Coimbatore, Aug 6 (IANS) Upcoming racer Chittesh Mandody’s journey on the fast lane started from his ancestral garage in Kolhapur to the Kari Motor Speedway here, where he swept all the three races of the LGB Formula 4 category in the opening round of the JK Tyre National Racing Championships last month.
The 24-year-old is already aiming big in the ongoing second round of the championships this Sunday but reveals to IANS why he has now kept his childhood dreams on the back burner due to lack of adequate government support.
The government has of late recognised motorsports officially as a sport but Chittesh feels there is still a long way to go.
“I started taking interest in racing since the age of eight. As a young kid, I would go to the garage, set up by my great grandfather, and often wanted to drive those luxury cars,” Chittesh told IANS here.
For the record, Chittesh belongs to a family of car mechanics who have been running a garage for the last 85 years.
This garage is a special one in the city as Kolhapur’s erstwhile royal family has been sending its cars for servicing and repairs there ever since it started its operations.
“From there it all started … the passion for driving, the dreams of becoming a F1 racer… and this journey got a meaning when I reached the final of the JK Tyre Karting National Championship in 2002-03,” he said.
It was hunky-dory for the 13-year-old racer till 2006, when he had to quit the sport for want of funds.
“I had to quit my passion after 3-4 years as it was getting more and more expensive. This made me have second thoughts if I really wanted to pursue racing as a career option,” he said.
However, as often happens in life, he got a second chance in 2007, thanks to the support of a Kolhapur businessman, Shivaji Mohite, and JK Tyres.
He came back to win the Rotax Junior Championship in 2007 and from then on there has been no looking back.
“The main headache was the lack of funds but somehow Shivaji sir turned out and sponsored me for the JK Tyre National Karting Championship in 2007,” he said.
Chittesh, who has now started his own business of car detailing besides being a trainer for upcoming drivers, rued the lack of adequate government support for racers in the country.
“Unlike other sports, racing doesn’t get any government support. There is a limit beyond which you can’t expect private companies to support you. So most racers are forced to rethink their future,” he said.
“When it comes to not having many Indian F1 drivers I think it all comes down to sponsorship because currently there is good enough infrastructure.
“India does have a lot of motorsport enthusiasts, but money is always the hindrance,” he added.
On being probed about his dreams for the near future, Chittesh, who holds Ferrari’s Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen as his idol, said: “Currently I am focussed on my business, but driving is what I live for. I still dream of becoming a successful racer at the international level.”
(Tridib Baparnash is in Coimbatore at the invitation of JK Tyre. He can be contacted at [email protected])