Former Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan and former cricket World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev are among top stars endorsing the upcoming motorsports tournaments in India. But the one name that is perhaps unheard and yet, clearly intends to stand out, is that of Parth Ghorpade.
Ghorpade has already made a name globally, winning the Formula Pilota Asian Championship and having raced in the Formula Renault, Formula 3, LMP2 prototypes -- matching the speed of some drivers currently in Formula 1.
This year, thanks to a packed calendar of events in India, this prodigal son is set to return to race on home soil.
"With the Formula Regional Championship and F4 coming up in India, new cars will be there in the scene, it's going to be really big, as we have never hosted such big tournaments in the past," Ghorpade, who began his career with wins in similar national tournaments, told The Bridge.
Both the Formula regional championship and the F4 events are backed by the FIA, the global governing body of car racing. For the first time in India, this year, FIA super license points will be given to the winners of these championships.
"We have never had such quality before and the investment too is quite enormous, especially the sponsors and all these things together will give Indian motorsports a huge lift," Ghorpade said, underlining how big a moment this is for India.
Unprecedented investment in Indian motorsports
A cumulated investment of Rs 100 crores from various corporate organizations is backing these events in the country. This amount is an unprecedented one and has led to a visible rise in the importance accorded to promoting motorsports as well.
"It is really exciting to see cricketers like Kapil Dev stepping up and taking interest in our sport," says the young racer who has undergone multiple testing programmes in the past few weeks as a part of preparations for the new season.
Also putting India on the map of world racing is the performance of an all-Indian franchise, Mumbai Falcons, who have recently finished third in the F3 Asian Drivers' Championship.
Ghorpade says the Falcons have partnered with foreign teams which has helped tackle the question of expenses too. Ghorpade hopes that international attention will help racing become a sport sanctioned by the Union government -- something that has not yet happened in India in spite of the spike in corporate investment.
"We have a lot of young talent coming up and if we can provide them with the appropriate infrastructure and facilities, we can save a lot of cost with regards to travelling abroad and training," he adds.
India already has four world-class circuits in New Delhi, Coimbatore, Chennai and recently, Hyderabad. These will host the three big events, the formula regional championship, the F4 and the Indian Racing League.