Coming soon: Drone racing

“It’s all I think about,” said Richard Howarth, one of the pilots. “I feel like we are at the beginning of something big.”

When an emerging sport is said to be underground, it is rarely meant to be this literal.

The pilots are in the forefront of the nascent but growing sport of drone racing, which, in just over a year, has spiraled from scattered handfuls of hobbyists to a promising new competition. Race organizers are hailing the potential for televised races and significant financial purses.

“We see this as the future,” said Charles Zablan, chief operating officer of the International Drone Racing Association, a league of over 500 members, based in Los Angeles, that was created in April. “This can be just like the X Games, motocross racing and Red Bull air racing.”