The Complete Guide to Buying the Best Racing Drones

Drone racing has exploded from a niche hobby to a mainstream sport with six figure prize purses, corporate sponsorships and matches broadcasted on ESPN. Often compared to the early days of auto racing, this cutting-edge sport fuses aviation, FPV (first person view) video and competitive racing fueled by continuing innovations in drone technology.

Racers fly small, custom built drones equipped with cameras streaming live video back to their goggles, giving them a cockpit perspective as they tear through aerial courses at speeds over 80 mph. Modern racing drones mix and match components like motors, flight controllers, batteries, airframes and FPV systems to maximize speed and maneuverability on tight tracks with obstacles.

While early interest focused on freestyle and homemade drones, a new generation purpose-built racing models offer unmatched performance and ease of use out of the box.

In this guide aimed at drone racing newcomers, we‘ll cover everything you need to know to pick the right racing drone, learn to fly fast and compete in your first race:

Overview of Top Pre-Built Racing Drones

Racing drones prioritize cutting edge hardware for speed, agility and connectivity over camera quality and battery endurance. Pre-built designs offer tuned performance with room for customization as your skills progress.

Racing Drone Spec Comparison

ModelTop SpeedWeightSizeCameraPrice
DJI Mavic 2 Pro44 mph907gFolded: 214×91×84 mm
Unfolded: 322×242×84 mm
Hasselblad 20 MP 1′′ CMOS, 4K@30fps$1,729
ImmersionRC Vortex 18097.2 km/h (60 mph)TBD190 mm motor-motor$149.99
Walkera F210100+ mphTBD263 x 263 x 95mm1080p$369.99
VTI FPV Duo>45 mphTBD175 x 175 x 75 mm720p$175.99
Holy Stone HS420TBD105g166 x 166 x 45 mm720p$69.99

Despite tech differences, top racing drones share abilities like:

  • Speed modes – Limit top velocities to help new pilots develop skills before unleashing full thrust
  • Advanced flight controllers – Deliver stable, agile handling to zip through tight spaces
  • HD FPV camera/video – First person perspective fed to racers‘ goggles during flight
  • Reparability – Durable designs and replaceable parts to minimize crashes

Next we‘ll break down standout options racing drones.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro hits the sweet spot of performance, features and image quality, making it our top overall pick. It reaches blistering speeds up to 44 mph, making it competitive with purposed built racing rigs costing twice as much. The folding, portable design paired with 31 minutes of flight time gives you the flexibility take it anywhere. And the Hasselblad camera captures gorgeously detailed aerial photos and video. The Mavic 2 Pro has forward, backward and downward facing obstacle avoidance sensors to prevent crashes.

If you‘re looking for an all-around stellar racing drone that also creates jaw dropping aerial footage, this is it. Used Mavic 2 Pros run $1200-1500 providing high end racing abilities for less.

Shop the DJI Mavic 2 Pro on Amazon

DJI Mavic 2 Pro quadcopter drone

DJI Mavic 2 Pro (Image credit: Elvin Cohen on Unsplash)

ImmersionRC Vortex 180

The ImmersionRC Vortex 180 packs unbelievable speed courtesy of its optimized powertrain generating over 1,100 watts of thrust. It rips through courses, topping out at an insane 97.2 km/h (60 mph). The Vortex 180 features an FPV camera and video transmitter, plus a durable yet lightweight carbon fiber frame.

While not as portable as folding drones, this purebred racer quad is perfect for competition and honing freestyle skills. The professional tuning and easily repairable construction make the Vortex our speed demon top pick. At $150 it‘s an affordable way to enter serious racing.

Shop the ImmersionRC Vortex 180 on Amazon

Walkera F210

The Walkera F210 racing drone boasts precision aerodynamics and a robust carbon fiber frame that can handle crashes and payload weighing up to 1 pound. It comes packaged with the DEVO 7 transmitter that streams real-time HD video. The powerful motors deliver triple digit top speeds for blazing performance.

Reviewers praise the F210 for its nimble handling and stability, making it easier fly for beginners while packing capabilities to thrill advanced pilots. If you want a great looking, high performance racing drone straight out of the box, the Walkera F210 takes the cake.

Shop the Walkera F210 on Amazon

VTI FPV Duo Racing Drone

The VTI FPV Duo stands out for providing an exceptional first person view experience. It packages 720p HD camera and video transmitting hardware plus immersive FPV goggles. The long flight time lets you race or freestyle longer between battery swaps. Easy controls features like altitude hold and auto-hover make the VTI Pilot friendly for beginners.

Yet it still pumps out the performance with speed modes reaching over 45mph. For the most complete out of the box FPV racing drone bundled with a crisp hi-def camera and goggles, this package can‘t be beat.

Shop the VTI FPV Duo on Amazon

FPV goggles provide an immersive racing drone flight experience

FPV goggles let you see realtime video streamed from the drone (Image credit: Erik Mclean on Unsplash)

Holy Stone HS420

You don‘t need to spend a fortune to experience the thrill of FPV drone racing. The Holy Stone HS420 packs awesome features like automatic take off and landing, altitude hold and headless mode into a drone costing less than $100. It records 720p video and stills directly to your phone over WiFi.

While it can‘t match the performance of premium racing rigs, its nimble and quick enough for novice and intermediate pilots. If you want affordable access to the exciting world of first person drone flight, this Holy Stone package is your ticket.

Shop the Holy Stone HS420 on Amazon

Key Factors When Comparing Racing Drones

While shopping for your first or next racing drone, keep these aspects in mind:


Lighter drones require less thrust to accelerate quickly and achieve higher top speeds. But they sacrifice durability – crashes that would dent heavier quads can completely destroy lighter frames. Beginners should consider starting with a sturdier drone before moving to more delicate rigs.


Nimble, responsive handling helps you navigate tight spaces and perform mid-air stunts. Ensure your racing drone can lock into a stable hover as well – this makes it easier to learn fundamental flight skills.


Sheer velocity is an obvious performance benchmark. But consider acceleration and nimbleness through complex courses as well. These traits greatly impact overall racing times. Lighter drones tend to have an edge here over heavy camera platforms.

Motor Power

More powerful motors translate directly into faster speeds thanks to increased rates of climb and thrust. Brushless motors offer drastically better performance over old school brushed motors. High end drones may use custom wound racing motors tailored for maximum efficiency during accelerations, climbs and horizontal flight.


Advanced flight control systems leverage sensors and processing for stable, agile handling in the air. Beginners should enable lower speed modes to avoid oversteering and crashes when learning. FPV racing drones capable of performing stunts like flips feature specialized rate mode settings.

FPV Video System

Realtime low latency video from the drone to your goggles is the heart of racing‘s immersive experience. Advanced drones can stream 720p or 1080p footage across long distances. When comparing FPV setups, prioritize frame rate and responsiveness over resolution for racing.

Flight Time

Racing quads maximize speed over flight duration, but more air time between battery changes still helps. Flight batteries may be hot swappable to get back in the air quickly. Expect 5-10 minutes per charge during aggressive racing.


Crashes happen, especially when pushing a drone‘s limits. Robust designs use strong yet lightweight materials like carbon fiber. Expect to replace inexpensive drone‘s frames regularly, while costlier builds hold up better. Many racing drones feature modular components that can be easily swapped after hard landings.


Alongside durability, you want readily available replacement parts at affordable prices. Some manufacturers open source frames, allowing 3D printing of custom components. If you‘ll be repairing (not replacing) your racing rig after crashes, ensure parts remain accessible.


Racing drones range from under $100 to over $1500. Inexpensive starters feature pared down performance and durability, but allow honing basic flight chops before investing more. Intermediates can reap big competitive gains spending up to $500. Beyond that offers diminishing returns for amateurs.

Getting Started with Drone Racing: 5 Tips

Learning to fly and race drones takes patience and practice but delivers awesome adrenaline rushes. Follow these tips when getting started:

1. Master Fundamentals in a Simulator

From muscle memory to operating modes, much of racing is counterintuitive without flight experience. Master air basics like hovering, changing direction and controlling altitude in an FPV flight simulator before taking real quads out. This allows crashing infinitely at zero cost while building key skills.

2. Fly Conservatively

When first piloting real drones, enable lower speed modes and avoid risky maneuvers. Get a feel for response times and limitations of both the controls and video feed. As confidence improves, gradually test higher speeds and more challenges courses. Resist the urge to go all out too quickly.

3. Review Drone Setup Guidance

Between properly calibrating components, understanding firmware options and setting controls, racing drones take some tweaking out of the box. Seek out detailed product manuals and user forums with tips to optimize your model and avoid rookie mistakes.

4. Find Local Groups & Events

From informal meetups to full blown competitions, joining local racing groups connects you with veterans glad to share expertise. Most host casual practice events perfect for getting air time among fellow enthusiasts in a low pressure environment. They‘re also the first step towards competing.

5. Continue Improving Your Skills

Like any sport, pushing your abilities against rivals drives progress. After getting comfortable flying alone, test yourself in time trial races against the clock. This lets you experiement with lines without worrying about collisions. Think about weaknesses holding back your times, then drill practice sessions targeting those areas.

Remember that all expert racers, from recently sponsored pros to veterans with trophies and sponsorship deals, started out learning step-by-step just like you. Stick with the process, connect with other enthusiasts and enjoy the thrill of this fast paced community built around bleeding edge drone tech.

Next Steps Along Your Racing Journey

We hope this guide covered everything required to select your ideal racing drone and have a blast gaining flight confidence. Here are helpful next pieces we recommend checking out:

Choosing FPV Goggles for Immersive Racing & Flying Experience

Building vs Buying a Racing Drone

Understanding Drone Racing Events, Competitions and Formats

Best of luck taking your new racer out for its first spins! May many podium finishes await in your future.

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