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Motorsports in India: A growing sport that needs support

Motorsports has existed in India for more than six decades, but it is in the last few years that this sport has gained popularity and generated interest across the country. With growing participation in international rally and road racing events, India’s role in the global motorsport arena has never been bigger. Indian auto manufacturers are investing their resources into this sport and are already seeing returns with strong finishes in international events. Even our home-grown racers are making a name for themselves on the global stage, and today many young riders in the country are aspiring to be professional riders.

What started and perceived as a niche sport for the affluent in the early years, motorsport in India picked up as a serious sport after the establishment of Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) in the 1970s. It not only brought about a perception shift towards this sport but also set the base for serious professional motorsports in the country with standardized rules and regulations. Post this development; this game attracted attention from auto industry players as they realized that the learnings from the track would help in improving the performance of the stock vehicles and will also provide impetus to the motorsports in India.\nTowards this vision, TVS Motor Company established its racing arm – TVS Racing, which is the fact, the oldest and the first factory rally team in India. TVS Racing not only became a valuable asset to the company as it was providing valuable design and technological inputs to the R&D arm of the company but also became pivotal in the evolvement of motorsports in India. It became a platform for the young riders who wanted to pursue their career as racers.Though promoters in two-wheeler racing have been trying to help the category pickup by investing in the game and providing a breeding base for the riders, there is a need to scale up the ecosystem to be able to match up to the counterparts in other parts of the world. With the government recognition of the sport helping in many ways; it has also helped FMSCI building up a solid base for all categories of motorsports in India along with the support of industry players.

Since the last 34 years, TVS Racing has consistently been committed to motor racing and working with FMSCI towards this cause. To provide a platform for young aspiring racers to showcase their skills and take up motorsports professionally TVS Racing introduced One Make Championships in India which over the years has emerged to be a successful initiative, and has been replicated by many others in the industry to identify and handpick local talent. The team provides a holistic experience for the racers – not only does the company provides the infrastructure but also ensures that the team racers get exposure in India and abroad through regular training modules and participation in the international events with their counterparts.\nNo racer can excel by just doing his best on a race weekend as it needs huge commitment and sacrifice all through his career. Regular fitness training and focused practice makes a good racer so it is very important to start training at an early age. But parental pressure to excel in academics is one of the key reasons why many children in India are not able to pursue sports in general and motorsports in particular. Also the fear of motorsports being a dangerous sport also plays on the minds of parents as the risk of injury is high. The safety standards of motorsport has gone up significantly over the years and training academies in India are fully equipped to train and educate the racers and their parents about the safety aspect. For instance, our racer Aravind KP had a love for speed and was very competitive right since early childhood. Being a natural athlete, KP was able to successfully transition to the motorsport arena with the support of his parents. Spotting talent at an early age gives teams a huge advantage to start grooming them and make their ready to compete in the global arena.

There is a positive outlook towards two-wheeler racing with many formats introduced over the years like Dirt Racing, Drag race, motocross and supercross championships, rally raids, etc. As the Indian motorsport scene is gradually evolving, it is also becoming competitive in nature. The recently concluded India Baja Rally put India on the global map. The local talent of India got a taste of international level exposure as they were pitted against the international racers and had a chance to earn the ticket to Dakar- the most grueling rally of the world. Even within the two-wheeler category, it is interesting to note that scooters rallies have started gaining traction especially the Gulf Monsoon Scooter Rally. Though the format isn’t much popular in India but seeing the growth of motorcycles rallies in the country, scooter racing also has a potential.\nSo, we understand that India has a lot of potential as a region for motorsports but is this all that is required to evolve this sport? It is a man-machine game that requires strong financial support; this makes it difficult for aspiring riders to pursue it professionally. And thus, to make this sport accessible for all, the key aspects are - cultivating the right talent at the right time, providing the necessary facilities and infrastructure, and an enabling platform for these young riders to scale up for global competitiveness. For motorsport to grow stronger, the stakeholders including the government need to work together and build a robust infrastructure for aspiring racers and make this game affordable and affable for all. After all, development is a gradual process which is possible through the collaborative efforts.

Author: B Selvaraj is a Head of TVS Racing

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