Interview: Chittesh Mandody talks about his family's garage, the role of social media in obtaining sponsors and more
Kolhapur's Chittesh Mandody is one of the favourites to come out on top in the LGB Formula 4 category. Even though he came in with 30 points in the bag, the 24-year-old was pegged back in the last couple of races in Round 2, leaving him tied with Vishnu Prasad for the top spot.
We spoke to the Kolhapur native at the Kari Motor Speedway in Chettipalayam, Coimbatore. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
Q: Could you tell us about your family's garage and how you got into racing?
A: "My grandfather opened the first garage in Kolhapur almost 85 years ago, and the Royal Family of Kolhapur have been servicing their cars in our garage from the beginning. My grandfather took care of it first, and that it was later looked after by my father and uncle.
So, I was always around cars growing up. I always wanted a fancy car and things like that. One day, a family friend took me to a karting track, and I performed well, so I developed an interest in the sport."
Q: When did you join Avalanche Racing and what impact have they had on your career?
A: "I joined at the end of 2016. They told me that they might have a spare car and that they were interested in having me race for them in the 2017 season. 1 month before the season started, they called me up and gave me the green light."
Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A:"I want to be a successful race, and that is my ultimate goal. I'm just trying to work step-by-step. This year I want to win the LGB Formula 4 Championship, and I know that's going to be very difficult. But we'll take things step-by-step, and see where my progress takes me next. I'd like to try Formula 3 next, but we'll see what happens."
Q: Could you comment on your experience driving in Coimbatore?
A:"I've come to this track for more than ten years, and I know it very well. I've done so many laps on this track, so winning on this track feels good and extra special. Some would even say that this is the closest thing to the home of motorsport in India."
Q: Who are the people that you've tried to emulate?
A:"There are many people that I've tried to emulate. When I was younger, people like Karun Chandhok, Armaan Ebrahim and Narain Karthikeyan were my role models. When I was a kid, I wanted to emulate them and replicate the success that they achieved."
Q: What is the greatest adversity you've ever faced?
A:"On the track, the level of competition is incredible. If you slip up for even one second, you will fall behind."
Q: How much difficulty have you had finding sponsors?
A:"I've almost given up. At this stage, all I can do is try and succeed on the track so that I can try and speak to different people and get things done."
Q: Has social media helped you attract sponsors?
A:"Yeah, it's been a great help for me. With social media, it's become easier to promote the right kind of news and to promote the drivers. It's helped us to create more of a presence than we had previously."