“Zero to 90 mph in less than a second”: Drone Racing leagues taking off in New England

WRENTHAM, Mass. — Drone technology has come a long way. Boston 25 flies drones to cover breaking news. Emergency officials use them to get an overhead perspective during an incident or an ongoing investigation. The technology has now turned into global racing professional sport. Local racing leagues are also taking off across our area.

Southern New England Drone Racing MultiGP is kicking off its outdoor season in Wrentham on May 6. They have been competing for months at one of their indoor sites in Foster, Rhode Island.

Carlos Campos and Mark Silva are avid drone racers and they showed us the drone racing course that Campos built in a backyard barn. It is drone racing but with a twist, sometimes lots of twists in this course. “You are like inside of it like you would be inside of a plane or any kind of aircraft,” described Campos.

It’s technically called First Person View, or FPV, drone racing. Basically, it’s technology that makes you feel like you are inside the drone flying. “You wear a set of goggles and you can see the video and you control your drone kind of like a game but more realistic,” said Campos. “We started racing, setting up obstacles out in fields,” said Silva.

Campos and Silva showed Boston 25′s Robert Goulston how it all works. “I might hit a few sides here and there but I will manage to finish,” joked Silva. Their league races all year. “In here like 10-15 miles per hour. Larger scale drones outside can fly 60-70 even faster,” said Campos.

One big challenge is knowing the course. They are always different and there are always lots of turns. Campos showed us how he does a walk through a course before racing. “You go through here, and around, down, through the cube and then back through the timing gate,” said Campos. “You basically, you got to remember. You have to learn the course.”

The competition and intensity really take off in the Drone Racing League, known as DRL. We talked to CEO and Founder Nicholas Horbaczewski over Zoom from DRL’s headquarters in New York City. “Our drones in our races can go from 0-90 miles per hour in less than a second,” said Horbaczewski.

Nicholas Horbaczewski grew up in Metro-Boston and launched this global professional drone racing organization in 2015. “Our courses are set up in NBA arenas, in MLB arenas. We are using huge metal gates, structures that they are flying through. If you come to one of our events, it looks like a real-life video game,” said Horbaczewski.

DRL says this sport attracts more than 100 million fans a year. “Our fans are young, really into technology and we have really created a sport for them. Something where they can focus their energy and excitement about technology but also combine it with the passion of being a sports fan,” said Horbaczewski.

While their venue may not be as grand, Campos and Silva say every one of their amateur races is a win-win. “It’s a compete with your friends. It’s a competitive thing,” said Campos. “It’s all of that. The whole experience of everything combined. Is what I like,” said Silva.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW