This is going to be Chetan Korada’s biggest year yet; a year that will see him go international.
“It will be exciting,” he says, rubbing his hands in glee, “I’ll be racing on international tracks at Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain, which are very different from the ones here in India.”
Korada is not your usual motor racer; the 31-year-old is probably the world’s only motor car racer with synthetic limbs who holds the distinction of winning several series and championships. “I’ve never thought of it as an obstacle. It was never on my mind,” he says, walking up the stairs of his Kilpauk residence and posing for a photograph.
Growing up in the city, sport was always on Korada’s mind. He did dabble in other sports, but realised that racing was his calling a decade ago when he took out an LGB 1300 for a spin.
“Before I sat in the car, my heart was thumping with excitement,” he recalls about that day, “I had prosthetic legs and didn’t know if they would fit. But when I stepped into the vehicle, I could settle in smoothly.” That day remains memorable for Korada, even as his racing career — that includes outings in the JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship, MMS Mini Enduro and the Spring Karting series — enters its 10th year.
Today, Korada looks back at his early childhood as years of determination: ones in which he proved that he was no different from the rest of his friends.
At a very early age, he had to undergo bi-lateral amputation because of his congenital limb deformity, but his inclination towards cars — fuelled by encouragement from his mother and teachers — nudged him to lead a life on the fast lane.
In his initial years in sport, he took great inspiration from Italian Formula One Driver, and paracyclist, Alex Zanardi. “I kept telling myself: if he can do it, I could too. He was a role model.”
Closer home, Korada was following the racing exploits of actor Ajith, who also has a keen interest in the sport.
“I used to like his movies, but when I saw him on the race track in 2007, it was so inspiring...,” he trails off, excited to talk about his favourite star.
He also focussed a lot on his fitness, with Ramji Srinivasan of the city-based QLP Sports helping him out a lot in recent times.
“The folks there know my body better than me,” he says, “Racing demands a lot of physical and mental toughness.”
Korada did look at other careers when he was younger — dabbling in a bit of DJing thanks to his liking for music — but once a racing career looked feasible, he didn’t take a step back.
With such an expensive career, funds might be an issue, but thankfully, he has QNet supporting him on that front. Currently, his sights are set on international racing glory, for which he attended a course with the Formula Masters Testing Programme in Malaysia recently.
“I can’t wait to race on those tracks,” he grins.