It is everyone’s right to dream big but to realize one’s aspirations into reality is not a cake walk. Children have a tendency to weave dreams of their own world but to handle the dream and extract reality out of it in youth or adolescence is a different story altogether. Similar is the story of Chittesh Mandody, a 24-year-old F1 racer.
Since his childhood, he desired to be a racer. When he was merely eight-year-old when he would sneak in his grandfather’s garage and was lured by the beauty of those wonderful cars. He always wanted to drive them.
“I started taking interest in racing since the age of eight. As a young kid, I would go to the garage, set up by my great grandfather, and often wanted to drive those luxury cars,” Chittesh says.
His interest in motorsports wasn’t an uncanny choice given his family lineage of car mechanics that had been running the business for the past 85 years. Their garage was one of its kind in Kolhapur given the royal family sent their cars for repair in their garage ever since it started.
“It all started from there. The passion for driving, the dream of becoming an F1 racer, and this journey got a meaning when I reached the final of the JK Tyres Karting National Championship in 2002-03,” he said.
It was a great going for the 13-year-old racer till 2006 when he had to quit the sport in order to earn money.
“I had to quit my passion after 3-4 years as it was getting more and more expensive. This made me give second thoughts if I really wanted to pursue racing as a career option. One of the major problems every driver faces when he is building his career in motorsport is money. For me too, finance was a big problem. It’s quite an expensive sport and we were always running short of money, however, I had immense support from JK Tyres and my dad, who supported me and helped me reach the level where I am now.”
He was lucky enough when he got a second chance in 2007, thanks to support of Kolhapur businessman Shivaji Mohite. He won Rotax Junior Championship in 2007 and since then there has been no looking back for the youngster.
“The main headache was the lack of funds but somehow Shivaji sir turned up and sponsored me for the JK Tyres National Karting Championship in 2007,” he said.
Chittesh now is also running a car detailing business besides training the drivers for upcoming racing tournaments. He is very dissatisfied with the way government takes up racing in the country.
“Unlike other sports, racing doesn’t get any government support. There is a limit beyond which you can’t expect private companies to support you. So, most racers are forced to rethink their future. India does have a lot of motorsport enthusiasts, but money is always the hindrance,” he says.
When it comes to not having many Indian F1 drivers he thinks it all comes down to sponsorship because currently there is not good enough infrastructure.
“India does have a lot of motorsport enthusiasts, but money is always the hindrance,” he added.
When he was asked about his goal in the near future the Ferrari’s Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen as his idol, he said: “Currently I am focused on my business, but driving is what I live for. I still dream of becoming a successful racer at the international level.”
He has realized his dream and didn’t give up when he had shortage of money. His determination and talent brought him sponsors and he says, “If you have belief in your heart and believe in following your passion there will be thousands of obstacles coming your way but you will pass it all if you are consistent.”