It's not easy for racing drivers to stop racing. The thrill of driving on the limit and going wheel-to-wheel with competitors is hard to walk away from. Especially if you're good at it.
Rayomand Banajee (C) gave up a successful karting career to focus on finding and grooming the next generation of Indian karters. HT Photo
By 2008, Rayomand Banajee had won six karting championships and had even represented India in
the World Rotax Karting Finals. Unfortunately for Banajee, his success came before motorsport in India became front page news and a viable profession for youngsters.
"A racing driver definitely has a lot more opportunities today," Banajee told HT. "Things are much better now than they were just five or six years ago."
The improvement in motorsports at the grass roots levels like karting is a marked one, with drivers at every level having access to powerful two-stroke karts that are at par with international standards. As recently as 2007, the national karting championship used to be contested in karts powered by four-stroke engines from a Honda lawnmower.
At 32-years-of-age, Banajee is no longer a competitor for Rayo Racing, the team he started and used to drive for, but is fully committed to finding and helping the next generation of Indian racing drivers.
His work has been bearing fruit and the championship wins of 14-year-old Arya Gandhi and 17-year-old Anshuman Chatterjee in the Junior Max and Senior Max categories of the JK Tyre Rookie Cup last Saturday is proof of that.
It also vindicates Banajee's approach to looking out for promising talent out of the numerous applicants who have woken up to motorsport in the wake of Formula One's arrival in India.
"It can be sussed out very quickly who is in it just for the glamour of racing and who has the hunger and passion to win," said Banajee.