They called it “L.A. Pocalypse.”
Converting the guts of an abused and abandoned former shopping mall in Hawthorne, with all its graffiti tagging, leaking roof and other sketchy surrounding, a quaint “Mad Max”-type TV venue was all there and more for the Drone Racing League.
It was a setting better suited for a secret fight club instead of a half-dozen freaks and geeks with goggles and customized sweat shirts with their handle names across the front, fighting it out with controllers of souped-up prop-driven remote-control machines that zipped through old storefronts and escalators in 90 mph clips.
As a studio audience was also on hand to root, ESPN saw the seeds planted.
That show was one of the highlights during the first season of the DRL on the World Wide Leader that once began with teaching Aussie Rules Football and decades later continues to push the definition of athletics and amusement with competitive eating, poker and the Spelling Bee.
Penetrating into esports-type territory with something that looks like a cross between BattleBots and “Star Wars” Phantom Menace pod racing, the DRL regenerated this past week with a second run on ESPN that will go through a six city, 12-episode journey leading to championship in London in late July. Craig Hummer, the former marathon swimmer and triathlete who always seems to get the call for extreme-type sports, is the play-by-play man giving it more TV legitimacy.