By Santiago Panzardi
Almost 50 contestants entered the event this year. Roy Andrassy and Mike Helsel conducted inspection for the stable of 190 mph-plus capable thoroughbreds. Skies were nice and sunny with a forecast of less than 10% chance of thunderstorms, but who is going to believe that for a Muncie summer day of 90° and high humidity?
The first two rounds were unrelenting, with most pilots posting times between 1:03 and 1:08, with the exception of Roy Andrassy who proceeded to smoke the course with almost a 1-minute flat for 10 laps, and flying a BRIGHT NEON ORANGE (yes, it was loud) Precious Metal Mustang. There were many airplanes lost in the first two rounds, sidelining a few top pilots like multi-time Nats Champion Dub Jett among others.
Just before heat race 24, a thunderstorm cell formed a few miles to the west of the field, preparing to make a lie out of the forecast and forcing an hour-long break, mostly due to measuring equipment malfunctioning every time it rained.
The rounds continued and more airplanes were lost. I should explain that the racers were not literary lost, just transformed into many pieces scattered all over the ground. Others were literally transported to the clouds above …
Every year, the talent of the field rises with just about every contestant having the ability to defeat anybody—making every heat race of the preliminary look like a flyoff for the top trophy. The Q-40 preliminaries were completed after six rounds, with the top 10 comprised of John McDermott, Ben Jones, Tim Lampe, Mark Parker, Mike Masi, Craig Korsen, Dean Stone, Marcus Blanchard, Jason Duda, and Terry Frazer on top.
Top 26 pilots plus two wildcards would move on to the finals. Travis Flynn was 27th but made it in by virtue of his 1:03.12 time, and Bill Johansen with a 1:03.93. It was a tough break for another top pilot and recent inductee to the AMA Model Aviation Hall of Fame, Jim Allen. In 28th, he should have been included by points scored merit.
Speaking of points scored, while I’m standing on my two stacked soap boxes, I will be the voice of many who want the wildcard option to stop and let the points stand for themselves when choosing qualifiers. Not disclosing the criteria to choose the wildcards also leaves a lot to be desired.
The Q-40 Finals
The good, the bad, and the very ugly battled it out for five more rounds to decide the winners. All finals heats perform a racehorse start, where the best launching partners can make a significant difference if everything goes perfectly on the release and the pilot flies a straight line to Pylon One. Keep in mind that most of the pilots in the field in the preliminaries were capable of setting times in the mid to low 1:0s, making every heat of Q-40 finals a very tight and contested affair.
Once the dust settled after two tiebreakers for 2nd through 4th and 5th and 6th places, the winners were announced: Kurt Bozarth 8th, Jason Duda 7th, Dan Kane 6th, Mike Masi 5th, Randy Ritch 4th, Bryan Blanchard 3rd, Roy Andrassy 2nd and fast time, and for the first time, the winner of the AMA Q-40 Nats is Terry Frazer. Craig Korsen’s flawless calling was instrumental in Terry’s win.
Terry Frazer, “the intimidator,” as he used to refer himself after his idol, the late Dale Earnhardt, is one of the fiercest competitors and nicest guys you will meet in the pits. But when he is on the racing course, you see an all-out, take-no-prisoners approach, and who sets the course on fire every time the flag drops. His relentless drive to improve has been witnessed by everyone, as Terry is one of the first guys to show up to any contest to practice and the last one to leave the field. He is also quick to help fellow racers with advice and even loan top machines to young, up-and-coming racers in the district.
Recently, Terry helped with finalizing the installation of a plaque and new monument in memory of Cliff and Nancy Telford, two beloved pillars of the Pylon family. You see, this self-proclaimed intimidator is, at his core, a great man, with a big heart for racing and his fellow competitors, and in 2019, Terry Frazer is the Q-40 AMA National Champion.
See more photos from the 2019 RC Pylon Nats in our Flickr Gallery!