands.  Only Flight Line team members are permitted to obtain a wristband.  Receipt of a wristband at check-in is contingent upon the race team member's completion of a Waiver of Liability form.

15.4.4            After check-in, the Flight Line Access wristband must be worn at all times.  Modified wristbands or wristbands worn on hats, belt loops, etc. are not acceptable.

15.4.5            No person is permitted access past the Spectator Line unless they are wearing a valid wristband.

15.4.6            After race check-in, set up your pit area so that your aircraft may be inspected.

15.5        Pit Areas

15.5.1            You will normally be assigned one pit area (size determined by race promoter) for a race entry.  If you have more than one aircraft, your pit area size will be correspondingly increased to accommodate more aircraft.  Please coordinate your pit area with the race promoter.

15.5.2            If an airport ramp area is used for the pit area, there will be no driving of motor vehicles on the ramp area or in the pits other than for arrivals and departures and official vehicles.

15.5.3            Golf carts and other motorized vehicles are permitted at the race promoter's discretion.

15.5.4            Engine run-ups are not permitted in the pit area.  You may perform engine run-ups only in the designated engine run-up area.  Crews performing an engine run-up in any area other than the designated engine run-up area may be disqualified at the discretion of the promoter.

15.5.5            Please keep the appearance of your pit area professional and clean.

15.6        Alcoholic Beverages

15.6.1            No alcoholic beverages are to be consumed in the pit area or by any pilot until the Flight Line closes for the day.  Failure to comply may result in immediate disqualification.

15.6.2            Intoxicated persons may be asked to leave the grounds at any time.  The aircraft owner, entrant and/or pilot are responsible for the conduct of all of his/her crewmembers.

15.7        Technical & Safety Inspection

15.7.1             All aircraft must pass a static safety inspection and powered radio range check inspection prior to racing. Technical and safety inspections are held the day before racing begins. All backup aircraft should be declared and presented at this time for inspection. Any aircraft present at the event that can reasonably be expected to fly or held as a spare aircraft should be registered and passed tech during the normal tech session.  Tech inspections after the normal tech session will be subject to the availability of the USRA Technical Inspectors.

15.7.2            The safety inspection must be completed by a USRA Technical Inspector prior to any flying. Please have your aircraft ready for inspection (wing, cowling and hatches removed) and your Aircraft Safety Inspection form available.

15.7.3            If your aircraft is being inspected for the first time (in order to be issued a logbook and serial numbers) the aircraft measurements must be verified by a USRA Technical Inspector.  Please allow more time for this inspection and have readily available for the inspector the 3-views for the aircraft and any/all supporting documentation.  Additionally, be prepared to discuss construction methods, materials used, etc.  The logbook and serial number stickers will be issued upon successful completion of this inspection.

15.7.4            Upon completion of the safety inspection, proceed to the powered radio range check inspection area with your aircraft, logbook, Aircraft Safety Inspection form and starting equipment.

15.7.5            If a range check is deemed necessary by a Technical Inspector, the operation of the aircraft flight control surfaces will be checked from a distance of 90 feet  (or manufacturer’s recommended distance) with the transmitter in “Range Check Mode” and the aircraft engine at full power.  Upon successful completion of this inspection, the Aircraft Safety Inspection form and your logbook will be signed off

15.8        Radio Requirements

15.8.1            All radios are required to be 2.4.   

15.9        Scheduling

15.9.1            Only one class at a time is raced.  That is, all of the heats for Biplane Class are run, then all of the heats for the AT-6 Class are run, then Formula One and so on.

15.9.2            The tentative order of rounds is Biplane, AT-6, Formula One, Unlimited, Formula 1 GT, Thompson Trophy and Experimental.

15.10      Staging

15.10.1          In order to know when to stage, please keep track of the race matrix or appoint a team member to do so.

15.10.2          There are two staging areas - the Preliminary Staging Area and the Final Staging Area.  Plan to stage in the Preliminary Staging Area at least two heats prior the heat you are scheduled to race in.  If you are in the AT-6 Class or Formula 1 GT, please allow more time since de-fuel, weigh-in and fueling must take place during Preliminary Staging.

15.10.3          Proceed to Final Staging when directed.  In most cases you will be able to have possession of your transmitter prior to Final Staging.

15.10.4          Final Staging is assigned by lane color according to the printed heat race matrix.  Stay in your assigned position.  While in Final Staging, the heat prior to yours is racing - you are the next heat.  Be ready to race!

15.10.5          As soon as all of the aircraft in the heat prior to your heat have landed, you will be directed into the Race Ready Area.  Pilot and Turn Caller will proceed to the correct color pilot position in the Pilot Station.  Your aircraft, aircraft holder and aircraft starter will be directly in front of your pilot position in the Race Ready Area.  A minimum of three people per entry should be present on the flight line to allow for an expeditious and safe start and takeoff.

15.11      Engine Start and Takeoff

15.11.1          Once the runway has been cleared of the previous race, your heat race will begin.  If you are not in the Race Ready Area at this point, you have only two more minutes to arrive.

15.11.2          At the end of those two minutes the Race Ready Area is closed.  No one may enter the Race Ready Area with an aircraft at this time.  Your transmitter and aircraft receiver should be on and your aircraft starter in a position to start the engine.  Check your flight controls now!  The race official will signal all crews for engine start.  Start your engine.  You have two minutes to start the engine and be ready for launch.

15.11.3          Takeoff will be in the order of your colors unless an aircraft is having trouble.  Do not launch if you are not ready.  The pilot and turn caller should be in the Pilot Station and the aircraft launch person holding the aircraft.  Confirm with each other that you are ready for launch.  Once again, do not launch if you are not ready!  When signaled by the race official, your aircraft launch person will walk the aircraft to the center of the runway and point it down the runway in the direction of the launch.  On the pilot's cue, he/she will let go of the aircraft and then clear the runway directly to an area behind the Pilot Station.

15.11.4          If your engine fails to start or subsequently stops after the expiration of the two-minute start window you must clear the start line immediately.  No restarts are allowed during the one-minute countdown.  Aircraft already running and delayed from takeoff during the two-minute start window may takeoff following the Flight Line Director’s direction.

15.11.5          During the takeoff, pre-race, post-race, and landing phases of your flight, the near edge of the runway will be the Dead Line.  Observe the Dead Line and do not cross it.  During the race phase of your flight, you must not cross the Racing Boundary Line, which is the centerline of the runway.  Crossing the Dead Line or Racing Boudary Line earns you a zero (0) for that race.  The Contest Director, Flight Line Director or Assistant Flight Line Director will call Dead Line or Racing Boundary Line violations.

15.11.6          In the event that an aircraft propeller strikes the ground or appears to strike the ground during takeoff, the Flight Line Director will black flag the aircraft. The contestant should immediately reduce power to minimize the potential damage to the airframe and await landing instructions from the Flight Line Director.  After the aircraft lands the Flight Line Director will inspect the propeller for evidence of a prop strike and if none is found the heat will be re-flown.

15.11.7          After takeoff, fly to each pylon at an altitude that allows others room to takeoff.  Confirm that your color of light on each pylon operates as you round the pylon.  If it is not, have your caller alert the Flight Line Director.  They will rectify the situation.  Continue to fly the course to each pylon so that the lights can be verified.

15.12      Race Start

15.12.1          At the end of the two-minute engine start window, the Countdown Clock (across the runway and in front of the Pilot Station) will reset to one minute and begin counting down.  Your goal is to position your aircraft so that it arrives at (or just prior to) the Start/Finish Line when the Countdown Clock hits zero.

15.12.2          During the one-minute countdown you must fly in a predictable manner in a left-hand pattern that approximates the course.

15.12.3          When the one-minute Countdown Clock runs out, a horn will sound signaling the beginning of the race.  You are now racing!

15.13      The Race

15.13.1          At the sound of the horn, the race has begun regardless of your position on the course.  You must complete six laps of the course around the pylons, starting at the Start/Finish Line and ending at the Start/Finish Line.

15.13.2          If you were late getting to the Start/Finish Line at the horn, you must catch up that distance.  There is no penalty.  If you were early, i.e. you crossed the Start/Finish Line before the horn sounded, you have incurred a Start Cut and will be assessed a Start Cut time penalty when the race is complete.  Continue to race the course and complete six laps as if you did not Start Cut.  The Start Cut time penalty will be added to your official race time after the race is over in accordance with the rules.

15.13.3          If a video replay system is used at the race site all starts will be reviewed for start cuts as deemed necessary by the Contest Director or Flight Line Director.  If the replay is inconclusive the racer will be given the benefit of the doubt. 

15.13.4          Fly safe and courteous.  Observe the Dead Line and Racing Boundary Line at all times for your safety and the safety of others.  Crossing the Dead Line or Racing Boundary Line scores an automatic zero (0) for that heat race.  Fly predictably and do not perform any aerobatics.

15.13.5          Any race pilot may be Black flagged by the Contest Director for unsafe flying.  This includes gross Dead Line violations, prop strikes, unauthorized maneuvers, extremely low flying or intentional over-aggressive flying that would result in midair contact with another aircraft.  Black flagged aircraft score a zero (0) for that heat race.

15.13.6          If midair contact occurs between two or more aircraft at any time after launch, pre-race start or during a heat race, all of the aircraft involved in the midair contact (including aircraft hit by debris) will be Black flagged and required to land as soon as possible or when directed by a race official.  Midair contact after the conclusion of the race are not subject to being black-flagged.  After the completion of the race any aircraft suspected of being involved in a midair collision will be inspected by the Flight Line Director.  In the event that it is unclear as to which aircraft was involved in the midair (only one aircraft obviously damaged) all aircraft will be impounded at the flight line and all aircraft will be inspected.  The Flight Line Director will look for paint marks as well as minor damage to control surfaces, loose hinges, broken and stripped servo gears or any other damage that could be evidence of midair contact.  A USRA technical inspector can be called upon to assist in the aircraft inspection.  Once the aircraft are released from the flight line no further investigation can be done and the ruling of the Flight Line Director will be final.  It is suggested that all pilots maintain an accurate record of damage in their logbooks so prior damage is not misinterpreted as midair damage.  Responsibility to maintain logbooks is solely the responsibility of the pilot.  Black-flagged aircraft or aircraft found to be involved in midair contact will score a zero (0) for that heat race.

15.13.7          While you are racing, your Lap Counter/Timer will verify laps and record any cuts.  Your Lap Counter/Timer will also verify last lap and completion of six laps. 

15.13.8          When you have completed six laps, pull up and off of the racecourse to signal the Pylon Judges that your race is completed.

15.13.9          A re-fly can result from various reasons including timing and scoring issues, full scale airplane arriving in the airport traffic area, unauthorized persons in the safety zone, or any issue that is deemed by the Contest Director or Flight Line Director to result in an inaccurate race result or is unsafe to the contestants or aircraft.  If the race is called and the heat is to be re-flown, all contestants that were originally scheduled to fly will be given an opportunity to re-fly regardless of what occurred in the cancelled heat (e.g. a black flag, engine flame out, crashed plane) it is as if the cancelled heat never occurred.  In a Trophy race the alternates will be reset and must wait to see if one of the primary planes fails to launch.  A re-fly does not have to be done in all circumstances, if the race is well underway or completed and all affected contestants feel that the outcome of the race was already determined, the primary heat pilots can agree not to do a re-fly.  If any one of the primary pilots objects then the race will be re-flown.  A minimum of 45 minutes will be provided to fuel and service the aircraft will be given before the re-fly takes place.  The minimum time can be reduced if agreed to by all affected pilots.

15.13.10        There will be a minimum 45-minute break scheduled between rounds to allow the contestants adequate time to prepare, service, and inspect their aircraft for the next round.  These breaks may be done in conjunction with a lunch break and may be reduced to 30 minutes if circumstances dictate and safety will not be compromised as approved by the USRA Chief Technical Officer or his designated representative.

15.14      Landing

15.14.1          When each aircraft in your heat has completed the race, prepare your aircraft to land.

15.14.2          Continue to fly an approximate racecourse pattern at an altitude to avoid conflict with aircraft in the landing phase.

15.14.3          When directed by the race official, set up your aircraft in a standard rectangular landing pattern and land.  Be alert for other aircraft and people on or near the runway.  Do not land if you feel the conditions are unsafe.  Go around and set up again.

15.14.4          Race officials will advise you of dead sticks or other landing priorities.  If you are on final and are made aware of a priority landing, go around (unless you are a priority yourself).  Remember that you are pilot-in-command of your aircraft - fly it accordingly and do not compromise safety for any reason.

15.14.5          Once your aircraft is on the ground, taxi clear of the runway and shut off your engine.  Allow your crew to retrieve the aircraft.

15.14.6          Review your heat sheet for time, cuts, etc.  If you agree with the heat sheet, sign it (your turn caller may do this) and keep your copy.  After signing the heat sheet, you may not protest any portion of that particular heat race.  If you disagree with any part of the heat sheet, proceed to the Contest Director at the Lap Counter/Timer/Contest Directors Station to discuss your disagreement.  Please be professional in your discussion.  Any discrepancies must be resolved prior to leaving the Flight Line or protested at that time in accordance with the Official Protest procedures of the Common Rules.

15.14.7          Points will not be credited for any heat sheet that is not signed.

15.15      Penalties

15.15.1          Dead Line - At no time can you fly across the near edge of the runway (Dead Line) or its extension.  This will result in a Dead Line penalty.

15.15.2          Racing Boundary Line - At no time during the race can you fly across the runway centerline or its extension.  This will result in a Dead Line penalty.

15.15.3          Start Cut - Treated the same as a Pylon Cut.  The number of seconds added to the official time varies according to the Class you are flying.  (See below)  Assessed if:

15.15.3.1      You are beyond the Start/Finish Line when the clock reaches zero.

15.15.3.2      You perform any aerobatics, including loops, just prior to the Start/Finish Line.

15.15.3.3      You fly toward the pilots in an attempt to make a left turn when the clock reaches zero.  Ideally you should be in a cone 20 degrees wide as you enter the start zone with your final turn made toward the Start/Finish line at or near pylon two.

15.15.3.4      You make an abrupt pull up just prior to the Start/Finish Line as the clock reaches zero.

15.15.3.5      You fly a 360-degree circle immediately prior to the Start/Finish Line.(  In order to clarify this rule,” You may turn out away from the pilots station prior to the start clock reaching zero, establish a straight line back  towards pylon two and then make your final turn towards the Start/Finish line at or near pylon two. This cut will be called by the Contest Director or the Flight Line Judge if deemed unsafe”).

15.15.4          Gross Start Cut - Treated the same as a Dead Line call.  A Gross Start Cut will result in zero (0) points for that particular heat race and is assessed if you have crossed the Start/Finish Line and there are 2 seconds or more of time remaining on the Countdown Clock before the Start Horn sounds.

15.15.5          Pylon Cut - You must fly past the pylons.  If you do not completely pass a pylon before turning, you will be assessed a Pylon Cut.  Additional seconds are added to your official time for each Pylon Cut you receive.  The number of seconds added vary according to the Class in which you are racing and are as follows:  AT-6 = 10 seconds, Formula 1 GT = 10, Biplane = 10 seconds, Formula One = 8 seconds, Thompson Trophy = 8 seconds, Unlimited = 6 seconds, Experimental = 6 seconds, Sportsman = 15 seconds.

15.15.6          Gross Pylon Cut - When, during a race, a turn to the opposite side of the racecourse is performed that is not in the immediate vicinity of a pylon, you will receive a Gross Pylon Cut.  A Gross Pylon Cut will result in zero points for that heat race.

15.15.7          Black flagged - Any race pilot/aircraft may be Black flagged by the Contest Director for unsafe flying.  This includes gross Dead Line violations, prop strikes, unauthorized maneuvers, extremely low flying, intentional over-aggressive flying that would result in midair contact with another aircraft, midair contact with another aircraft at any time after launch, pre-race start or during a heat race or trophy race (including aircraft hit by debris).  Black flagged aircraft are required to land as soon as possible or when directed by a race official and score a zero for that heat/trophy race.

15.15.8          Disqualification - Any disqualification for any reason will result in the loss of all points for the entire racing event.

15.15.9          Sportsman Violations

15.15.9.1      120 Second Violation – A raw time of less than 120 seconds will result in zero (0) points for that heat race.

15.15.9.2      Second Time Stalling Warning - Issuance of a second warning during the same heat race will result in zero (0) points for that heat race.

15.15.9.3      Timing Device Usage – Use of any form of timing device during the race by pilot or caller is prohibited.  Timing usage will result in zero (0) points for that heat race.

15.16      Trophy Races

15.16.1          Trophy Races are conducted using the same procedures as the heat races.  If circumstances prevent the running of a Trophy Race, trophies and prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the race event organizer/promoter.

15.16.2          The five aircraft with the most points at the end of heat racing will advance to the Trophy Race on the last day of the race.

15.16.3          Two alternate aircraft will be staged in the event that one or more of the finalists are unable to compete.  Both alternate aircraft must be running prior to the completion of the two-minute countdown clock.  If the 5 primary aircraft are airborne at the completion of the two-minute start clock, the alternates should shut down and clear the start line.  If the primary planes are unable to become airborne at the completion of the two-minute start clock, an alternates will be used.  Alternates are not to be used for a Dead Stick aircraft.   Be prepared to launch at the Flight Line Director’s direction.  Safety and good headwork are paramount in this dynamic situation.  Follow the Flight Line Director’s directions!

15.16.4          If Bronze and Silver Trophy Races are run, the Bronze winner and 2nd place Bronze finisher will stage as alternates to the Silver Trophy Race.  Likewise, the Silver winner and 2nd place Silver finisher will stage as alternates to the Gold Trophy Race.  In the event that the winner and/or 2nd place finisher cannot stage, the next higher finisher will stage in their place.

15.16.5          All aircraft that fly in a Trophy Race may be subject to a complete technical inspection after the Trophy Race is flown.   At the completion of each Gold Trophy race all aircraft will immediately be impounded.  An area will be designated adjacent to the primary staging area as the impound area and the planes must be placed it this area for defueling and completion of other trophy races.  No maintenance can be performed on the plane nor can it be returned to the pits. After defueling the planes the aircraft will be weighed.  This may occur in an enclosed area to minimize atmospheric effects.  In addition the AT-6 and Formula 1 GT class aircraft will have their cowls removed for visual conformation of the stock engine status. Based on a random drawing one engine in each of the classes will be removed and torn down for further inspection.  If an aircraft is found to be illegal, the pilot will be disqualified and is not eligible to win the event.  Additionally, the pilot will receive zero points for the racing event.

15.16.6          Racing event trophies and cash prizes will be awarded based on the outcome of the Trophy Races and after all post-race technical inspections are completed.