Hey sports fans how did you spend your time this past weekend? Chances are the answers range from watching March Madness, to catching Jimmy Johnson’s march toward NASCAR history, to observing Jason Day’s meltdown then comeback to win Arnie’s tournament on the PGA TOUR. Or maybe you watched hockey, soccer, LeBron and Steph, women’s hoops or the LPGA.
How did I spend my time? Thanks for asking. I didn’t see a second of the blowouts, upsets or buzzer beaters. I didn’t get the chance to catch a single left turn, birdie putt, hat trick or alley oop. I was too busy being part of the production team for one of the most fascinating and exciting events I’ve ever witnessed… Drone Racing.
Believe me it’s a “thing” and thanks to the folks at DRL, the Drone Racing League, it just might be the next BIG thing. The men and women behind this enterprise are a brilliant, passionate, creative, indefatigable bunch. My impression is they would do what they do for free, because they love it. But they’re working hard to make sure they don’t have to so we can all love it too.
These are not your father’s drones. This is not about recreation or delivering a package to your front door. These beauties are built for one thing, racing. They are brightly lit, 850 g (that’s a little less than 2 pounds), foot long, flying missiles. They literally scream through the air at speeds of up to eighty miles an hour controlled by young, attractive, FPV (first person view) pilots who push the limits during every race. The drones are all the same (except for the neon colors) but the FPV pilots all exhibit different personalities, styles and strategies which makes the racing fascinating and fantastic.
An earlier DRL race was staged in Miami in and around Dolphins Stadium. You can watch that action on YouTube by searching DRL or go to http://thedroneracingleague.com/
If you’re intrigued give it a look, if you’re not intrigued you should be so give it a look anyway. The race I was lucky enough to be involved in was about as far away in look, feel and geography as you could get from Miami and still be in the continental United States. It took place in an abandoned shopping center in Hawthorne, California just south of the L A airport and the masterminds at DRL utilized nearly every foot of the dusty, gutted, graffiti filled, dark, dingy place.
The pilots were tasked with navigating their machines up, down and around a race course through brightly lit neon markers. Where there once was a Macy’s, Sunglass Hut or Sears, DRL used iconic LA area landmarks to frame checkpoints and gates and the staging was awesome. Images of the Hollywood Sign, a metro car, the Santa Monica Pier and the 5 freeway held the spectators interest long after the drones had maneuvered through them at full throttle. Concrete columns turned neon yellow, orange and blue lit the course’s path of twists and turns and on more than several occasions proved to be unforgiving obstacles ending a race. Turning, in an instant, a perfectly performing flying machine into drone pieces and parts scattered along the surface of the decaying, forsaken mall.
Drone Racing checks all the boxes for a sporting event of the future. It’s fast (each heat lasts no more than a minute), it’s fun, it’s competitive and it’s filled with drama. It’s got plenty of the elements associated with traditional racing combined with ALL the advantages of present and future technology. The Drone Racing League (DRL) is well worth of a few minutes of your time. It was unquestionably worth a weekend of mine.
Again, check it out at
http://thedroneracingleague.com/ or DRL.io
you’ll be glad you did.