Interview with Advait Deodhar "Imagine the headlines when I become the first Indian to win the Daytona 500!"
It has been 13 years since India’s first formula1 driver made his debut. In the recent years, we have seen a lot of Indian drivers and riders representing the country in the International motorsport events like the Dakar, GP3, and F2 to name a few.
On April 14th, 2018 history was made, Advait Deodhar, a former Indian formula car driver made his debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro series at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.
He couldn’t have asked for a better debut as he went on to win the NASCAR race in the Elite club division, making him the only Indian in the world to win a NASCAR race till today.
An exclusive interview with the Indian NASCAR driver Advait Deodhar.
Q: How does it feel to be the First Ever Indian to win in the NASCAR series?
Really fantastic. It still hasn't sunk in yet! What a way to start my European racing career!
Q: Did you get enough recognition like the other Indian athletes or players who achieved such a feat in their respective sport? What would you like to say to the people in India about it?
Motorsport is always on the back-foot in comparison to other sports in the country in terms of recognition. However, I'm trying to change it. I'm very fortunate that in the past, I have received plenty of coverage so I’m not complaining. I'm doing my best to ensure that people in all 4 corners of India know about it!
Q: Who is your favorite racing driver of all times? Did you get a chance to meet him?
It's a tough one between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. I've met Vettel in a nightclub after the Abu Dhabi GP, briefly! He actually said sorry to me for bumping into me by mistake!
Q: You started your professional racing career in your 20's while most of the drivers start at around 10 or younger? Do you think it makes a difference?
It definitely makes a massive difference. I did not have a karting background so I required quite a lot to understand racing lines, overtaking, defending etc. Karting is definitely a must and I encourage anyone who wants to start racing to first give it a go in Karting.
Q: What is the reason for taking a 3-year break from motorsport? What inspired you to make a comeback?
I ran out of funding. It was not a break; I was actually working 24/7 - 365 to get the funding to compete! This is not a comeback; this is the next step.
I shifted to the UK on a one-way ticket to try and move to the next step in Motorsport. It took me 3 long years!!
Q: You were a successful formula car driver. What is your reason for making a switch from formula cars to NASCAR?
I want to make a professional career in the sport. I had to move away from single-seaters as firstly, I'm 6 foot 4, so it's quite hard to fit into the cars. Secondly, the road to Formula 1 (which I initially tried) was far more expensive. I did get quite close end of 2014 to get a BIG sponsor while I was trying to follow the F1 journey. However, that did not work out.
NASCAR is the largest sporting organization in the United States after the NFL. It's on the same level as Formula 1. The cars are fantastic and there's a real opportunity for a driver to make a successful career. I know for a fact that my Nationality is going to really work in my favor. Imagine the headlines when I become the first Indian to win the Daytona 500! What a story that'll be!!
Q: Do you have plans to move on to the NASCAR Monster energy series? How do you intend to do that?
This was my first entry into NASCAR. The Monster Energy Series in America is still a while away but that is the goal. I intend to do the Euro Series and then make the switch to America.
Q: Is the FMSCI doing enough to promote Indian Drivers to International Racing series? How much do we lack in comparison to the European counterparts?
The FMSCI are doing their best with what is available. At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that to do an international series, a driver needs to have funding. That money either comes from home or from sponsors. Unfortunately, that is the raw fact. More than the FMSCI, Indian companies need to broaden their horizons and look at sponsoring/supporting Indian racing drivers.
Q: What are your views on the Motor Racing Scenario in India? Who was the most competitive India driver you battled with, in your Formula days?
The motor-racing scene in Indian is still at a very basic level even though there is tremendous talent in the country. I think VW run a very good Championship with the Vento Cup as do MRF FF1600 and JK Formula BMW. But unfortunately, there are very few drivers who compete.
If I had my way, I would ban the Formula LGB4 and keep the Formula1600 and Formula BMW as the only single seater series available.
I think I drove against some pretty quick guys back in India. Undoubtedly, the most all-around driver would have been the late Ashwin Sundar. It's very sad to see what has happened to him. He was truly a gifted driver. Apart from that, Tarun and Vishnu were great competition too!
Q: We have a world-class facility, the Buddh International Circuit but most of the National Championship rounds take part in the older and smaller circuits? Do u think it needs a change?
The Championship needs to run on all 3 circuits in my opinion. Buddh, MMSC, and Kari. The Buddh charge way too much to host an event, hence the lack of race weekends there. If JK and MRF teamed up and hosted one big event / final race of the season there with many different classes, that would be great! They actually did that in 2012, SIDVIN FESTIVAL OF SPEED.
Q: Are they enough opportunities for young Indian drivers to get into NASCAR? If yes, do they head to Europe or the US to train for the NASCAR series?
I think there is a lot of opportunities to make a career in NASCAR. I'm still new to it and can't say yet what the best route will be. Give me 18 months and I'll have an answer for you :)