NEW DELHI (TIP): Armaan Ebrahim, Rohit Khanna and Mira Erda come from different backgrounds and different parts of the country and race different vehicles across different platforms, but the three racers have two things in common: they believe that motorsports in India is on the rise and they’re doing their individual bit to keep that upwards movement.
Armaan, 27, is the son of former F3 champion Akbar Ebrahim – he’s been around cars since he was a toddler – and was crowned India’s Motorsports Man of the Year in 2015. Rohit, 35, is a banker by profession whose passion for fast cars has taken him across the country and earned him many podium finishes. And Mira, all of 16, is a special talent with many junior level titles to her name, determined to inspire girls to get behind the wheel.
The three racers spoke to TOI Sports ahead of this weekend’s 19th JK TYRE-FMSCI National Racing Championship at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, where the winners will be confirmed.
I always had the passion for speed, I started out early and made it to the circuit in the early 2000s. I’ve been there since, seen a lot of faces in and out but its a lovely feeling to be back on the track with buddies I’ve grown up with.
From the circle that we’ve raced with, Armaan has been one name, of course. Then there’s Narain [Karthikeyan] and Karun [Chandhok] who’ve been inspirations. Internationally, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher are two big names I really idolized. I started racing when I was very young, just nine years old. My father was the role model and the one who encouraged me to get into racing.
Obviously I got exposed to racing at young age. Not many kids get to go to the circuit when they’re three of four years old and watch their fathers race. And which young boy doesn’t like to play with cars? But it was never planned. I used to love to sit on my father’s lap and drive, but the actual move to become a professional driver did not happen until 2003 when we got the professional karts to India. Until then, for kids in India there was only recreational karting and the Indian national championship. Once professional cars came in, I went and had my first go but it was out of chance. It wasn’t planned. I ended up winning that and the rest, as they say, is history. From there I went to Malaysia and asked my father whether he felt I could take this up as a profession and see where it goes. Luckily, my parents were very supportive and we took that chance and we’ve gone with the wave.
I was 13. Not as young as Mira (laughs), but at that time professional karting was really young in India. Our generation was about 13-14 then, but over the years kids have been given a whole new opening.