The 5 Reasons Pro Drone Racing Isn’t Popular (yet)
Cody Brown

Hi, I’m an amateur quad “racer,” well “crashed” is probably a better term. I’m also the owner and founder of an online store specializing in FPV quad racing (I avoid the term drone as applied to these unmanned aerial vehicles given the war connotation; preferring instead multi-copter, quadcopter or just quad).

I grew up in the 80s when the biggest sports stars to me and my friends were pro skaters. The Bones Brigade, Thrasher Mag, etc. Tony Hawk being the most famous of these athletes. The thing with skating is that the skaters didn’t care if it was popular or not. They just wanted to skate. That a few entrepreneurial young men, also skaters themselves saw a business opportunity and made a few bucks selling skateboards is a side note to what became a significant cultural movement in this country. Like punk rock, it had a DIY aesthetic, with kids up north in SF turning the hills into a concrete skate resort. Instead of chairlifts we took the bus up the hills. Money was made by the skaters who turned pro by winning contests and taking a percentage of the boards that were designed to their specifications. If you were a kid into Duane Peters, you bought a Duane Peters or Baby Duane board (which is what I rode).

Quad racing to me is a nerdier version of the skate scene. It’s still DIY, but instead of invading empty pools, folks learn to solder and build their own quads. Trying different components and slowly building up their electronics and piloting skills.

Frankly I don’t care if quad racing becomes a big spectator sport, and the cheesy, ESPN style some of these organizers are using I think is doing more harm than good for the hobby/sport.

The best pilots will go pro through team sponsorships, and take a sizable cut of the air frames made to their specifications. YouTube is the place to go to watch rad pilots show their jaw dropping skills. Big glitzy events with smoke machines and laser shows is like watching a punk band try to play it cool as they’re made to dress up like a hair metal band to fill stadiums. That’s super lame.

Skating is still a big thing today. Where I live in the meat packing area of downtown New York, there is a rad new skatepark filled with young kids shredding every day. And 30 years from now, people will still be building and racing awesome little quads, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people will follow them on YouTube, try to learn their tricks, and buy the same gear they use.

And those of us in love with the hobby who have decided to make a business out of creating, curating and selling quad racing gear will do just fine. Stop trying to make this into the lame-ass NFL and everything will be A-OK.

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