Drones

Will the DR1 Invitational Be Good?

DR1 Invitational with Ummagawd

The DR1 Invitational will take place June 25 and 26 in Los Angeles and will air live on Twitch with a $30,000 grand prize

Billed as “one insanely epic fast race”, the DR1 Invitational is the first race with a major sponsor, first to stream live on Twitch (with Twitch’s participation), and will also be shown on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. That’s a lot of firsts.

But will it actually be entertaining?

DR1 Racing has been serious about getting into the drone racing world. They have multiple livestreams on Twitch, including weekly ones with Zoe FPV and Bapu. They’ve also created Drone Center, which is a drone version of SportsCenter. (Disclaimer, this author has provided a special report for Drone Center.) Everything DR1 has created has been focused on creating entertainment for fans of drone racing that hasn’t been done before. They don’t always succeed on the “entertainment” part of that. But it is always creative.

So what about the actual racing?

The DR1 Invitational this weekend will be the first race DR1 puts on. And they seem to recognize that they can’t jump into producing a race without any experience and expect it to go well. Instead, they’ve partnered with MultiGP for help with the logistics and management of the race itself.

The MultiGP team is also responsible for the design of the course itself. Pilots will race all around a 400×400 square area, with multiple steep elevation changes to fly around pillars and to the top of the dam’s bridge. With a two lap requirement, this will push the limits of the drones’ batteries.

DR1 Invitational Course

The DR1 Invitational course layout.

The backdrop of the race, the Sepulveda Dam, is also a popular backdrop for a lot of Hollywood films including The Fast and the Furious, Entourage, and Iron Man 2. Plus one for the location.

DR1 has also tapped an experience pilot, Mr. Steele, for race hosting duties. Because as we all know from the World Drone Prix (WDP), a race host without any drone racing experience is terrible. Mr. Steele has some experience in a similar capacity for the second day of WDP16 and performed well there. His co-host will be Mr. Steele’s Mustache.

This also means Mr. Steele will not be flying in the race as originally expected. Although he will participate in a small freestyle competition on Sunday, along with Zoe FPV and other pilots. Eleven of the twelve pilots competing in the race were chosen by DR1 Racing by criteria known only to them. But all the members of Rotor Riot (minus Mr. Steele), two members of Big Whoop, and the winner of WDP16 will be competing, indicating name recognition is certainly a major factor.

There are some complaints about DR1’s claim of having the “top 12 pilots in the world” competing at the race.

One pilot, Johnny FPV, was chosen by a Twitch audience. Dozens of pilots submitted flight videos to be shown on DR1’s Twitch stream over a period of five weeks. The DR1 audience voted on which pilot they wanted to see compete in the Invitational and Johnny FPV was the fan favorite.

Full Pilot List:

  • Tommy “UmmaGawd” Tibajia
  • Chad “FinalGlideAUS” Nowak
  • Jordan “Jet” Temkin
  • Luke “BanniUk” Bannister
  • Zachry “A_Nub” Thayer
  • Kevin “StingerSwarm” Dougherty
  • Bapu “Bapu FPV” Madhu
  • Carlos “Charpu” Puertolas
  • Shaun “NYTFury” Taylor
  • Phil “Freybott” Freybott
  • Gary “Justice FPV” Kent
  • Johnny “Johnny FPV” Schaer

These pilots will be flying their own quads. Each must be carrying a GoPro and use a 4s battery. Pilots have been given a heads up about the requirements and have had access to the course layout. This will help them better prepare for the race beforehand.

The Schedule

Saturday, June 25, is the practice day. A pilot’s fastest lap will determine their seed position for the main race on Sunday, June 26. Initial races will be run in groups of three pilots. The first and second place finishers of each race will move on to the semi-final, leading up to the final race with the $30,000 cash (or “giant novelty check”) grand prize.

Saturday practice starts at 10AM PST. Sunday Semi-Finals are 2PM PST, and Finals start at 4PM PST.

Having an all day practice is a luxury that these small invite-only races have. Pilots and spectators aren’t expected to have complaints about long cycle times or not enough flight time.

Both days will be streamed live on Twitch. With all of the money and Hollywood experience being pumped into the DR1 Invitational, the production quality is expected to be high. An hour long special will be produced after the race to air on August 6th on the Discovery and Science channels. DR1 Invitational Bracket

Final Thoughts

Combining the power of Mr. Steele and MultiGP is a smart move. An entertaining host and efficient race management will always produce a good race. But despite their experience, Saturday will be a slow day as the pilots get used to the course and the format. Sunday will be the day to watch.

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