Valor on Wheels: Sarah Kashyap and Karun Chandhok talk motorsports…


In a first event of its type, India’s second F1 racer, Chandhok, and Biking enthusiast and first and only Indian woman to complete the Raid de Himalayan on a motorbike, Kashyap, reveal their experiences with motorsports in India.

It is true that motorsports are based primarily in the western hemisphere, and India lacks behind, but why? A country of 1.2 billion has had only two professional F1 racers, and only one Indian woman has ever completed the trans-Himalayan Raid-de-Himalaya rally. They lacked support, garnered criticism, but they fought.

While Chandhok revealed to the axlr8r team leader Anubhav that he has always been a part of motorsport culture, with his family being automobile enthusiasts, Sarah had a completely different experience. Being five-feet-one, and riding a bike as heavy as the Himalayan, even the petrol pump staff usually goes ‘Mam aapke pair pahaunch jaate hain?’ (translation: Ma’am, how do your legs reach the ground?). She started riding early, however, discovered her passion while studying MBA in the United Kingdom, and even left her subsequent job at Google to continue riding.

Talking about motorsports, they revealed their interest in engineering behind it. Karun approximated the sport to be 70% engineering and 30% driver’s skills. He added how the driver’s feedback is required in the engineering process continuously, and further classified his sport as a team sport, contrary to popular beliefs.

He further talked about the motorsport scene in India, classifying it as a difficult time, perhaps in its inception. He claimed that they have to compete with popular sports like cricket and football for sponsorship, and sometimes felt the need to educate the people about this sport. It is apparent that his efforts might have started to pay off, as today at least the karting culture is on the rise.

Followed by public Q and A session, Karun introduced the students to the ladder of getting involved in motorsports. While, according to him, it is too late to become a driver, being an engineer isn’t that far from where we are. People usually climb through the ladder of multiple racing events, involving events like GT, to finally reach F1. However, certain engineers in F1 do get hired by teams like Mercedes and Red Bull directly after their masters.

Ending up with a note on following your dreams and traffic safety, Chandhok and Kashyap talked about how racing on the usual roads is not safe. ‘I never ride without a helmet’ exclaimed Kashyap, as Chandhok went on to talk about how he always drives under the speed limit on the roads, ending with a message of Traffic Safety and finishing the event on a good note.

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