If India's ace Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan is to be believed then the city, oft referred to as India's motor sport hub, may well have a Grade 3 racing circuit in the years to come.
“It is still in the talking stages but the plans are definitely there,” said the fastest Indian in the world, who returned home to a warm welcome after playing his part in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida last weekend.
A few of his friends, family and members of the Coimbatore Auto Sports Club (CASC) had planned to give Narain a fitting welcome at the airport. And, the Coimbatore star was obviously stunned with the response as he had returned home rather quietly when he first drove for the Jordan in 2005. “I understand the feeling. Even I was pretty much excited driving in the Indian GP than in my debut race. So it will take some time for the feeling to sink. In fact, I want to ride the wave from here.”
He said every other country is talking about the success of the Indian GP. “That's the truth. The last one week F-1 has taken the space in all our papers. So we will have to pick the momentum from here. I was with the lower-rung team (HRT) despite that I enjoyed a decent finish.”
How about the next season? “The current season is yet to be completed but we are talking to various teams. Every minute we are talking,” he said with a large smile.
Narain's wife Pavarna was thrilled as well. “It was a dream come true not only for Narain but also for me. I have been dreaming half my life for this day. And, we all enjoyed being at the Indian GP,” she said. “I had seen him race twice before in F-1 but the mood in the Indian GP was great. There were lots of cheers when he first took the car out for the drivers' parade,” said B. Srihari, Narain's brother in-law.
“The whole family, about 30 of us, was there to see him drive. He did a fantastic race. We hope and pray that he does well next year too,” he added.
“It was truly great to see my son drive in the Indian soil. Words cannot express how happy I was that day. I am proud of him,” said Sheela Karthikeyan, his mother.
“Narain without doubt has created the awareness of the sport in India. We are happy that Narain is from this part of the region from where the sport grew. Most of the racing and rallying cars are prepared here. So CASC is proud and honoured to welcome Narain. We wish him a successful 2012 season,” said J. Prithviraj, Secretary, CASC.
“It has been a long-time dream of his. He has accomplished that. To drive in the Indian GP is certainly a memorable moment. He richly deserves a place as he had sacrificed many things. So, we thought we will reward him with a fitting welcome today for all the sacrifices made,” said Naresh Devaraj, a close friend.
“I was trained by Narain personally. He taught me how to drive in his personal kart. He is my guru. If it was not for him I may not be racing today. We are all happy being here. My best wishes for his future,” said Charen Chandran.
“I am a big fan of Narain and his friend too. I was in Delhi too. It was a pleasant experience and a life-time opportunity for me to see him drive,” said Praveen Dharmalingam.
“Narain is an inspiration for many of us. More than inspiration, I must say he made people like us think about cars and racing. We also know now that nothing is impossible,” said Tarun Ramachandran, his well-wisher and fan.
Back to Grade 3 circuit, the CASC is still working on its feasibility. “It is in a very premature stage. We want to wait and watch for at least a year to see how BIC is being utilised. But the project is very much in the pipeline. It is an initiative taken by the CASC in association with the Coimbatore Auto Sports and Transport Trust,” said Prithviraj.