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Goa speed drivers seek ‘formula’ of hope

MICHAEL FISHER | B&C

For Motor Sports in Goa, though it seems to be lights out in the foreseeable future at least, two aspirants Donovan Vaz and Avdumber Hede are hoping the government and the promoters might switch the lights on for them

Like India Formula 1 won’t be on for this year due to the bureaucracy fumbling with taxes, while Motor Sports hinges on sponsorships and advertisements. The two Goan drivers Donovan and Avdumber are hoping that race promoters such as JK Tyres, Amaron (battery), Volkswagen and MRF bring back the race in 2016. There has got to be a future of Motor Sport drivers to develop the grassroots level talents, says Pradeep Naik a well known speed enthusiasts.

Motor Sports racing drivers earn from sponsorships and advertisement of logos on the car and on the driving suite. Sponsorship comes from TV channels, Star Sports and national magazines. The winner of the championship gets a chance to compete abroad in the Formula 3.

Donovan Vaz 26, from Benaulim and Avdumber Hede from Borda started racing in a Go Kart track in 2007. Go Karts is the launch pad for all formula-1 drivers including Michael Schumacher, Alonso, Vettle and David Coultard, among others.

In 2008 the Goan racing drivers took part in a 24-hour endurance that is continuously driving with a team of five drivers for each car. It was an international event with 15 participating teams from different parts of the world held in Chennai.

“People would look at Go Kart as child‘s play, but it is anything but that,” says Donavan. A racing Go Kart can speed up to 100km an hour and driving at that speed the kart goes a few inches above the ground  and there’s a possibility of getting hurt or being hit by another speeding competitor in spite of the very high safety measures.

For the 24-hours endurance the driving has to be really fast. The kind of pressure on the heart and the exhaustion the driver goes through gets him dehydrated due to the level of concentration. It was my first professional race and we did well, we finished in the top six of the 15 competing teams. Each driver had to drive 3 to 4 hours with pit stop to change the drivers.

In another racing event Amaron (battery) race I started from third place following a qualified-run. I was leading for quite some time when a small accident disturbed my concentration, however, I came second. Amaron, JK Tyres, MRF would hold such championships.  The last race was held in 2011 in Goa.

At the Amaron Race they were two Volkswagen scouts monitoring the race. They picked the first and second winners, which included me and gave us the opportunity to race for the Volkswagen Cup in Chennai and Delhi on the Formula 1 circuit.  Wow my dream track.

It was the Volkswagen Polo Cup Championship. This was a national championship on the lines of an international event. The competition was too stiff for which I didn’t anticipate the least what it would be like as I was winning races in Goa I thought this would be a walkover.

Every Formula 1 driver has to start somewhere and often that’s closer to the rear of the field than the front. Now Donavan was being tested with real time competitors from all over India. The top 14 to 15 drivers were all within seconds of the leader. The difference between each driver is a fraction of a second.  The age group of the drivers was from 16 years to 26 years old.  I finished 10th in the championship, but overall my standing was 8th.

Actually racing is much safer than driving a car on the road in spite of doing a speed of over 200km an hour.  Besides wearing safety gears the car is reinforced to remain safe if it tips and rolls over the cabin remains safe and if that is not enough the 5-seat belt holds the driver in one place is called the 5-point harness.

In another year and of the same championship held in the same places I started from the 2nd place and finished first. I was .004 of a second behind the leader during the qualifying rounds. The Volkswagen Polo small engine produced a lot of power. It has a 1.4 engine which produces 180Hp like 180 horses pulling a car.

There are stewards watching the whole race and if anything done illegally like tapping another competitor out of the race will be disqualified or ban from racing. In Goa, Motor Sports are not popular because of lack of exposure and lack of proper infrastructure in comparison with other sports.

Motor Sports is an exciting but also an expensive sport without sponsors backing it is definitely not possible, even at the level of Formula -1, a case of Deja vu?  In Goa we were only two Avdumber Hegde and I the daring drivers. We reached #1 at the national level.

It is a difficult task of getting sponsors. In our first attempt sponsors came from the Sports Authority of Goa, Costa & Company, Karma & Company, Myles High, Casulo Feni, Vaz Enterprises. After the ban on mining it took away the cream of Motor Sports in Goa. Donavan and Hedge still have hopes to be back in racing track.

It is hard to think of a more difficult place to try to learn the craft, but if the government and some rich enthusiasts like mine owners come together to create the absolute infrastructure of motorsport in Goa or the concept of building a one and half kilometer circular small scale formula-1 track at the Verna plateau will go a long way for future racing drivers.

Also the motorsport management can have a “Driver Biding”, like the Cricket 20/20 world cup. The sponsors get a chance to select themselves to choose from the driver profiles presented and with which they also get enough coverage. Motorsport being one of the affluent sports will bring in authentic sponsors. In turn the government should support these kind of events.

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