drone racing | Drone Snap

Introducing drone racing: the latest sporting craze

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you will remember that cool pod-racing scene from the 1999 film, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, where beings from all across the Star Wars Universe hopped into pod racers (interesting looking, hovering vehicles) and raced across the dessert.

The results were disastrous for all but two of the contestants, with a young Anakin Skywalker emerging victorious in the end. This particular scene looks a lot like the modern day phenomenon of drone racing.

Often used in aerial photography for taking aerial photos, drones – like many tools before them – have taken on an entirely new set of uses other than what they were initially built for. The latest being drone racing.


What is drone racing?

Racers, who are usually trained drone pilots, fly the drones using goggles which are connected to the drone via a radio signal.

“The pilots are usually sitting down, holding controllers and wearing goggles that display a first-person-view feed from a camera in the drone. They follow pylons and dodge obstacles,” explained drone pilot, Jason Eaton, in an interview with Toronto Life.

The sport is relatively new but it is catching on quite fast in the United States. In fact, the sport’s first national championship took place last summer (2015) and there is even a Drone Racing League (DRL) which just announced its first official racing season.

“The league hopes to be the Formula 1, NASCAR and MotoGP of drone racing,” wrote Jacob Templin for Quartz, and the league has secured significant investment from capital venture firms and celebrities towards achieving that goal.

If they achieve that goal, then we could possibly see aerial photography drone races held locally, thus growing our own drone photography industry.

Aerial drone photography rates mean that aerial photography South Africa currently caters mostly for events, commercials and real estate, but who knows… Hopefully South African drone racing can become a tangible and regular occurrence.