Comcast Xfinity and the Aerial Sports League transformed the former Exploratorium building in San Francisco into a wild, gravity defying “Twisted ¼ Mile” to decide, for the first time, who is the fastest drone pilot in California.
To celebrate Comcast Xfinity’s new Gigabit Internet speeds, the California Drone Speed Challenge pitted 16 of California’s fastest, handpicked pilots against each other in a series of drag races. With a crowd of more than 200 in attendance, $10,000 in prize money and a feature broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area, bragging rights weren’t the only thing on the line.
Entering the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, attendees were greeted by reminders of the future and the past of speed. The first floor was occupied by an exhibit on the early US space program while in the distance gleamed the neon light and the sound of whirring drone propellers.
Upstairs in the viewing area, guests were treated to a pilot perspective virtual reality setup provided by Sixense, an Xfinity Lounge, refreshments and a first-row seat to the races. All while being protected by several layers of netting (these drones fly over 100 MPH).
Xfinity and the ASL didn’t want the event to just improve the public image of drones but emphasize the importance of technology moving forward. On hand to present a $10,000 donation to Girls in Technology was Kalpa Subramanian, Comcast Vice President of Engineering, who left attendees with the short but decisive message, “more girl power!”
After five rounds of high-speed action, a first-place winner emerged in the form of Colby Curtola, followed by Cory Ibanez and Shawn Allison taking the 2nd and 3rd places, respectively. Each taking their $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000 purses back home.
While the show was buzzing with live viewers, Comcast Vice President of Product Management, Preston Smalley, dropped a tidbit for viewers at home, “We’re experimenting and if this captivates the imagination, which I think it will, then we will find a whole bunch of ways to bring this to the viewer.”
The audience was as engaged in the races as they were online. Using the #CADroneChallenge hashtag, attendees were asked to tweet their most creative drone pilot name. With five racing drones on the line, we received dozens of entries before deciding the winning names: @kmillich (NosDronedamus), @RobHarries3 (Game of Drones), @TreLost (Thunderdrone), @GripEvo (Speedy Gonzales) and @Futurepeaksun (Flashterthanlight). Congrats future pilots!
Interested in hearing more about the ins and outs of the race?
ABC 7 News: Drone sports come to life at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts
SF Chronicle: Drone racing Lifts off, delivering ‘out of body’ experiences
CNET: Drone racing is a wild and crazy ride for big money
KPIX 5 News: Drone Drag Racers Vie For $10k Prize In San Francisco
About Aerial Sports League
The Aerial Sports League (ASL) is a worldwide leader in drone sports, entertainment and media. Since 2012, the ASL team has been creating and promoting drone sports, and has been a cornerstone of the drone sports community. ASL has hosted 650,000 spectators at live events since 2015, has earned over 8.5 million video views and over 50,000 social media followers. ASL pioneered fun-based drone education and has taught thousands of new pilots to build & fly drones through events, meetups and STEM education programs. ASL is currently developing dSports World, a full-time drone sports entertainment destination. Visit www.AerialSports.tv for more information.