The Johnny Appleseed Trail Association, the tourism arm of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Fitchburg are pleased to announce that Fitchburg and North Central Massachusetts have been selected by the Drone Racing League (DRL) as the official New England site of one of its six 2017 Allianz World Championship races that culminate in a winner-take-all World Championship event.
“It’s very exciting that Fitchburg was selected by DRL to host their 2017 drone racing series”, said Mayor Stephen DiNatale. “This selection is testament to the strong partnerships that we have in place here in North Central Massachusetts and our region’s strengths in the robotics and video gaming industries.”
“Securing the DRL race is significant for North Central Massachusetts,” said Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the Johnny Appleseed Trail Association. “Not only will the region benefit from the direct economic impact of hosting the race, but this will also showcase North Central Massachusetts to national and global audiences as a great place to host or grow a business.”
DRL discovered the Fitchburg site after meeting with the Johnny Appleseed Trail Association at a national trade show for sporting events. North Central Massachusetts is an emerging sports tourism location, so strategic investments have been made to attract events and exhibitions in this region. DRL and the Johnny Appleseed Trail Association worked closely with the site selection team to find the right space for their New England race.
“We looked around aggressively for a community to host our New England race site,” said Ashley Ellefson, Director Operations for DRL. “Fitchburg was the ideal location and the Johnny Appleseed Trail Association, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber and the City of Fitchburg were all amazing in support of our efforts.”
The Championship series will include six races to test piloting skill and the limits of FPV (First Person View) flight. The races will begin airing on premier broadcast channels, including ESPN, ESPN 2, Sky Sports Mix and 7Sports in more than 75 countries, in June 2017. Each DRL race features 16 of the world’s greatest drone pilots flying DRL’s custom designed racing drone at speeds above 90 MPH through one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional racecourses in venues around the world. The Championship races are an elimination style competition that culminates in a world championship and the crowning of the World’s Greatest Drone Pilot.
Given its rapidly growing worldwide audience, the biggest benefit of securing the DRL race will be the national and global exposure for Fitchburg and the region. DRL’s first season reached millions of fans around the world, including more than 30 million broadcast viewers and more than 43 million views of its digital content. The region will also benefit from the hotel rooms booked for staff and media, and the new direct spending in the region by the visitors associated with DRL. Since drone racing also incorporates robotics and gaming, there are also possible educational opportunities for local students involved at the gaming program at Fitchburg State University and at Mount Wachusett Community College.
The Drone Racing League (DRL) launched in January 2016 as the only global professional drone racing organization, hosting five professional races in its inaugural season. Founded in 2015 by Nicholas Horbaczewski, a former executive with the Tough Mudder race series, DRL has quickly gained the reputation as the new “sport of the future” with its rapidly growing worldwide audience. The technology company is financially backed by investors including RSE Ventures, Lux Capital, Sky, MGM, Hearst Ventures, and CAA Ventures. DRL has also secured sponsorships from major national brands including Bud Light and leading global insurance brand, Allianz.
DRL joins a growing list of companies that have recently selected North Central Massachusetts, including Great Wolf Lodge that selected Fitchburg for its New England location; AIS that recently moved its operation to Leominster; Nypro that chose Devens for the expansion of its medical device manufacturing operations; and most recently the developers of Game On Fitchburg that selected West Fitchburg as the site of their major indoor sports complex scheduled to open in 2018. North Central Massachusetts also recently received national recognition for its efforts by industry professionals who plan sporting events.