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This guide gives pilots a crash course on drone racing, including the top five ready-to-fly racing drones, what FPV drone racing is, how it works, and a glossary of important drone racing terms.
Flying an FPV (first person view) racing drone is an otherworldly experience.
Before now, only in movies and video games could most people experience a bird’s-eye view while racing through obstacles at breakneck speeds. Thanks to FPV quadcopters, hexacopters, and other multirotors, anyone with enough flying skill to maneuver a drone can have this experience.
FPV racing is growing rapidly as a competitive sport, and it’s become commercialized by organizations like the Drone Racing League, U.S. Drone Racing Association, and events like the World Drone Racing Championships. Pilots compete to make it to the top of the international rankings and to win prize money up to tens of thousands of dollars.
These quadcopters can fly up to 120 miles per hour (or faster) through hoops, around trees, over bars, and just about any object.
Race tracks are set up to challenge each pilot’s skill set. Professional tracks set up for sanctioned races can get extremely complex, requiring pilots to make acrobatic maneuvers to get around/through each obstacle. Many drone racing pilots also enjoy setting up their own courses, using DIY racecourse kits like this one from Eagle Pro, for practice or recreational use.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional drone racing pilot, you need to practice, practice, practice! An excellent way to develop your flight skills is to practice on a simulator, like the DRL Simulator or the DJI Flight Simulator. Then you can move up to a small FVP drone for hands-on practice. These starter drones are sometimes called tiny whoops or power whoops. We like the Force1 U49WF FPV Drone for practice. We’ll look closer at more advanced, professional quads later in this article.
[We asked the 2018 DRL Allianz World Champion Paul “Nurk” Nurkkala what advice he’d give to aspiring racing pilots. Check out the interview here.]
You should also plug into the drone racing community. Look for local racing events in your area and join a drone racing league. Attending events as a spectator can help you learn more about the sport and may give you an opportunity to network with or seek mentorship from an experienced racing pilot.
Check out these five resources to find drone racing events to join:
In the professional ranks, pilots are broken up into teams for cohesion and scoring, much like in NASCAR and other types of racing. Each pilot on a team typically uses similar equipment and some leagues require all their pilots to fly the same system for a fair competition.
Here are the different leagues and championships available:
There are a few different types of racing drones, and it’s important to know the difference between each before you purchase one. Racing drones are very different from consumer camera drones use for photography and video, like the Mavic 2 Pro or Yuneec Mantis Q.
Racing drones typically come in one of three setups:
1. Ready-to-fly (RTF) – Drones made for FPV racing that require no additional assembly.
2. Bind-and-fly (BNF) – Drones that come completely assembled, but without a controller.
2. Kits – Bundles of compatible components that require some assembly. May include the frame, motor, connecting parts, the controller, the transmitter, and/or other parts.
3. DIY racing drones -Pilots handpick all the components of their system and put them together to create a DIY, custom-built racing drone system.
If you’re interested in checking out drone racing kits, here are a couple of examples (additional parts are required with each kit/system):
If you’re interested in diving into the technicalities of DIY racing drones, head over to our community forum where drone pilots talk shop about their DIY drone projects.
For the rest of this guide, we’ll be focused on ready-to-fly and bind-and-fly models.
Note #1: All specs/features are obtained from the manufacturer or retailer.
Note #2: On this list, we’ve included models available for sale on Amazon — as an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission for qualifying purchases. Please know that we’ve tested many of the models on this list, and we wouldn’t recommend anything we wouldn’t fly ourselves!
The Walkera Runner 250 Pro is one of the most popular ready-to-fly FPV drones on the market.
This racing drone features a carbon fiber frame that’s ultra-durable and crash-resistant. Its new, self-developed MR Drone flight control system enables stable flight and precise flight attitude. The drone can also come to a quick stop and eliminate the drift due to inertia, lowering collision risk.
It is also simple to disassemble and reassemble, which means it’s ready to fly as is, or can be customized by the pilot. When flown as it, this drone reaches speeds of up to 21-25 miles per hour, and the Runner 250 Pro is equipped with an 800TVL HD camera for live FPV streaming.
The Walkera Runner 250 Pro is a solid FPV racing drone at a modest price for serious racers.
The EMAX Hawk Sport 5 has revolutionized the drone racing space. Fast and furious, this high-speed racing drone can reach speeds up to 105 miles per hour.
The quad has a sturdy build, but maintains an optimal power to weight ratio for speed and durability.
Powered by the Mini Magnum III, the Hawk 5 Sport utilizes a high-performance speed-controlling system to accept up to 25.2 volts of power. The 5” AVAN Scimitar propellers offer a superior flight experience on the Hawk 5 Sport for beginners and pros alike.
This ready-to-fly FPV racing drone, ARRIS X-Speed 250B, is fully assembled, tuned and tested before leaving the factory. Plug the battery, then fly.
The new ARRIS 2205 brushless motor and 5042 propellers can work together to offer the highest performance. It supports GPS mode, Attitude Mode and Manual mode. It also supports accurate position hold, return to home (with user setup), and Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC).
Plus, the ARRIS FPV mini camera is specially designed for FPV. This camera performs well in both bright and dark conditions with 1200TVL high-quality image. And the camera angle on the drone is adjustable.
Walkera Furious 215 will get your adrenaline pumping whether racing on the track or freestyle. is the latest ready-to-fly racing drone quadcopter. The quad is designed around the F3 Flight Controller with rapid response speed, providing pilots a first-class flight experience.
If you are into racing and freestyle aerobatic flying, this may be for you. The airframe design is modern, simple, lightweight fuselage but with a rugged crash structure. This ready-to-fly racing drone comes with high-performance brushless motors, 5040 5-inches clover propellers, and a 4S 60c LiPo, to give you that adrenaline rush!
This unique 130mm racing drone is tiny but powerful. The large-capacity brushless motors combined with 130mm size makes the drone superbly powerful.
Within the carbon fiber frame, this mini racing drone has a clean overlook and well-protected components. Not like other mini drones, VIFLY R130 has an attached mushroom antenna to provide a better signal.
This is an excellent drone to start off with on your FPV racing journey. Before purchasing, make not that this quad is BNF (bind and fly), meaning that you will need to purchase a remote controller separate before it is fully RTF (ready to fly).
FPV (first person view): Using a screen, monitor, or goggles to view what your multirotor’s camera is seeing in real time.
Line of Sight (LoS): Being able to physically see your drone as you’re piloting it.
FPV racing: A rapidly growing sport in which pilots race small quadcopters around a predetermined track.
RTF (ready to fly) racing drones: Drones made for FPV racing that require no additional assembly.
DIY racing drones: A homemade do-it-yourself racing drone.
FPV camera: A special camera used for first-person-view racing, piloting, photography, or videography.
FPV goggles: A special set of goggles used to view what the multirotor’s camera is seeing in real time.
Head tracking: An FPV goggle mod that allows you to adjust your camera’s angle mid-flight by tilting your head.
Interpupillary distance: Internal goggle lens distance from the center of your pupils.
LCD monitor: A screen, usually attached to the controller, used to view what a multirotor’s camera is seeing. Usually used instead of goggles.
Transmitter: Relays the camera’s feed to the receiver.
Receiver: Accepts the camera’s feed and relays it to your screen/goggles of choice.
Frequency: The radio frequency FPV equipment runs on. Can be brand-dependent. Allows for multiple channels so pilots don’t interfere with each other.
FPV system: The entire drone rig, from the multirotor itself, to the connecting parts, to the controller and video display method.
On Screen Display (OSD): Gives you flight telemetry data (speed, altitude, battery life, etc) on your FPV display. See a full OSD guide here.
TVL (Resolution): The camera’s resolution, which helps determine video feed quality and clarity.
CCD camera type: Camera that uses a charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor. Typically better for FPV.
CMOS camera type: Camera that uses a complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor. Typically cheaper than CCD cameras, but not as good for FPV.
Video Latency: Lag in what your camera sees and when it transmits it to your screen/goggles. Can lead to inaccurate flight, racing maneuvers, and aerial shots.
Jello: Vibration in your video caused by the multirotor itself.