Late in the evening, the field off US-75 highway at N.W. Lower Silver Lake Road looks as if it could be a scene from a science fiction film where perhaps aliens have landed.
The geometric and neon-colored lights are actually part of a drone race track set up by local business owner Austin Wright.
On Friday and Saturday, Wright will host drone demonstrations, lessons and races on the Sunflower Soccer Association grounds, 4829 N.W. 17th St.
Demonstrations and lessons will start at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
At 7 p.m. Friday, pilots will participate in a freestyle event, with judges scoring them on the best tricks. Pilots use drones varying in size and battery power, as well as goggles that give them an up-close, real-time view of the drone’s path. The drones can reach speeds of up to 136 mph.
At 9 p.m. Saturday, pilots will race drones through the lighted course, which took more than 24 hours to set up. The track was designed by David Moquay, of FPV Lightrax.
The race is part of the “Summer Sky Series,” Wright said. In May and June, pilots participated in races and accumulated laps. Saturday will culminate with a lap leader awarded as winner.
Wright said he expects more than 40 pilots from at least five states to race. The event will also include a disc jockey to “add atmosphere,” Wright
On June 3, 2016, Wright viewed a drone racing video on Facebook. Less than six months later, he had opened aDRONEaline Racing, 5835 S.W. 21st St. Incorporated in the company’s logo is “6316,” to commemorate the day Wright saw the drone video.
“Instantly, people were interested,” he said of the business. Since the store’s debut, it has made nearly $80,000 in sales.
Wright said he expects interest in drone racing to continue growing. Races already are shown on major networks, such as ESPN and NBC. Drone parks will start popping up much like golf courses, he
Earlier this week, Joey Dowding, of Meriden, practiced his piloting moves at the track. He became interested in drones after receiving one as a Christmas gift.
“My kids bought me one,” Dowding said. “And then I bought many more.”
Racing drones combines the adrenaline of a roller coaster and the speed of driving a racecar. But when there is a crash, no one gets hurt, he said.
Attendees can fly a drone for $10.
Admission to the Friday and Saturday competitions is $10 per car and $15 per van or large SUV.
For one night, admission costs $5 per car and $8 per van or large SUV.