What goes into making a premier drone sports experience?

DR1 Racing Events

For that question, we turn to Sahand Barati, Vice-President of Business Development of DR1 Racing and Sean Krell, Technical Director for the same. DR1 Racing is the world leader in drone racing, combining top pilots and exhilarating outdoor locations into high-octane racing event series, produced and distributed on a global scale. Currently, DR1 Racing events are broadcast in over 100 countries and 300 markets around the world. With a roster of best-in-class broadcast media partners, brand sponsors and licensed product extensions, DR1 has established itself as the leading drone racing franchise in a rapidly growing market. In this edition of the Drone Radio Show, Sahand and Sean give us an overview of the league and provide insights into why the League is so popular.

In This Episode

  • Introduction. Sahand Barati, Vice-President of Business Development and Sean Krell, Technical Director both from DR1 Racing briefly discuss the history of the league. The league is the brainchild of Brad Foxhoven and was created in 2016.
  • Racing Structure. What distinguishes DR1 Racing from other leagues is that the structure of the championship series is built around “teams” rather than individual racers. Each team must pit at least once to replace batteries. This adds a different dimension to the overall race. Additionally, the sites for the races are set in exotic, beautiful landscapes located around the world. The racing series consists of five top drone racing teams competing in six races in epic outdoor locations around the world—the iconic Trona Pinnacles and The Mojave Bone Yard in California, a three-dimensional skyscraper race in Bonn, Germany, Ireland’s historic Bunowen Castle and Spike Island, and concluding with the Series Finals on the iconic cliffs of the Isle of Man.
  • CBS As A Media Sponsor. On November 4, 2017, CBS Sports aired the DR1 Series Finals. This marked the first ever drone racing program to appear on CBS and BeIN. CBS and BeIN join Eurosport, Fox Sports, and Twitch.tv in broadcasting the DR1 Drone Racing to over 100 countries around the world. The addition of CBS and BeIn demonstrate the rapid growth of DR1 drone racing. DR1 will now be reaching virtually every home in the United States, a first for DR1 and a first for the sport of drone racing.
  • Sponsor Growth. DR1 Racing has successfully solicited DHL, Mountain Dew Dell, Army and Air Hogs as sponsors. Any sponsor that comes in and backs a new sport, like drone racing, should be recognized. It shows that the sport is definitely growing. As it does grow, there will be a need for more sponsorship.
  • Drone Racing’s Popularity. Sean believes that the reason drone racing is so popular is because there is a zero physical barrier of entry for anyone entering the sport. Drone racing has every race, creed, religion, age, ability, disability – nothing can prevent people from becoming a good (or great) pilot, other than their own commitment to flying and improving.
  • League Rivalry. As with any emerging sport, there are several entities that start out hoping to establish themselves as the leader. Sahand believes that anyone pushing for the growth of drone racing is doing a service for the sport. That includes other drone racing leagues. It’s like motor sports, where there’s definitely room for various leagues to exist, each have a different format or flavor that they bring to the table.
  • Event Planning and Set-Up. Sahand describes the DR1 operation as a pack-in and pack-out set up. All of the gates, the pilot station and everything that is needed to fly and run the race gets delivered, is set up, the race executed and then everything is packed up and moved to the next location. Part of the challenge is finding exotic sights, placing the course within the natural environment and using the features of the site to create a challenging experience for the pilots.
  • Micro Drones. Micro Drones offer a great entry level platform for anyone wanting to get into flying, particularly for young people that need something that’s accessible, inexpensive and safe. The micro drones provide real world experience that can grow the sport. Micros are to drone racing what go carts are to Formula One. They really can make one feel like they’re training for a real drone race without causing bodily harm to people.  They can be flown indoors. They could very well be the catalyst that brings this high intensity sport of drone racing to the masses. DR1 Racing and Air Hogs have created the first-ever, first person view “FPV” toy racing drone. The drone is available in nationwide retailers in August.
  • Joining DR1. Prior to joining DR1, Sahand worked with Bank of America for five years. Prior to that he worked in event promotion. Sean is now designing courses that rival ones that he hoped that he would fly one day. Both men are now leveraging their skills and talents to pursue their passion for drones and drone racing.
  • Differentiators. The one thing that DR1 Racing really wanted to do with the champion series was to give the audience six memorable racetracks. None of the tracks look the same and fans have really appreciated the contrast between locales and the memorable experiences that are created. For an emerging sport, those memorable experiences define the league and is one reason why fans look forward to the races. As a drone pilot, all you want to do is go to new and exciting locations and that’s what the series is all about.
  • Closing. Going into 2018, DR1 Racing will strive to lead the sport of drone racing with exciting races from exotic locations all over the world. They will continue to attract the best talent and teams to provide fans with the best possible racing experience.

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