Motorsport is in a funny place right now. Formula 1 is a watered down, relatively dull product with more politics defining it than House of Cards, and NASCAR continues to be very much NASCAR in nature (i.e. American).
And despite the best efforts of Ken Block, World Rallycross drivers and the MotoGP, racing seems to have become more a sport for the ardent purist than ever before.
Meanwhile though, machines are becoming more of a force in world sport than ever before. The resurgence of Battlebots and Robot Wars has been monumental over the last year or so, while even professional football clubs are investing in their own E-Sports teams.
Whether or not you believe either of these to fit your definition of the word “Sport” at all is entirely down to you, but they’re here to stay, and the sport of Drone Racing may be the next big thing to come out of it.
Everyone knows what drones do by now, for better or for worse. At their best, they’re a fun new spin on the model plane.
At their worst, they’re tools to dish out death and destruction on people thought to be enemies of the free world.
Now though, apparently they’re also racing machines, piloted by only the very cream of the crop.
As funny as that sounds, being an elite-level drone pilot is far from either model plane racing or a video game.
A stretch from what you can buy in your model store (we presume), these drones fly at speeds up to about 130km/h, covered in LED’s and looking like something that, if put into Anime form, would have sent kids batshit crazy in the late 90’s.
This combined with the obstacles laid out on each course and the fact that the drones themselves are pretty small, means that crashes happen. And when they do, they’re more often than not catastrophic.
To avoid this, the pilots fly them wearing special glasses that offer a first-person view from the drone in real-time using a special camera.
Racing drones also sacrifice the stabilising software normally found on standard camera drones, meaning they can pull off much sharper, faster twists and turns and offer remarkable levels of freedom to their pilots.
Like many sports, two separate racing leagues already exist for Drone Racing, DR1 (hilariously sponsored by both Mountain Dew and Doritos) and the DRL.
Both essentially seem to offer the same thing, and both claim that they are the pinnacle of their new sport.
We suggest you judge for yourself with DR1 streaming live on Twitch for the coming season.