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| April 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

Nick Horbaczewski

The founder and CEO of the Drone Racing League takes an emerging sport to new heights and a surprising range of venues

Horbaczewski-Ret_v01

Nick Horbaczewski learned a number of things about growing a sport and building a loyal fan base at Tough Mudder from 2013–2015, serving in roles that included chief revenue officer and senior vice-president of revenue and business development. But in 2015, he took those skills and turned his attention to drones, founding the Drone Racing League. The league features pilots controlling drones at 80 mph on courses that wind their way through checkpoints in some considerably nontraditional venues. And quickly, the league and the sport have taken off. The first season of five races aired on ESPN in 2016 and the next season begins in June. In February, the league announced that Allianz had signed a multiyear title sponsorship.

In this interview with SportsTravel’s Jason Gewirtz, Horbaczewski discusses the league’s early challenges, DRL’s fan base and whether drone racing is an e-sport.

What was your introduction to drones?

The first time I ever saw drone racing was with Ryan Gury, who is now our director of product. He took me to a field behind a Home Depot on Long Island in early 2015. There were a group of guys who got together every weekend and flew their home-built drones around a racecourse and I just thought it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen. I then began to look into it and discovered that it was a global phenomenon. There were people all over the world getting together in fields and parking lots racing their drones. I began the process right there of seeing if we could build it into a major sports franchise and a global spectator sport.

To read the rest of this Q&A in the digital edition of SportsTravel, please click here.

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