I had the opportunity to speak with Miller and Lacy Morrow (Clutzz), the producers of The Flymore Invitational Drone Race at Historic Savona Mill in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their race is scheduled for July 23rd and is a qualifying event for the 2016 National Drone Racing Championships.
The East Coast’s best pilots compete for one of two spots to qualify for the Drone Nationals. Hosted in the Savona Mill, a 100-year-old, historic textile mill in Charlotte, NC. Fans are encouraged to come! The viewing party will be hosted next door to the mill at Blue Blaze Brewing beginning at 1pm. See you there!
How did you get involved in drone racing and what are the origins of Flymore.io?
Lacy: The first time I saw a video of an FPV quad zipping through a building and around the outside, I was hooked. I knew this was something totally different and special I wanted to be a part of whatever it was. I got involved with building, flying, and racing with a local team in California, Team PROPSMAN. We’ve put on many successful races and wanted to see interest grow in the east as well.
Miller: Flymore was the result of Lacy’s passion for the sport and our shared determination to do something impactful with our time. We’ve been tossing around ideas for a long time, but something clicked around 6 months back and we decided we needed to stop talking about doing something and actually do something that we both enjoyed. Lacy loves drone racing, I love making things happen, so flymore came pretty naturally you could say.
Are you a drone enthusiast or racer or both?
Lacy: I’ve been hooked since day one. My lifestyle revolves around the drone community and FPV racing, spending hours building and practicing daily. I’ve joined up with team Propsman in San Francisco, training and holding community meetups and races known for exciting tracks and competitive pilots. I’m a competitive pilot and super active with the racing community.
Miller: Lacy has been methodically pulling me into the sport over the past year and a half. For example, Christmas 2014 he got my whole family drones; he got me a little Hubsan Spyder to mess around with. Fast forward to now, I follow the sport closely and am a big fan of freestyle videos. Don’t get me wrong– I’m a total rook. I’m just wrapping up my first build (QAV 210) and just graduated from the farm environment of Liftoff (the simulator). Enthusiast.
Tell us about the race and venue? How many competitors do you expect and how many spectators do you expect?
Lacy: The race is going to be excellent, the venue is super exciting. FPV Racing thrives on exotic and unusual locations to make events as exciting as possible for spectators. The Savona Mill is an amazing property that’s been unused for decades and has become the perfect abandoned underworld for our race. It’s a gorgeous 100-year old textile mill that’s all graffitied up on the inside. Argos Real Estate Advisors was thrilled to be able to showcase the area in a novel way and has loaned us the venue to make the race possible.
We’re taking the already gritty atmosphere of the inside and extending it to the track. 60 Pilots will race through different sections, gates, and obstacles in two adjoining rooms illuminated by LEDs.
Miller: With this race we’re attempting our own first stab at solving one of the big obstacles in drone racing– making the sport accessible to outsiders. A lot of people have caught some of the viral drone racing and are intrigued, but haven’t really been able to cross the gap to fan-hood; it’s not an easy sport to interact with if you’re not diving in the deep end yourself.
We are trying some new things to see if we can reduce that gap with this race. For instance, we’re not just hosting the race the 23rd, but we’re also hosting a live viewing party from the conveniently located brewery next door. We’re hoping to bring in those people who have seen those videos– they aren’t in far enough for a drone race, but are up for a drone race and a beer. It’s relatable. We’re also spending more energy on getting the live-stream right. Our buddies at DroneCLT videography are helping us create a high-quality production rather than a grainy live-feed. We’re talking HD video, split-screen race footage, and something to watch in between heats, like you’re watching NFL on a Sunday. Oh, and did I mention that Trace Von Quad from QuadTalk is hosting?
Will the spectators have a good view to what’s happening on the course?
Miller: Some spectators will be able to watch the live action from the pits; most will be able to see the broadcasted action from the comfort of the brewery next door.
How did you become a qualifying event for the National Drone Championships?
Lacy: No one is working harder for FPV Racing to become a widespread sport than the IDRA. They have been super supportive at the PROPSMAN races and were some of the first people we reached out to once we nailed down a date. They loved the venue and really made the race a serious competitive event by granting us two qualifying spots to the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships.
Do you expect to promote more races in the future? Is the first of many events for you in the South?
Miller: Part of Flymore’s mission is to continue the growth of the FPV racing community through events and education. We expect the Savona Mill Race to extend into a string of events benefitting the drone and FPV community. We’re playing with the idea of running a pro-am circuit. I imagine we’ll be ready to organize the next one as soon as we’ve soaked in what we learned from this one.
What’s the future of drone racing? What does it look like in five years?
Lacy: Drone Racing is in it’s infancy! Technology is only just reaching the point to make machines like FPV drones possible, but the innovations are increasing rapidly and the buzz is only getting louder about FPV Racing. The future is still unsure, a few poorly educated pilots have caused quite a bit of legal controversy around drones that is still simmering down, but the positive interest and momentum is only growing, with talks of giant 1000mm “Freedom-class” racers all the way down to the tiny, regulation-free FormulaBee races growing popular in San Francisco.
Drones are getting faster, races more exciting, and cameras are getting better. The future of drone racing will certainly be catered for the fans!
Anything else that you have you would like to share?
Miller: Checkout flymore.io to register or find out more about the race. Make sure to give our promo video a watch while you’re there if you haven’t yet!