An endeavour in the home circuit

Fast Track

An endeavour in the home circuit

A drive through the Indian terrain can be measured neither in yards nor in kilometers but through the surprises that spring from every corner.

For racing driver Karun Chandhok, the drive, albeit on a whole new track, opened not only a window to changing landscapes but also helped him rediscover his roots.

“I travel all over the world as part of my profession but have never travelled widely in India. Ours is such a diverse country and it was really a shame that I couldn’t. Being part of ‘My Endeavour Alterrain’ show by National Geographic, changed all that,” says the London-based Karun.

So there he was, rediscovering Punjab. But things from afar are not always what is on the ground. “We covered a lot more than I thought, so many places in such a short time. I was impressed by the Golden Temple in Amritsar, how clean it is and the way the langar is organised. What also surprised me was the Wagah border. Till then, I hadn’t realised there was such pomp and revelry there every day. It’s like a
carnival,” he adds.

The champion driver, who made his ‘Formula One’ debut in 2010, continues, “I like to do serious shows that touch people’s lives, such as this. If I were asked
to do a Bollywood dance, I wouldn’t.”

Karun, who became the youngest ‘Indian National Racing Champion’ in the ‘Formula Maruti’ series at the age of 16, looks back at the milestones he has covered, with pride. “It has been a very interesting life but there have been highs and lows, as it is with any career. But I can say I have fulfilled my ambition,” he adds.

Karun says he grew up wanting to drive racing cars. “I did what I wanted to. My life has been unique,” he says. The journey, though not always smooth, he has risen like a phoenix.

Karun has also been juggling his roles as commentator and speaker. “The commentator part kind of happened accidentally.

In 2005, one of the sports channels called me to fill in for somebody. Soon, I did the ‘Chinese Grand Prix’.

Since then, I have worked with many international channels,” he says.

Life on the fast track is not without its risks. But he says, “I enjoy and love what I am doing. There’s more to it though —  managing the engineering, the financial and commercial pressures. But once you are in the car and working with your team, it becomes a unique experience,” he says.

What does he have to tell the youngsters raring to get into this sport since finance can be a big hurdle? “It is a capital investment sport. But with sponsorships, the scenario is changing in India. You have to give them the value for money though.

One has to be focussed on the commercial, the marketing and the technical aspects,” he explains. Karun, basically from Chennai, renews his connection with Bangalore from time to time.

“I have memories karting with my father here and I visit Bangalore whenever I can. The garden city’s charm is gone with so many high-rises coming up. Yet, it’s always quite lovely there,” he says.

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