Racecar driver Advait Deodhar talks to Youth Inc’s Aayush Ailawadi about his need for speed, career goals and the future of motorsport in India
“Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real”
These profound words were once uttered by the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur and even today, they continue to influence an entire generation of youngsters the world over. There are some of us though, who manage to transform our childhood dreams into reality with courage, patience and determination. 24-year old Advait Deodhar is one such dreamer who dreamed of becoming a race car driver ever since he was a toddler and stopped at nothing less. When I went to school with Advait, I noticed how he stood out from the herd. One could perhaps attribute that to the fact that he was the tallest kid in school, but I was certain that he’d do something extraordinary with his life. Little did I know that this towering lad of 6 feet 4 inches, hailing from Mumbai would go onto to become India’s foremost hope in the world of motorsport.
How did your parents react to such a novel career choice?
I’ve wanted to be a race car driver since I was three years old. But, the opportunity came pretty late in life. As for my parents, they weren’t surprised when I told them I want to give it a real shot. However, they made it very clear that they would get me going, after which I had to get myself funded in the expensive world of motorsport on my own.
What was it like moving to Italy as a teenager to study Automobile Design at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin?
18-22 are the most formidable years in my opinion. If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Growing up in Italy made me the independent, motivated and driven person that I am today. Studying Automobile Design definitely had an impact on my decision to pursue racing. Being exposed to the automotive industry was one thing. But, the main thing was the frustration that built up in me when I was designing cars (not that I didn’t enjoy it). I decided to race instead of sitting in front of a screen designing cars.
Be it sailing as a youngster or skiing in Italy or racing professionally – you seem to be living in the fast lane – Has speed always fascinated you?
Undoubtedly! Speed has always fascinated me. As my parents constantly joke about it, ‘fast’ is the only word I really understood as a kid. Apparently, I used to say it with a big fat lisp. I’ve also been sailing since the age of nine and I was also awarded Youth National Sailing champion. I absolutely love sailing, but never ever looked at it as a career option. In terms of motorsport, I am completely self-taught. I literally jumped into the deep end in 2012 and started competing. Having said that, I did have a driver coach last year for a couple of rounds, but he only helped refine my driving. As the legendary Mario Andretti once said, “Not everyone can be a racing driver. Either you have it or you don’t.”
A season in Motorsport can be exorbitant. How have you managed to fund yourself so far?
I have been putting in my 110% to get myself fully funded since 2013. I have also been devoting a tremendous amount of time and energy into getting a great sponsor on board. This is my passion and the fact that I want this more than anything else has kept me going and still continues to drive me every day. However, this is just the start of a long and steep uphill journey. Millions of dollars need to be raised before I start earning millions!
In 2012, you started your career off with the Formula 4 National Championship in India and have progressed quite rapidly. What are your future plans?
I’m glad to say that my progression has been really good. I have worked extremely hard for this and the results have shown. It is now time for me to compete at an international level. I am looking at a range of options. Be it Europe in the German Formula 3 Championship or Asia in the Formula Masters China Series – I need to see which one makes most sense and for which I can raise funds for.
What is your message to aspiring race car drivers in India?
I think there is tremendous scope for the sport in our country. But I feel that the companies, the government and the general population need to understand the sport and how it has so many different angles to it. It’s more than just cars going around in circles.
I’d like to be frank with budding race car drivers – be very clear about what you expect from the sport. When it comes to funding, if you don’t have a wealthy family backing you, then be prepared to experience heartbreak on a daily basis. You could be the most promising talent in the world but sadly, without financial support, you cannot race. Motorsport requires wholehearted commitment to the sport. You will always need to be on top of your game, physically and mentally. So, one must look at racing in a professional way and always aim for the stars. At the end of the day, if you’re passionate about racing, there’s nothing else that will make you happier!
Your role model
Sebastien Vettel and Anil Agarwal (Vedanta)
Your favourite race circuit in the world
Spa Francorchapms,Belgium and Suzuka, Japan
Do accidents in motorsport intimidate you?
Not yet. For now, the danger adds to the excitement
Any set fitness goals?
less than 7% body fat, 77 kgs
Volume 4 Issue 5