There’s something about motorsport that inspires us all. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a die-hard fan of the sport or not, everyone has had that one dream of standing in Michael Schumacher’s place and having the crowd cheer you on as the band plays your country’s national anthem for millions around the world to hear.
It’s not just about the fame and riches, the rewards are more in the experience of going racing and proving that you are better than everyone else on track. While most of us would love to make a career out of motorsport for ourselves or foresee it as a future for our children, it’s not really as easy as it sounds to get into the sport itself. The first hurdle that stands in the way of many Indians is a basic lack of knowledge on where to begin.
Ten years back, this would remain a question unanswered unless you belonged to the southern stretches of India. With the only two race tracks in proper shape to go racing on (until recently), located in Coimbatore and Chennai, it was mainly the local lads from down south who could really make inroads to racing.
With the coming of the Formula 1 spec Buddh International Circuit in Noida, things have taken a turn for the better though. While these may still be race tracks for the more serious professionals, track days are fairly easier to come by now than they have been before.
It’s not just the better accessibility to race tracks that has begun to change the perception of motorsports in India though – a lot of that has got to be attributed to the efforts on the part of automotive manufacturers to not only spread awareness but also to seek out, train and give an international footing to Indian racing talent.
For many years it was the initiatives by JK Tyres and MRF that kept the mantle of motorsports alive. The big turn around happened when Volkswagen entered the arena with their one-make series.
While now-famous names like Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, Armaan Ebrahim and Aditya Patel have emerged from an era that preceded any major manufacturer involvement, the support from major car makers will soon give rise to a whole new generation of Indian racing talent on a global level.
Others like Toyota with their Etios Motor Racing trophy and Mercedes-Benz with the Young Star Driver program are also going a long way in putting Indian racers on the world map.
The surest way of not only having a good bit of weekend fun, but also to kick start a career in motorsport is to take up the mad world of go-karts. With some very significant championships taking place in India every year (like the Rotax Max Karting Championship), it has given a whole new avenue for young talent to explore their potential.
Succesful racers can then try to graduate into a manufacturer-supported one-make championship, then move on to racing abroad and growing further from there.
The other form of four-wheeled motorsport that appeals largely to the Indian psyche is rallying. With rallies like the Raid-de-Himalaya, the Desert Storm and the Moghul Rally becoming annual events, youngsters can try their hand out at this enchanted world of racing the clock.
Regardless of which form of motorsport you choose to pursue, you have to be patient and able to afford the kind of safety gear and training that is required. Above all, you have to have talent.