Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan says now is a great time to start racing as a teenager
At first, all you hear is an ear-splitting roar, and then, in a flash, MRF’s Formula 2000 zooms past and stops. It swerves in circular patters before taking off again in a fresh burst of energy. After seven laps, the man behind the wheel emerges and the crowd roars for ‘The Fastest Indian’ Narain Karthikeyan, who was in the city to launch the racing car.
The car, built for the MRF Challenge 2012 to take place later this year, is a world-class product, says the racer. “Sky is the limit to what you can do, and we’ve proved it once again by producing this car and encouraging young talent,” he says. “I notice that a lot of manufacturers are starting to make single-seater racing cars, as many people are now considering racing a career. It’s a great time to start racing as a teenager.”
As the first Indian Formula One driver, Narain feels “Formula One is tough business. But it’s a great atmosphere after you’ve worked so hard to earn a place. At one point, there were just two Asians — a Japanese and I. But racing is catching on in South East Asia.”
Bred on traditional racing grounds (Chennai and Coimbatore), one of Narain’s biggest moments on home turf was at the Indian Grand Prix last October at the Budh International Circuit outside New Delhi . “To race at home is an awesome feeling. It’s a special atmosphere here — so many people are cheering for you. Also, it’s a world-class layout and a fantastic track.”
He feels that the government has been very supportive of the sport. “I recently paid a visit to our Chief Minister. She’s very positive about the sport and assured me they will do what they can to help it grow.”
His thoughts on Madras? “I have a lot of fond memories of Chennai, since I began my career here. My first race was in 1992 in Sriperumbudur.”