After qualifying various stages of ‘Volkswagen Ameo Cup 2017’, Donovan Vaz from Benaulim, will be representing Goa at the finals which will be held in October in Delhi. In conversation with NT BUZZ, the 28-year-old shares his journey as a racer
VENITA GOMES | NT BUZZ
There wasn’t any specific moment or encounter for Donovan to identify his passion for racing but as a child he enjoyed watching ‘Fomula One World Championship’ – the single-seat-auto racing championship – that ignited his passion. This and the whole racing atmosphere amazed him and made him realise that this was the place where he should begin his career – the world of racing.
Identifying his true potentials and skills Donovan chose to follow his passion for racing. “Watching Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen of F1 racing was something that excited me. I was a big fan of F1 racing as a child. Not just that, when Goa’s first go-karting track opened in Nuvem, I was there on the first day and the rest was all history. I realised that no one could separate me from racing. It was an inborn passion that made me love the sport even more,” says the 28-year-old with a twinkle in his eye.
He recently represented Goa at the first edition of Volkswagen Ameo Cup 2017 and will be heading to the finals to be held in October at Budh International Circuit, New Delhi. Giving an insight into his journey at the Ameo Cup 2017 so far, Donovan says: “Unfortunately, this year I had a bit of a roller coaster ride, I would have definitely been in the top three in the third stage but due to tyre failures I could not attain the position. However, after five years coming back to the top 10 is definitely a good place to be; and I enjoy being here on track, there’s so much new to learn.”
Handling and overcoming the various challenges, with panache is a sign of good racer. And Donovan has surely done that: “One of the main challenges a racer faces is getting the right sponsorship to fund our racing. The whole process cost a lot and therefore there is a need to get the right sponsor for the fairly expensive sport.” Apart from the cost, safety and health also pose as challenges for racers. It can get really hot within the car and sometimes the temperature in a racing car can go up to 60 degrees Celsius “and also the fact that there is a need to be very careful and attentive on tracks, as one silly move or mistake from our side can cause catastrophic disasters on the track affecting other drivers as well,” he adds.
In order to keep adversity or tragedy at bay on the track, racers need to prepare themselves, mentally and physically before stepping on to the tracks. Donovan says that visualising and planning helps drivers or riders plan well their trail: “Before the start of any race the planning stage is a must. This stage involves mentally visualising the route on which we will be proceeding with the car. One needs to prepare a strategy, taking into consideration the minute details with the help of the data collection system that tracks every move we make which helps improve upon our flaws in the future.”
Donovan says staying focused and overcoming any hurdles and obstacles on track, without any misfortune is of utmost importance. “Racing requires you to be physically fit; the adrenaline rush while racing can at times make one feel dizzy and towards the later stages of the race one can start feeling tired. Therefore, it is essential for racers to ensure that their fitness standards are proper,” he says.
The life of a racer is filled with adrenaline pumping moments and Donovan says it is difficult to single out one particular such memorable moment. “Every single up and down is a memorable moment for a racer but I guess my first race and my first race car accident were two events in my racing career that I will never forget,” he adds.
There is a lot of debate on whether technological advances in racing cars must be suppressed in order to keep things fair and interesting, sharing his opinion on the matter Donovan says: “I personally feel that a car should be raw and not too technologically advanced otherwise the car would be doing more of the driving than the driver himself! Things like ABS should not be there to preserve the talent of the driver.”
Though racing is gaining popularity it’s has still not hit the mark in Goa and Donovan feels that there is a lot that needs to be done in order to keep the racing as a sport alive in Goa.
When asked whether he faces any problems while driving on public roads due to the constant racing track and how he switches off his hunger for speed, Donovan says that driving on public roads involves more caution and sensibility: “In a controlled environment of the race track it makes the racer more cautious and sensible on public roads and be more careful about obstacles like cows and dogs who keep crossing your way all the time.”
Contrary to popular belief, however, most racers do not spend every waking moment in high speed joy-rides on the highway. Donovan himself proudly owns the titles of being an avid entrepreneur, award-winning bartender and a passionate restaurateur to boot. When he’s off the track, you’re most likely to find him flipping, flaring and mixing up a storm behind the counter at his renowned bistro, ‘Firefly’. And when the world around him gets a little too fast-paced, little would hinder him from hopping on his bicycle and going on an impromptu ride, far from the din of the track and the reach of the average cell-phone network.