Motorsport has been around in India for close to five decades, but it has only been in recent years that the sport has seen a significant increase in participation and interest. It has of late undergone a significant transformation, despite the country’s deep-rooted love for cricket. With the sport capturing the attention of enthusiasts and stakeholders alike, this signals a promising future.
The rise of motorsport in India is due in part to the efforts of a number of companies and individuals who have invested heavily in developing the sport. Their endeavors have brought about remarkable developments, including the establishment of the Indian Racing League (IRL) and other notable events that have captivated audiences nationwide.
The IRL is organised by the Racing Promotions Private Limited (RPPL), which has made more than Rs 250 crore investment in IRL which happens to be the biggest investment done in a sports event in India after IPL. Speaking to ABP Live, Akhil Reddy, the chairman and MD of RPPL, shared what motivated the firm to introduce motorsports in India.
“I have always been passionate about motorsports. In 2019, alongside my friends Armaan and Aditya, we founded the XI League. I entered the league as the team owner for the Hyderabad team. Then in 2020, Covid-19 struck and stretched till 2021. Since I liked the concept of this league, which is the first in India, I took part actively by acquiring major stakes in the league.”
RPPL was started by Armaan Ebrahim and Aditya Patel, and Akhil joined them and made it big. The company employs B.Tech graduates who specialise in the mechanical and automobile sectors. Both Armaan and Aditya are professional drivers in India.
RPPL has conducted two major leagues — the Indian Racing League in Chennai (2022) and the Karting Super Series in Bengaluru (2023).
‘Wrong Notion That Motorsport Is Expensive’
The growth of motorsports in India extends beyond the efforts of individuals like Reddy. The sport has garnered significant interest, attracting a diverse range of participants and stakeholders. As a result, talented individuals have emerged, displaying remarkable skill and dedication.
Reddy pointed out the challenges that he needs to overcome in the future to make motorsports a go-to sport for people.
“I want to create a proper ecosystem so that youngsters can pursue this sport on a professional front. You have to create a proper ecosystem if you want people to participate in it. This year, we started the karting championship. The reason was to show that you do not need financial stability to take part and be in a sport. We are giving 100% scholarships to talented players,” he said.
Though the two major events conducted in Chennai and Bengaluru showcased the growing appeal of motorsports in India, Reddy acknowledged that achieving significant milestones and winning prestigious leagues and tournaments would be crucial in generating broader awareness and enthusiasm for the sport.
“It is a challenge to create awareness among the people regarding motorsports. But then If you see cricket, the moment India won the 1983 cricket World Cup, people started following the game blindly and now cricket is no less than religion in our country. So in a similar fashion, if we want people to pursue motorsports, we have to win some prestigious leagues and tournaments. I am working, my company is working for that since there is no dearth of talent in our country. We just need to identify them and give them a proper platform,” Reddy said.
Overcoming the dominance of cricket in Indian culture remains a challenge, but Reddy said he is working towards filling the gap and cultivating a thriving motorsports community.
“What happens with people is they think motorsport is expensive. But trust me, it is the same as learning cricket. We have to make people understand that motorsport is reasonable and you can afford it. Initially, it was costly but now things have changed. Apart from cricket, the younger generation is also intrigued towards motorsports, F1, and all. Last month, during the Formula 4 event, an Indian flag was there and a lot of Indians took part.”
As motorsports continues to evolve in India, Reddy envisions a future where a vibrant ecosystem supports and nurtures the aspirations of motorsport enthusiasts across the nation.
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