Covid-19 forced leagues around the world to cancel events and postpone seasons, putting the sports industry into a global ‘time out’ and changing the landscape of professional sports for the near future. But for a tech-enabled fighter brand like The Drone Racing League (DRL), the world’s premier, professional drone racing property, this drastic shift in the market created an opportunity to highlight the league’s culture of innovation and authentic ability to merge the digital and the real.
Within six weeks, DRL unveiled the 2020 FanDuel DRL SIM Racing Cup, the first-ever fantasy, virtual drone racing series in partnership with NBC Sports Network and FanDuel, benefitting Direct Relief, the largest charitable provider of PPE to frontline workers in response to Covid-19.
From concepting an entirely new, Covid-compliant sports competition and locking in national partnerships to designing new supercharged virtual tracks and on-boarding a dozen new pilots to begin racing months earlier than originally planned, DRL captured and delivered eight hour-long events, which premiered in May.
The two-month long SIM Cup aired on NBCSN and Twitter, featuring 12 elite DRL pilots competing on the DRL SIM, the true-to-life drone racing simulator, remotely from their homes around the world. DRL pro pilots flew digital versions of custom DRL Racer4 drones through historic DRL maps and never-seen-before tracks, including a U.S. Air Force branded boneyard, for a chance to be crowned Champion. First-place level winners donated their earnings to Direct Relief. Fans participated in free daily fantasy drone racing contests on FanDuel and had the unique opportunity to race the same track as the pros: Following each broadcast, official SIM Cup maps were made available on the DRL SIM.
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