The Drone Racing League propels ESPN into expanded definitions of sport – Orange County Register

note: a version has been put into Saxo with all corresponding hyperlinks … art has been emailed in


They called it “L.A. Pocalypse.”

Converting the guts of an abused and abandoned former shopping mall in Hawthorne, with all its graffiti tagging, leaking roof and other sketchy surrounding, a quaint “Mad Max”-type TV venue was all there and more for the Drone Racing League.

It was a setting better suited for a secret fight club instead of a half-dozen freaks and geeks with goggles and customized sweat shirts with their handle names across the front, fighting it out with controllers of  souped-up prop-driven remote-control machines that zipped through old storefronts and escalators in 90 mph clips.

These were neon fireflies on steroids navigating an agility course that went in and around replicas of an L.A. freeway sign and the iconic Santa Monica pier entrance arch added for character.

As a studio audience was also on hand to root, ESPN saw the seeds planted.

That show was one of the highlights during the first season of the DRL on the World Wide Leader that once began with teaching Aussie Rules Football and decades later continues to push the definition of athletics and amusement with competitive eating, poker and the Spelling Bee.

Penetrating into esports-type territory with something that looks like a cross between BattleBots and “Star Wars” Phantom Menace pod racing, the DRL regenerated this past week with a second run on ESPN that will go through a six city, 12-episode journey leading to championship in London in late July. Craig Hummer, the former marathon swimmer and triathlete who always seems to get the call for extreme-type sports, is the play-by-play man giving it more TV legitimacy.

Last fall’s first season was mostly an ESPN3 online venture, repackaged as an occasional ESPN TV show. Replays of that as well as everything this second season may be more friendly to those who use ESPN On Demand on whatever platform most comfortable. The…

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