Couples in sports are not a rare a thing in India. From Dinesh Karthik and Dipika Pallikal to Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik, the Indian sporting fraternity has seen quite a few powerful sporting couples. Amongst many lies the name of Jagat and Anita Nanjappa. Now, both of these names might not be as popular as others, but the efforts and hard work put in by this Karnataka couple to promote motorsports in India is second to none.
So, how did it all start for this power-couple of Indian motorsports? For starters, Jagat’s father Appanna was a race driver himself. It was from his father that a young Jagat imbibed the passion for fast motors.
With coffee planting being the main business for his family, Jagat had plenty of time to pursue his love for motor racing. Growing up in Kodagu district, Jagat started racing bikes as a hobby in 1981. It was though after his marriage with Anita that success started following him in the race tracks. The couple has won countless rallies like the Time, Speed and Distance (TSD), Raid and Stage Rallies and others with Jagat as the driver and Anita as the navigator.
The tyre company MRF soon started sponsoring them owing to their tremendous success in the race track and they started competing under the banner of ‘Team MRF’.
The couple won nine out of eleven Annual Indian National Rally Riders Championships from 1986 to 1996, losing out only in the year 1990 and 1992. Besides, they also found success in The Great Desert Rally in 1988, The Coimbatore rally in 1992, The MASA rally in 1993 and 1994 and The Popular rally in Kochi in the 1993 and 1994.
Moreover, they ended as runners up with car in the Indian National Racing Championship in the year 1998, 2000 and 2001 whilst competing in the 1400cc category.
In order to give back to the society and popularise the sport of motor racing in India, Jagat and Anita set up the Universal Sports Club at Bangalore in 2002 with an aim to develop the infrastructure for the sport in the country. They also established the Nanjappa Racing Foundation to organise professional motor racing events across the country.
A large portion of the credit for the current state of motor sports in India should definitely go to this motor-couple. It is hard to imagine what the level of motor sports in India would have been if not for Jagat and Anita Nanjappa.