Indulge one-on-one: Armaan Ebrahim and Aditya Patel chat on revolutionising the way we look at motorsports

This freewheeling conversation covers early beginnings, mentoring, favourite cars over the years and of course, what's next...

Sonali Shenoy Published :  31st October 2018 02:52 PM   |   Published :   |  31st October 2018 02:52 PM
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Armaan Ebrahim & Aditya Patel

Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim have spent the past year building India’s first franchise-based motorsports league — sort of like the IPL, except with teams on wheels. ‘Hot’ wheels. But these two share more than a business — they have been working out with the same instructor for over a decade, raced the same circuits, and had girlfriend talk all the way from 13 to 30. With all that history, when we approached them to interview each other, they told us they weren’t sure if they had anything new to talk about! 

Clearly though, you can tell there was plenty. Excerpts from the conversation:

Aditya: How much has changed since we started racing? 

Armaan: A lot. We have racing schools now. The equipment in India has become a lot better. The rallies around the country are making racing more accessible like the Duchess Car Rally and the Himalayan Rally. Also, Gymkhana (similar to autocross) is a format that is making it possible for anyone with a car...

Truckloads of change
Aditya: I recently attended a programme for truck drivers who were trained on the track. And at the end of it, they got to race — not with cars — but with their vehicle of comfort, their trucks, and it was very satisfying to watch.

There was prize money, 50,000 people cheering them on, (cricketer) Virender Sehwag shaking their hand, (rapper) Badshah distributing trophies...

Armaan: I think that’s what we want to do with our motorsports league as well — get more people involved. We want to bring racing to families, we’re going to be setting up circuits on the streets like the Singapore Grand Prix — in a controlled environment, of course.

Also, we want to get more women behind the wheel. Not enough people know that there are no separate gender categories in racing. Who said women can’t drive?

Aditya: You?

Armaan: No (Laughs)

Girlfriends & driving
Aditya: What do you do when you like a girl and then you find out she’s a bad driver?

Armaan: Reserve my comments. (Laughs) I know if I say, ‘Listen: do this’. She’s not going do it. If she asks, then I will slide in a... ‘Maybe, try it like this?’

I remember we used to call Aditya ‘Shadow Man’, because he would always say he didn’t have a girlfriend, but he did. Like, if Aditya is on vacation and he’s posting pictures of the scenery and 
random other things, that’s your clue. He is not on a boys trip!

Aditya: (Laughs) Let’s talk about you, Armaan.

Armaan: (Mock serious tone) Oh, there isn’t enough time.

Aditya: When was the last time you went on a date?
Armaan: It’s been months.

 

 

 

We’ve been working on India’s first franchise-based motorsports league. It’s sort
of like the IPL except with teams on wheels.

 — Aditya Patel

 

Armaan: But it’s crazy, how far we’ve come, because looking back, I remember, we just started racing for fun. I mean, I entered my first Go Karting race in the year 2000 at Kart Attack, literally to bunk school and get out of a test. And then, I won!

Aditya: Yes, and school was pretty strict, so we would always make up an excuse to go to a race, and then once it started coming out in the papers, we couldn’t do anything. (Smiles)

Armaan: Lots of medical certificates were going around...

Aditya: It’s interesting, a lot of people DM us on Instagram and ask how to get into racing, and want to talk about how expensive it is... but the truth is, right now, India is one of the most affordable places in the world to start a career in racing.

Armaan: Yeah, the cars we were racing in international circuits are now available here — and we paid 10 to 15 times more back then.

Snake tank
Aditya: I’m not talking thousands, more like in the hundred thousands.

(Laughs) I remember you did a season of Khatron ke Khiladi (India’s version of Fear Factor) to raise money at one point. Did you have to eat any snakes?

Armaan: Yes, to finish my season in Formula 2! There were no edibles, thankfully. But I did have to lie in a tank filled with hundreds of snakes. I remember thinking I just have to last a few seconds longer than my partner, because I knew she was going to freak, and she did a few minutes in.

But we had to lose anyway, because I had to fly out for a race the next day.

Aditya: ‘Had’ to lose?

Armaan: Yes, I had a race!

Ever after, a car story
Aditya: Among all the cars that you’ve owned, which one’s been your favourite so far?

Armaan: I saved some money and bought a Honda City when I turned 18-years-old...

Aditya: I remember, you took us all for a drive on your birthday. Lots of fun, lots of scratches. You told your dad they were there because of a dog. (Laughs)

Armaan: Always.

Armaan: What about yours? Remember that old black Merc you had. Imagine taking that to college. You wouldn’t have to even open your mouth; you’d get all the attention anyway. (Laughs)

Aditya: Ha ha. We all had this idea that we would show up to college in suits one day and get out of the car in style. But it never happened and we sold the car.
You know, I’ve wanted to ask: Do you think racing makes us safer drivers?

Armaan: Oh, 100 per cent. We drive fast on the track to let loose. So when we’re on the road and it’s unpredictable, there is no need. I just went yesterday (to the track) and I feel so refreshed. It’s like therapy when you get to do it just for fun. 

Aditya: And in somebody else’s car. 

(Armaan laughs)

Armaan: That too.

sonali@newindianexpress.com | @brightasunshine

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