Raising a champion
Read on to know how Narain Karthikeyan became a racer
THE MAKING OF A CHAMP: The ace driver with a tiny bike.
IF NARAIN Karthikeyan had stuck to his childhood dream, then probably he would have been just a champion rally driver. Narain, India's first F1 driver, had reasons to be passionate about rallying. Not that this form of motor sport was popular in the country. But because his father, G.R. Karthikeyan, was a driver of national repute then.
However, G.R had other plans. Like any other parent, he wanted his son to study well and take care of his business. "In fact, my wife also had the same feeling , but Narain was firm ," he recalls.
He says that Narain was quite keen on rallying. "At times, he had even argued with me. `Daddy allow me to do at least one rally.' But, I had just one answer for him `No.'" What's the reason? "Rallying was fun. But, then if he goes off the cliff where can we go and find him," he asks.
Rallying and racing
Narain in his early days as racer.
"I had rallied from Nagercoil to Delhi in the seventies. It was a 7000km TSD event. We had to drive for nearly 18 hours. It was hectic and risky. Rallying and racing are two different sports. In racing, cars come only in one direction and it's all about precision. But, rallying is all about potholes and long duration. Now you will understand why I had applied the brakes on him," he points out.
In fact, G.R. was also not keen on circuit racing. "That's because we knew we could not afford it. It was like asking for a moon. So, I took him to the rifle club. Later, I asked him whether he would be interested in flying. He was stubborn. And that's how it all started."
To keep the little boy occupied at home, the parents bought him a bike.
"It was not a toy by any chance. It was four-stroke, and as quick as a moped," he says.
But, then seeing Narain slide dangerously, G.R. built him a go-kart. "I ensured that it had nice big bumpers all around.
He raced for hours together inside the compound. And that's when we knew that he was pretty serious," he says.
But, he always wanted his son to hone his skills in a good driving school. And, he knew the best place was the Elf Winfield Racing School in France.
"We knew it would be difficult because racing for four days cost $2500. But then we never wanted to shatter his dream," says G.R.
Narain quickly grabbed the opportunity that came his way and never looked back.
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